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:

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:

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:

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.

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.

Packing

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:

Pre-boarding

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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