It is important to plan any trip by air. It is even more important when you plan to fly with young children. A little extra planning can make the flight a peaceful and pleasant experience for you, your children and other travellers.
If given the option, consider taking advantage of an airline’s offer to pre-board with your children. A few extra minutes to settle yourself and the little ones in can make all the difference for an enjoyable flight.
Flying with children checklist
The general rule is to pack light for a flight, that is, unless you are travelling with children! It is not easy for a child to sit quietly for hours at a time. As their parent or guardian, it is up to you to provide them with enough entertainment to make it to the end of flight.
Here are some items you may need or want to bring with you on the plane:
- car seat
- stroller (check with your airline for related policies)
- diapers (enough for the flight and a few extra)
- changing pad
- change of clothes
- bottles (enough for flight plus 2-3 extra)
- powdered formula (in premeasured container)
- sippy cup
- favourite soft toy
- new small toys
- 1–2 favourite books
- 1–2 new books
- movie player and movies
- child-friendly headphones
For the safety of both the adult and the child, Canadian Aviation Regulations require that no one person can be responsible for more than one infant (children under the age of two).
If a situation arises in which it is necessary to evacuate an aircraft, the evacuation must be carried out as quickly as possible. It would be very difficult and time-consuming to evacuate an aircraft while holding two or more infants because the rows, aisles and emergency exit openings are very narrow.
Child safety restraints
Aircraft seats are designed to different standards than automobile seats and some devices work differently and fit differently in them.
- Booster seats are designed to be used for older children who have outgrown their car seat. These devices are not approved for use in an aircraft as they must be used with an automobile lap and shoulder belt.
- Child vests and harnesses are not approved for use on an aircraft as testing has demonstrated that they will not protect a child in the aircraft environment.
- “Belly” or “loop” belts are intended for infant use and are attached to an adult’s safety belt by feeding the adult’s belt segments through a loop on the infant’s belt. The adult’s belt segments are then fastened together, the infant placed on the adult’s lap, and the infant’s belt is then fastened around the infant. These devices are not approved for use in an aircraft, as they will not protect the infant from injury.
Passengers may use an approved child restraint system (car seat) when travelling by air with infants or children, although manufacturers have never tested child seats for use in airlines. An infant under two years of age may be held in an adult’s arms, but using an approved car seat during a flight:
- protects your child
- ensures their comfort while travelling
- brings a familiar car seat to your destination
If you decide to use a car seat, always:
- check with your airline for its specific policies
- follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions
- tighten the aircraft seat belt through the correct path on the car seat
- secure straps out of the way since tether straps cannot be used on board the aircraft
An approved child restraint system meets the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (CMVSS) 213 or 213.1. A statement of compliance label must be affixed to the restraint system indicating compliance with this standard to be accepted for use on board the aircraft.
The AmSafe CARES device is a new child restraint device designed for use on board aircraft. It is specifically designed for children ages 1 to 4 weighing between 10–20 kg (22–44 pounds) and 100 cm (40 inches) or less in height. It uses the existing aircraft passenger safety belt and holds the upper torso of the child against the back of the seat.