Children on premium cabins - revisited

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by viguera, Sep 4, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Never mind the behavior issues, the stares or anything of the sort... this is more about the logistics of the whole thing, as far as whether or not it's even possible (or allowed) in some of today's cabins.

    This is of course self-serving. My son is now 2+ and we're starting to consider much longer trips that include him. I don't have any problems doing a transcon in Y having him in a car seat or a CARES harness, but we all know that's really a long flight... :)

    I shot an email to mommypoints and of course she's on the same boat, considering that some of these seats are just not geared towards car seats or harnesses, and some of the threads on FT actually imply that some airlines will not allow specific restrains on premium cabins, be it because of airbags or seat layouts or whatever.

    So that presents a rather interesting "problem" for some people... I mean, Singapore or Lufthansa can open all the F award availability in the world, but unless you can actually sit a child up front somehow, you're in the back of the bus. Not something that I'm contemplating when looking at EWR-[somewhere]-BKK/SIN/whatever.

    The BoardingArea post about this came out a couple of days ago is here: http://boardingarea.com/blogs/mommy...st-international-businessclass-flight-part-2/

    The latest on FT is almost 2 years old though, so you have to wonder how much of this is accurate and how much will change with the introduction of new F/C hard product by airlines, whether it's in new aircraft or just retooled old hardware.

    As per FT:

    Code:
    DL: Carseat allowed in all cabins. No info on CARES.
    UA: Carseat allowed in all cabins. CARES allowed only in old C (only the 777s).
    LH: Carseat allowed in all cabins. CARES not allowed.
    TK: Carseat not allowed in 777 C.
    LA: Carseat and CARES allowed in all cabins.
    SA: Carseat allowed in all cabins. Carseats and CARES not allowed on SA express.
    CX: Carseat not allowed in new C.
    NZ: Carseats and CARES not allowed in Premium Business.
    Of course this doesn't make a distinction between domestic/international on some cabins -- like the UA 787 or the US Envoy Suites.

    Does anybody have any additional information or recommendations as to what to avoid/look for specifically for this situation? Does nobody actually travel with toddlers in F? And if so, at what age do you just forgo the car seat altogether (if that's even allowed or a good idea?)

    Right now I'm contemplating just spending $300 on one of these Diono Radian RXT "foldable" car seats, since they're only 17" wide and fold in half so they can be stored away (somewhere) after take-off/landing... assuming a carseat is allowed in the cabin and there's actually anywhere to store it during cruise.
     
  2. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    No experience in front, but for my two kids I don't believe we ever used a restraint on board the aircraft other than the provided seat belt. If we were traveling with a car or booster seat (which we did until fairly recently) we'd either stuff it in a lightweight duffle bag we carried for that purpose and check it, or (I think this happened a few times) gate check it.
     
  3. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Hmmm... but how old are your kids though? :)

    And I understand that a car seat would more than likely not help any more than the belt were something go really wrong, but I was under the impression -- perhaps mistakenly -- that airlines would actually not allow a toddler to fly without a proper restraint.

    Perhaps I was misinformed. :)
     
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  4. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    They are now 13 and 11, but we started flying with them when the elder was 6 weeks, and overseas when she was 16 months.

    If any such rule exists it's never so much as been mentioned to me. I would imagine that any such rule would be mentioned during the safety briefing when you're counseled to keep your own seat belt fastened at all times. Considering that they let the under 2 year old set fly on a parent's lap (which is probably the most dangerous configuration at all) it seems to me that they're not that concerned over that kind of safety issue.
     
  5. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    No personal experience, but a couple of weeks ago on a UA 777 I was seated on the aisle in the new config C cabin (4 across). Next to me was a couple with their toddler (2-3 years, I'd guess). He had his own C seat in the middle between them, no car seat or other contraption. And he was very well behaved. It was an overnight from SFO to LHR and when I woke up in the middle of the flight, everyone was sleeping around me, except for the kid who was sitting in the middle of his flattened seat with the remote in his hands and watching cartoons.
     
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  6. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    I think the only concern to me right now is that most airlines are happy to define "infant" as under 2, and go out of their way saying that you need "an FAA approved Child Restraint System" but things are left pretty much alone after that. They'll make a fuss about "minors" and whether they're unaccompanied or not, but nothing about whether a 3 year old actually needs a restraint and what kind (only that they'd need a reserved seat).

