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.
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 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.
The FAA strongly urges you to secure your child in a CRS or device based on the child's weight. See the table below.
|If your child weighs…||Use a…|
|Less than 20 pounds||Rear-facing CRS|
|20 to 40 pounds||Forward-facing CRS|
|22 to 44 pounds||CARES child safety device|
|More than 40 pounds||Airplane seat belt|
Booster seats and harness vests enhance safety in vehicles. However, FAA prohibits passengers from using these types of restraints on airplanes during taxi, take-off and landing. These restraints should be checked as baggage. Also, supplemental lap restraints or "belly belts" are not approved for use in both airplanes and vehicles in the United States.
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 with 14 CFR 21.305(d), Amd 21.50 6-9-1980, Approved for Aircraft Use Only" on it.
If an approved CRS, for which a ticket has been purchased, does not fit in a particular seat on the aircraft, the airline is responsible for accommodating the CRS in another seat in the same class of service. The airline may have polices that dictate the specific safe seat locations for specific aircraft. See Regulatory Requirements Regarding Accommodation of Child Restraint Systems (PDF) to learn more.
Most young children who use a CRS weigh 40 lbs. or less. However, there are some children with physical challenges who weigh more than 40 lbs. and need the support and security of a CRS or device so they can travel safely on an airplane.
Airlines must allow a child who is under the age of 18 to use an approved CRS that is properly labeled, appropriate for the child's weight, and as long as the child is properly secured in the CRS. Many companies manufacture CRSs approved for use on aircraft that are specifically designed for larger children who are physically challenged. Additional information is available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Adults (18 years or older) who have physical challenges that require the support and security of a CRS or device in order to travel safely on an airplane may request an exemption to the FAA's regulations that require each passenger to be properly secured by a safety belt. This request may also be made by an airline on the passenger's behalf. Several companies manufacture restraint systems for adults with physical challenges.
To review previously granted exemptions on special needs travel, go to the FAA Automated Exemption System and type "7831" or "8264" in the "Exemption Number" search field and hit "enter" or click on "Search" on the left side of the screen. Highlight the document you wish to view and click on "View Document" on the left side of the screen.
Page Last Modified: 01/09/13 17:05 EST
This page can be viewed online at: http://www.faa.gov/passengers/fly_children/?cid=TW143