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I originally posted this in "Off Topic" forum in a response to shindog post about being in Taipei. I want to post it here in the "Kids and Safety" forum to see what other odyclub members think about using car seats in air planes and in foreign places where the custom is not to use car seats.

We spent 20+ hours from Toronto to Hong Kong via Vancouver. The trip back should be a couple of hours shorter due to the jet stream (?). We been here for about 14 days and still have about a week to go. I’ve seen lots of 1st Gen Odyssey but no 2nd Gen at all. I asked friends and they have not heard of the 2nd Gen Odyssey or Lagreat at all. There are a lot of Previa, older ones and I think Sienna with different bodywork to make them look like the old Previa and are called Previa. I believe safety is not a important selling feature in Hong Kong, this is why I believe they kept the Previa name with the newer model, while in North America they change the name to Sienna and even the looks from the old Previa (that was crash tested so poorly).

The long trip over was hard on our 2 ½ years old and 10 months old daughters. We brought our two Fisher Price car seat on the plane. We paid for a seat for the 10 months old (we could have held her in our lap for free). They just did not want to be in the car seat for the whole trip. We had to hold both of them for about just under ½ the time due to crying and wanted to be held. We put them back when the seat belt sign came on (turbulence, take off and landing) and whenever they would not cry in the car seats. The longest car trip we have taken was about 6 hours straight in a car with many stops along the way. A 20 hours flight is a long time to be strapped in.

We thought (actually, I am more concern about bringing the car seats on the airplane and to Hong Kong than my wife, who feel its not as necessary) that bringing the car seats on the airplane and using them in Hong Kong would be the safer thing to do. I changed our airline from Cathay Pacific to Air Canada because Cathay with their antiquated rules does not allow rear-facing car seats for infant in the cabin! Our 10 months old need to be in a rear facing car seat until one year old and over 20 pounds at a minimum.

As the vast majority of people in Hong Kong who have cars (only a minority have cars, cars cost about double the price in North America) do not use car seats at all. Most people don’t use seat belts in the back seat. They let children ride in the front seat of cars with airbags alone, or with an adult holding on to them with the seat belt around both the adult and child. Even my wife’s friends who grew up in Canada or spent their schooling in Canada don’t use car seats for infant or children! It seems
Hong Kong is about 20 years behind North America in terms of safety for car seats.

On the positive side of driving in Hong Kong, the drivers in my opinion are more precise and skilled. They pass and merge with smaller clearances then in North America, at least in Toronto. They actually obey solid and dashed line! I think most drivers in Toronto don’t know what the solid vs. dashed lines means! Parking are order of magnitudes tighter than in Toronto, the parking spots are smaller and there are so many high end (wider) cars, and you don’t see too many door dings on the side of cars.

I will cross post this in the Kids and Safety forum to start a discussion on how many people bring their car seats for their kids on airplane and how people feel about it. Do you also bring your child’s car seat with you on foreign trips? When it is socially unacceptable not to use a car seat for kids in cars in North America, why is it in air plane do most people hold their kids in their arms instead of having a car seat? Beside from an economic point of view, that it would put a financial hardship on a lot of people. I hear that the FAA is considering mandating separate seat and some sort of car seat for all children in airplanes in 2002. I would propose that under the new rules, FAA and Department of Transport in Canada tell the airlines to offer seats for children under one who can fly free now a seat a at no charge if there are extra seats on the flight, and if the flight is fully booked, then charge the child a lower rate. This would have to be done on a pre paid basis and get a refund after the flight if there were extra seats on the flight. What do people think?
 

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We have used car seats (rear facing, foward facing, and booster) on every flight we have taken with our kids with one exception. This summer our son (who was 4.5 then) used the regular belt only as the airline did not allow the use of a booster without the harness and he now is too heavy for that harness. The booster was checked so we could use it in the rental car.

All our flights have been domestic. Without exception, the airlines have given us a 50% discount for an infant using a car seat as long as they are under 2 years of age. Since airline travel is priced reasonably on the flights we take, it is a no brainer in my opinion to pay for that seat. I tend to be cheap on myself, but I couldn't deal with it if anything happened to my kids because I tried to save on airfare.

I believe the airlines prefer you use the car seat if possible. The kids know and feel comfortable in their car seats and are safer there than in your lap. The airlines want your experience to be a safe and happy one. It seems the flight attendants go out of their way to make it easy for the kids - especially when the parents take responsibility for keeping them entertained and happy.

Some things we do:

Check as much as possible. We carry on only a backpack with coloring books, crayons, barrel of monkeys, dolly, Rescue Heroes and Cheerios/Goldfish/Fruit Bars. We also carry on a small bag with our essentials.

We get aisle seat across from each other so we parental units can switch seats easily to entertain our daughter in the car seat.

