This article, entitled How To Tote a Car Seat Through An Airport Without Losing Your Mind (Or Spending A Fortune) comes from Courtney Rubin at partner site Embracing the Insanity.
I’m the first to admit that the scariest part about flying cross-country with our three young children was thinking about how in the world we were going to get our 2-year-old (Big Trouble) to sit still on the flights. I mean, he doesn’t sit still at home or nearly anywhere else, so why would I even think he would stay in an easily escapable plane seat? Even though I have never used a car seat on a flight before, I knew I really didn’t have any other options if I didn’t want our flight crew to kick us off the plane. My tiny “angel” had to be strapped in.
I started asking around and getting ideas from various people and friends and family and while the consensus was that it is a pain to use a car seat on an airplane (yes, it is, when you factor in the narrow aisles and even smaller areas for leg room between the seats while you are trying to set everything up), there are things you can use to get it around the airport without a lot of trouble; everything from specialty bags with wheels, to collapsible luggage carts, to specialized straps that you can buy to attach the seat to a rolling luggage. The prices ranged from $19.95 to over $100.
Well, there was no way I was going to spend a ton of money when we hardly ever fly, not to mention that a lot of these products had to be ordered well in advance and had numerous reviews citing that they are not as easy to use as they appear so I would need to practice so that I don’t hold up the line at security and getting on and off the plane. Um, no; having to practice something hardly makes it easy. But, we had a TON of luggage that would be going with us and there was no way anyone could carry the car seat through the airport. So, I looked around for an alternative and, guess what? I found it very easily for $1.50 at the hardware store.
The mystery item that was the secret to my success? A bungee cord with plastic hooks. Seriously. That’s it. It is an adjustable cord that allows it to go from 24″ to 42″ so it will fit any size car seat and rolling carry-on luggage (no, it was not created especially for this purpose but I had no idea what size I would need so the adjustable worked beautifully). And, it literally took me about 10 seconds to strap together and less than that to take it apart. Every time. Absolute life saver in my book.
Just flip the seat upside down, place it on top of the luggage and strap on. Never had an issue with it sliding or falling off or not wheeling correctly, etc. And, the cord doesn’t have metal so it’s safe for you, security doesn’t think you are going to use it as a weapon on anyone else, and it’s easily stored in a back pack or the rolling carry-on until the next use.
The car seat worked well for us and Big Trouble was renamed “Just a Little Trouble Because We’re Flying At Awful Times” for the duration of our flights to the West Coast and back home again.
Seriously, if you are flying and need to bring a car seat, even if you just check it at the gate so that there’s no fear of losing it along the way, this is the way to go!!! Now, if only I could have figured out how to strap Big Trouble to the bigger luggage…