Did you know that the safest place for your child on an airplane is in a government-approved child safety restraint system (CRS) or device, not on your lap? Your arms aren’t capable of holding your child securely, especially during unexpected turbulence.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) strongly urges you to secure your child in a CRS or device for the duration of your flight. It’s the smart and right thing to do so that everyone in your family arrives safely at your destination. The FAA is giving you the information you need to make informed decisions about your family’s travel plans.
About Child Restraint Systems (CRS)
A CRS is a hard-backed child safety seat that is approved by the government for use in both motor vehicles and aircraft. FAA controls the approval of some but not all CRSs. Additional information is available in FAA guidance (PDF) and on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website. Not all car seats are approved for use in airplanes.
Make sure your CRS is government approved and has “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft” printed on it. Otherwise, you may be asked to check the CRS as baggage.
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Installing a CRS on an Airplane
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A CRS must be installed in a forward-facing aircraft seat, in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions. This includes placing the CRS in the appropriate forward- or aft-facing direction as indicated on the label for the size of the child.
Booster seats and harness vests enhance safety in vehicles. However, the FAA prohibits passengers from using these types of restraints and belly belts during ground movement, take-off and landing because they do not provide the best protection. The FAA encourages parents to make the best safety choice by using an approved CRS during all phases of flight. While there is no regulatory prohibition from using a booster seat or harness vest (or other non-approved devices) for a lap child during the cruise portion of the flight only, airlines have policies which may or may not allow the use of those devices. Check with your airline.
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FAA-Approved Child Harness Device (CARES)
The CARES Child Safety Device is the only FAA-approved harness-type restraint for children weighing between 22 and 44 pounds. This type of device provides an alternative to using a hard-backed seat and is approved only for use on aircraft. The CARES Child Safety Device is not approved for use in motor vehicles. Learn more about CARES.
If you’re using a CARES child safety device, make sure it has “FAA Approved in Accordance with 14 CFR 21.8(d), Approved for Aircraft Use Only” or “FAA Approved in Accordance