    Of course you know what I'm trying to avoid... most car seats are rather bulky, unwieldy contraptions designed to sit in a car forever, not to be carried through an airport and into a plane. If I can avoid bringing one (or just check it / gate check it) then even better. But what I'd hate is to actually be told that I need one because of some obscure policy and not have one.
     
  7. Singapore Flyer

    Singapore Flyer Silver Member

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    We have flown with our two, now three kids. Never in Premium, but I apologize now for anyone on the UA/SQ flights around Thanksgiving. I kid...my kids are pretty well season travelers. :) Been overseas since <6 months for all of them...some even <3months. Never used any harness or carseat. As you have stated, many of the airlines that we have flown to Asia didn't allow them. Even in Y. We did use the bassinet in some situations when they were young enough, but when they were big enough, they just sat in their seat with the regular seat belt or the belt extender with us when they were too large for the bassinet and too small to sit on their own during take off and landings.
     
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  8. mommypoints

    mommypoints Gold Member

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    In addition to the one you linked to above, I do plan to write more posts about this in the near(ish) future as I think it is a topic that is really under-discussed. The airlines I am aware of do not require a child restraint device. Naturally in an all-out "crash" the car seat or other restraint would not likely make any difference, but I do think it would make a difference in severe turbulence, sudden drops, or even hard landings....the sort of incidents that are more common.

    From what I have gathered, as the seats get fancier, child restraint devices become more of an issue. They don't fit around the shell of the seat, or aren't compatible with the seat belt air bag, can't go in rear facing seats,etc.

    That list above does look outdated - I think more and more we are seeing specific aircraft types and specific cabins that don't allow child restraint systems. In my "imaginary world" I want to build a page on my site that houses all this info. It won't happen overnight, and will likely be difficult to keep up-to-date, but I do hope to try. At the very least, I can promise more posts on the issue.

    Look forward to others chiming in on this tough issue!
     
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  9. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

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    It has been many years since we traveled with toddlers (ours are now 24, 22 and 19), and seats have changed through the years, however we almost always flew first class and to the best of my recollection, we stopped using any kind of restraint other than the airline belts when they were around 18 months old. We have always traveled frequently and the kids started traveling almost immediately after birth. By the time they were 18 months old they were seasoned travelers, and other than the usual complications with little ones, we never really had problems. We did bring lots of goodies to keep them occupied when awake. We occasionally received nasty looks from other passengers when boarding, but no one ever complained to us when we were up in the air.
     
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  10. LizzyDragon84
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    LizzyDragon84 Gold Member

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    I have a copy of the FARs (I'm a student pilot), so I'll take a look later today to see if I can find anything about this in those regulations.

    As far as I know- child seats are not required on any US airline. How else could lap children be allowed? My understanding is that if a child seat is used, it has to be FAA-approved (usually indicated with a sticker somewhere). Otherwise, the child can sit restraint-free in their own seat as long as they buckle up.

    My understanding is that the FAA allows things like lap children because the DOT doesn't want parents to become discouraged and choose to drive instead, since driving with restraints is more risky then flying without them. Thus, that's why I'm thinking additional restraints aren't required.
     
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  11. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    I was assuming that you wanted to bring a car seat. If you'd actually rather leave it behind, I'm 98% certain that you're not expected or required to use one for a child, no matter how young. Check with the airline first, of course, but I'm almost certain you'll be fine.
     
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  12. MLW20
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    MLW20 Gold Member

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    We just got back from SE Asia and flew biz class on Egypt Air and Singapore Air. We brought our 7.5 month old son as a lap baby. For the Egypt Air flights we just held him but for the SIN flights they gave us a belt for him that they made sure we used for take-offs & landings. We had our own harness that they did not want us to use.

    During the flight they offered us an empty seat for him but he likes to be held so we politely declined the nice offer. We didn't get any nasty looks on any of the flights. On one of the SIN flights a couple behind us were chatting with us and ended up holding him a bit as my wife was hanging out and talking with them.

    A nice touch by SIN was asking us if we wanted to take turns with meal service so one of us could hold the baby while the other ate. We did end up eating that way and it worked out really well.
     
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  13. IkeEsq

    IkeEsq Gold Member

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    FWIW, we flew JFK-HEL-ARN (AY) and BRU-JFK-DCA (AA) in Y last month with a 4-yo in a seatbelt. No issues.