We try to take flight less than 3 hours long. Although making connections at ORD or IAD can be thrilling, the kids (and we) need a break. If that can't be done (international), then plan for a rough trip. Kids love routines. The trip may be fun for a few hours, but eventually they want things to be normal.

Lastly, plan for the rough trip I mentioned above. Our last trip (Manchester, NH to Tulsa, OK via O'Hare) was timed to be about 12 hours door to door. It turned out to be 19 hours until we settled into our hotel room. One late departure, one missed connection, two phantom rebookings, one airline switch, and one case of lackus car rentalis made for a fun trip. Luckily O'Hare has a playground where we spend a couple of hours while waiting.

Sorry so long. Bottom line, we use the car seats on planes.

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00 EX - Taffeta White
MacNeil Deflector, Weathertech Mats, Mud Guards, Panavise Phone Holder,
Cheerios and Goldfish on floor and under car seats.
 

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So far our 19 month toddler had three trips in his travel log. Two flight to Taiwan, and one short 5 hours hop to Chicago.

All three trip we didn't use a car seat. Reasons are, too expensive to just buy a seat for him since he'll just walk around in the airplane with the parents chasing after him.

We'll hold him on our lap during takeoff and landing, or when the ride gets little bumpy (he gets a kick out the turbulence ).

Yung
 

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We always used the car seats on airplanes although all our flights were domestic. If you think about it, the chance of injury without them is very small but if an incident occurs the probability of serious injury could be substantial. For example, there is only a small chance of sudden drop in altitude but if the child impacts the bulkhead it could suffer a serious head injury. I have only read of isolated cases but it does happen and I would hate to see it happen to any child. So, spend the money and have the peace of mind that you are doing the right thing.
 

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We have done both, car seats and not. I flew my wife and 1.5 year old daughter to Hawaii from Saint Louis, and we bought a seat for that because trying to hold a squirmy 1.5 year old for a long flight is too much. At least if they have a seat they can go there. We will always buy seats except for short flights (< 2hrs) with an infant. And we always use car seats when we buy a seat. Even when we don't buy a seat, we check the car seat for use at destination. After all, the car seat is for protection in an accident. Accidents aren't less dangerous if you are not at home....

FWIW
 

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We have always used car seats with our small kids on airplanes. It is irresponsible to not do so. If an adult should be buckled into a seat, why should kids not be buckled into a seat???

Adults have been killed by sudden unexpected turbulence. All passengers, especially children, should always be buckled into a seat. Holding a baby on one's lap offers no protection in an accident, just the same as doing that in a car.

I can't understand the logic of "buying seats except for short flights." A short flight carries the same risk as a long flight. That's like not using a car's seat belt for short car trips, just on long car trips.

Plus, if you buy a seat for your kids you will start earning frequent flyer mileage! Our 3 year old already has earned a free ticket.

The FAA and airlines should mandate that car seats be used for kids, just as they are when traveling in cars. On a point raised in the first post, I can't imagine airlines offering seats for free (or lower cost) if there are empty seats, just to make it affordable to use a car seat for kids. If they did that, might as well extend that logic to adults who can't afford to fly and who could use an unsold vacant seat.

There are some things we have learned when using car seats on airplanes:

Car seats have to be in the window seat. If you board and initially place the car seat in an aisle or center seat, the flight attendants will make you change.

Car seats can't be in exit rows or a row behind an exit row. On a flight last week we had four seats in the two rows just behind an exit row. Not knowing that car seats can't go in the row behind an exit row, we initially had the car seat in that row and a larger child in the row behind that. While taxing an attendant noticed it and had the plane stopped so the kids could be swapped. (The attendant asked if there was anything she could do to help, and I said jokingly "Besides noticing this ten minutes ago?".)

If when you book a flight the airline says that they can't assign seats and that it must be done at the airport, point out that you will be using a car seat that must be in a window seat, with you next to it. They will probably make an exception and manage to assign seats at that point.

Sometimes the seatbelt configuration is quite difficult to latch tightly with a car seat, like when the buckle is next to an armrest or would be under the car seat itself, etc. If this happens, ask a flight attendant for a seatbelt extender that they have for very large people. Using an extender makes it very easy to buckle a car seat.

Another person mentioned that belt positioning booster seats can't be used in airplanes (because there are no shoulder belts). Instead of checking the booster seat, you can gate check it instead. We once had our checked booster seat not get loaded onto a plane, and therefore we didn't have it when we returned home. The airlines have loaner car seats, but not loaner booster seats. By doing a gate check you are more assured that your seat will make it to your destination.

[This message has been edited by Steve P (edited 02-21-2002).]

[This message has been edited by Steve P (edited 02-22-2002).]
 
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