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Advice on traveling with children by airplane

Consejos para viajar con niños en avión


An airplane is the safest means of transportation on earth, and the quickest for covering large distances, above all when traveling intercontinentally. Therefore, lots of families consider traveling by plane to shorten the journey time which, with babies and small children, can be extremely long and drawn-out on other forms of transport. 

This is down to the regular breaks we should take if we are traveling by car (every hour and a half or two hours), and extra breaks if the child gets dizzy, or needs to make a toilet break or if any other type of situation occurs with them. It is obviously not possibly to have a rest stop on an airplane and, together with the special conditions inside the airplane, this makes the journey very uncomfortable for young children, those accompanying them and the rest of the passengers.

Child restraint systems for airplanes

Depending on the child's age, there are different options for restraining the child in order to make the airplane journey safer. As demonstrated in this detailed infographic covering all means of transport, there are at least three airplane-specific types of CRS.

The first of these is for very young children, and consists of a harness belt for children under two years old. This system is attached to the father or mother's seat belt (or that of the adult accompanying the child), and the child will travel on the person's lap. This system means we do not have to take a full CRS with us.

The second type of CRS that can be used on a plane is a car seat suitable for their height and weight and which is designed for air travel (namely that it is approved for securing with the airplane two-point seat belt). 

Thirdly, there is a child restraint system model designed for airplanes which has been certified both in Europe and in the United States and is called CARES (Child Aviation Restraint System). This system is comprised of a four-point harness designed to be used directly on the airplane seat. The lower part is secured to the seat's seat belt while the upper part is attached to the seat backrest.

It is a light, foldable system that fits in any bag or backpack and is designed specifically for airplanes and for children that weigh between 10 and 20 kilos and who are up to approximately a meter tall. For older children, the seat belt is enough for the trip.

Do not forget to take a look at this comprehensive article with advice on how to make a long journey with children by airplane a bit more pleasant.

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