    Perhaps there is research on this of which I am blissfully unaware but I am not sure that a carseat is a significant advantage over a seatbelt on a plane. The main issue in turbulance and sudden drops is an unrestrained individual crashing into something, right? If the child is wearing a seatbelt, they won't be flying into anything. Short of really extreme turbulance they are unlikely to be injured at all and in the worst turbulance they are likely injured by the partial restraint.
     
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  14. Singapore Flyer

    Singapore Flyer Silver Member

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    That has always been our experience on SQ, CX too for that matter, but be careful of getting the instant noodles on CX. We got a FA in trouble because our 2y.o was eating some of it and spilled (wasn't hot) and her supervisor got upset with her. Kids under 12 IIRC, aren't allowed to eat them.
     
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  15. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    I actually don't want to bring one, or at the very least not have to lug it around through the airport because even when you have ways of carrying it, it's still a pain in the ass. Even if you only have a carry-on you'd still need to carry the child, the seat (or the child in the seat) plus a bag with goodies for him in the flight, and hoof it from the checkpoint to the gate... no small feat on larger airports.

    But if I'm actually not required to have one onboard then I can either leave it at home or check it curbside.

    Incidentally, thanks everybody for their responses.
     
  16. LizzyDragon84
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    LizzyDragon84 Gold Member

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    Okay, I pulled out my regulations book and FAR 135.128 states that everyone two years of age and older has to have their own seat and seat belt. That's it. No other restraints are required.

    Under the age of two, the child can sit in the lap of an adult or use a child-restraint system.

    One interesting restriction is that a lap child can't be in any kind of restraint. So no child belts that attach to the parent's belt.

    Edit: As Mommypoints mentions below, this is for US airlines. Other airlines may have different requirements.
     
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  17. mommypoints

    mommypoints Gold Member

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    Very true for the US, but it is interesting how it varies around the world. The OP, if you are looking to avoid bringing a car seat, then you are in luck. Though bringing one truly isn't that bad in terms of the airport experience if you just get one of those contraptions that allows you to wheel it through while the kiddo sits in the seat. What you do with it at your final destination is a different issue.

    Kids 3-4 may not statistically be any safer in a car seat than just a lap belt, but for little kiddos it is a real issue. I sure do wish there were more studies available on this sort of stuff. The cynic in me says that there isn't more data released for the same reason that lap children are allowed in the first place (so that families don't travel more by car).
     
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  18. LizzyDragon84
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    LizzyDragon84 Gold Member

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    It is interesting just how much variation in the rules exist worldwide. For example, the FAA bans lap child restraints while in Australia they're required. The FAA's concern stems from an accident where a restrained lap child was crushed when the parent's body folded over them during the crash.

    Either way, lap children are goners in a serious crash. Parents can't hold onto them, and they're squished if restrained. But I understand why the DOT doesn't ban them- they're safer than in a car.
     
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  19. IkeEsq

    IkeEsq Gold Member

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    As an aside, we arranged for a car to pick us up in Stockholm at the airport and notified them that we had a 3-4 yo and they had a booster seat. The cab I called from the Hertz counter in Kiel had a booster seat in the trunk.
     
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  20. sellthesedownfalls

    sellthesedownfalls Silver Member

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    This is not really helpful, just an observation:

    I don't have any kids (yet?), and I get where you guys are coming from regarding wanting your children to be the safest possible at all times, but I'm wondering where the convenience line gets drawn.

    Do you bring booster seats and seatbelts and other restraints on long train rides? What about on the subway or a city bus? I don't think it's possible to make your kid safe at all times, and there has to be an asymptotic limit of how close to safe anyone can get.
     
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  21. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    I think you're missing the point (as I did, initially). The OP does not want to bring a car seat on the trip and is wondering whether the airlines require one. It's a matter of seeking convenience over safety, not the other way around.
     
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  22. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Doesn't everyone make their toddlers wear a Mars Rover airbag suite?

    [​IMG]
     
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  23. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Well that's a good point though, but there are obviously other concerns. If you're dealing with a bus ride home or to the car rental place then it doesn't matter, but if you're renting a car while you're on vacation you need a car seat, not only because it's a safety issue but because (AFAIK) it's the law -- at least in the US.
     
  24. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Yep... that was my point exactly. IF you're required to bring one, how does that play out with some of the funky seats in premium cabins nowadays.

    Now that I know (think) that no airline would actually require it, I think I'm all set. However, it's always good information to have and share because people are born every single day. :)
     
  25. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    If you're still concerned, I find that a roll or two of duct tape can come in handy in all sorts of ways. . .
     

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