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Lap Child or Cart Seat?

dickersonhouse
New Arrival

Hi everyone, 

We are traveling soon for the first time with an 18 month old and are wanting to treat her as a lap child. I read in the policies that we can do this. 

 

BUT.....

before I read this policy, I purchased a seat for her.....(I know, I know)

 

My question: am I now obligated to bring a car seat and use the seat I purchased for her or can I just treat her like a lap child, bring her birth certificate and check in like it says we can with a lap child and then just leave the extra seat empty? 

7 REPLIES 7

Re: Lap Child or Cart Seat?

CareforNOLA
Active Member

@dickersonhouse,

you have asked a tough question.  I am not completely sure of the answer but I think you would not have to use a car seat in the purchased seat for her unless you wanted to for safety reasons.  But if the flight attendant decides the child needed to be in that seat for take-off and landing, it would probably be best to cooperate, even if the child is fussing.  I have seen where an attendant required the parent to put the child in a purchased seat but I do not know if the request was being made because the child was over age two.  The little guy was pretty miserable and wanted to be in mom’s lap, but fortunately, take-off does not last that long.  Having the extra seat should come in handy for spreading out a bit during flight, even if she is in your lap for take-off and landing.

 

One hint for you.  Do not give the child something to drink while the plane is boarding if you can help it.  If she is thirsty during liftoff and can take a few sips then, it helps ease ear pain.  I see parents give their infant a bottle trying to keep them quiet but then they are full when the plane takes off and can be inconsolable ( plus full if they get sick).

 

 Good luck and I hope all goes well.

Re: Lap Child or Cart Seat?

DancingDavidE
Top Contributor

@dickersonhouse wrote:

 

 

My question: am I now obligated to bring a car seat and use the seat I purchased for her or can I just treat her like a lap child, bring her birth certificate and check in like it says we can with a lap child and then just leave the extra seat empty? 


Usually it is the opposite - the benefit of a lap child is that they are free, but people would rather have an empty!

 

I don't think you are obligated to bring a car seat, and you'd be entitled to that empty spot when she's on your lap at take-off and landing, or other times.

Home airport MDW, frequent visitor to MCO to see the mouse.

Re: Lap Child or Cart Seat?

TheMiddleSeat
Rising Star
Solution

I would encourage the use of a car seat, strictly from a safety perspective.  Any sort of unexpected turbulence and horrible things could happen with a lap child.  But, to answer your question, I don't think you have obligated yourself to bringing a car seat as a child under 2 years of age can be a lap child.  Car seat or not, you will want to check the child in as a ticketed passenger.  Unless you purchased a child fare, you won't need a birth certificate as that is only needed for a free lap child or child fare.  Additionally, when boarding the plane make sure the child's boarding pass gets scanned.  Otherwise they will consider the child a no-show and could give the seat to someone else trying to get onto the flight, ruining your plan of having the empty seat.  If the boarding pass is scanned, the child is included in the count, just make sure the flight crew knows child is ticketed if you decide to have her be a lap child so they aren't searching for a person when verifying the count.

 

--TheMiddleSeat

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Re: Lap Child or Cart Seat?

elijahbrantley
Rising Star
Solution

Interesting situation here...

 

First of all, any child under the age of two can be a lap child.  You have to provide the brith certificate, and you can have the child added to your ticket via phone or up check in at the airport.  Anything you read will tell you that this is not the safest way to travel, but sometimes, it is all that folks can afford.  Keep in mind that with SW, there may be a seat beside you that is open, but that is a gamble.  This has happened with us many times while we had a lap child, but you never know.  Also, keep in mind that you can cancel the child's ticket, and the credit for what you paid can be re-used up to one year from the purchase date, I believe.

 

Since you already purchased the seat, I would keep it and bring the car seat.  Two benefits: 1) the child's safety, and 2) you will ensure the car seat goes with you undamaged.  SW does not cover damage to checked car seats.  

 

If you want some additional thoughts, check out these:

https://saferide4kids.com/blog/faa-car-seats-flying-with-children/

https://www.faa.gov/travelers/fly_children/

http://faa.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/29/kw/child/session/L3RpbWUvMTUyNDU3MDUxMS9zaWQva2hT...

-A List Preferred, Companion Pass holder, Community Champion.
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Re: Lap Child or Cart Seat?

DancingDavidE
Top Contributor

Today and tomorrow are our last lap child flights. I believe we'll pickup one of these for May when we will be buying tickets.

 

https://www.faa.gov/travelers/fly_children/#cares

 

 

Home airport MDW, frequent visitor to MCO to see the mouse.

Re: Lap Child or Cart Seat?

TheMiddleSeat
Rising Star
Solution

@DancingDavidE, highly recommended, worked great for my little one. We also had a small section of that rubbery shelf liner we put down on the seat to prevent kid from sliding down/off the seat. Just a little tip for you.

 

--TheMiddleSeat

Re: Lap Child or Cart Seat?

dickersonhouse
New Arrival

Thank you so much@elijahbrantley! I purchased one of the CARES systems just now-this solves my dilemma-so thank you!!!!