Taking children on a plane
From Transport Canada
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Taking children on a plane requires careful planning and preparation. This page provides specific rules on flying with children and using child restraint systems (car seats) on board the aircraft. It also includes packing and pre-boarding tips to make your flight smoother and more pleasant.
One passenger for each child under 2 years old
For the safety of both adults and children, the Canadian Aviation Regulations require that no passenger can be responsible for more than one infant (child under the age of 2). If you have 2 children under the age of 2, another passenger must accompany one of your children, even if you buy seats for them. Evacuating an aircraft must be done quickly. It is difficult and dangerous to try to evacuate an aircraft while holding 2 or more infants because the rows, aisles and emergency exits are narrow.
Child restraint systems
Although children under 2 years old may be held in your arms during a flight, Transport Canada highly recommends that you use an approved child restraint system (car seat) for all phases of the flight. Any car seat intended for use on board an aircraft must have a statement of compliance label indicating the date it was manufactured and confirming that it meets the applicable design standard.
The use of a car seat provides the best protection for the infant or child and minimizes the effects of unanticipated turbulence. Using a familiar car seat will make your child more comfortable, and you can also use it when you reach your destination.
Using a child car seat
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
Aircraft seats are designed to different standards than automobile seats, so restraint devices may work differently and fit differently in them.
Child restraint systems approved for aircraft
Child restraint systems acceptable for use in Canadian aircraft must meet the following Canadian and foreign design standards:
- CAN-TSO-C100b or CAN-TSO-C100c
- Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 – Child Restraint Systems
- Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213.1 – Infant Restraint Systems
- United States Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 – Child Restraint Systems
- Australian/New Zealand Standard 1754:2013 (or later amendments) – Child restraint systems for use in motor vehicles
- United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Regulation No. 44 Revision 3 (or later amendments) – Uniform Provisions Concerning the Approval of Restraining Devices for Child Occupants of Power-Driven Vehicles (“Child Restraint Systems”) that has been qualified in accordance with German TÜV Doc. TÜV/958-01/2001 – Qualification Procedure for Child Restraint Systems for Use in Aircraft
To be used on board an aircraft, your device or car seat must have a statement of compliance label indicating the date it was manufactured and confirming that it meets the applicable design standard. Read the Child Restraint Systems and Other Seating Devices Advisory Circular for more information on the use of acceptable devices and labelling requirements.
The AmSafe CARES, a child restraint device designed for use on board aircraft, may be accepted for use by some airlines. Please check with your airline before your flight. This device is specifically designed for children weighing 10–20 kg (22–44 pounds) and under 100 cm (40 inches) tall. It uses the existing aircraft passenger safety belt and holds the upper torso of the child against the back of the seat. Transport Canada recommends that the AmSafe CARES device be used within the limitations specified by the manufacturer.
Devices not approved for use as child restraint systems on an aircraft
The following devices are not approved for use as child restraint systems on an aircraft:
- Booster seats (for older children who have outgrown their car seat)
- Not approved for use as child restraint systems on an aircraft, as they are designed to be used with a car lap and shoulder belt
- Child vests and harnesses, infant carriers and other similar carriers
- Not approved for use as child restraint systems on an aircraft, as they may not be used when the aircraft is moving on the ground, during takeoff and landing or when the safety belt sign is on
- "Belly" or "loop" belts, which 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
- Not approved for use as child restraint systems on an aircraft, as they could injure the infant in case of an accident
Using child or infant comfort devices on an airplane
These are portable items that can keep your child or baby comfortable during a flight. They may include devices like inflatable cushions, travel beds and hammocks.
- The airline and cabin crew decide whether or not to allow comfort devices. Always check with them before you travel.
- Stow away any permitted devices during taxi, takeoff, landing, or when directed by a crew member.
- These devices should not be used in:
- an emergency exit row
- a cross-aisle seat in the evacuation route
- an aisle seat
- anywhere where it could be an obstacle to other passengers
Planning is key
Planning is important when you fly with young children. A little strategic planning can make the flight a more pleasant experience for you, your children and other travellers.
The general rule is to pack lightly for a flight. However, this rule does not apply when travelling with children. It’s never easy for a child to sit quietly for long periods of time. As parent or guardian, it is up to you to supervise your child and provide him or her with enough entertainment to get to the end of the flight.
Here are some items you may need or want to bring with you on the plane:
- car seat (check with your airline for related policies)
- 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
If you are given the option, take advantage of an airline’s offer to pre-board with your children. A few extra minutes to settle yourself and your children can make all the difference. It gives you time to prepare for an enjoyable flight and allows the crew to provide you with an individual safety briefing to address your needs.
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