When flying with babies and toddlers you’ll often travel with their car seats. Most airlines allow you to check your car seat for free so don’t worry about paying to bring it. However, a big question is whether you should you gate check your car seat or check it at the ticket counter. Here are 3 reasons to always gate check your car seat.
Gate Checking Your Car Seat Means It’s Less Likely to Be Damaged
If you are escorting your car seat to the gate there will be less people handling it. This means the chances of it being damaged while traveling through the airport are a lot smaller. You still want to protect it from the dirt and germs it will come in contact with while under the plane. Get a car seat protector bag you can put it in before handing it over to the gate agents. The last thing you want is for your babies face to be rubbed up against a car seat that got dirty while being under the plane with everyone’s luggage.
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Gate Checked Items Are Rarely Lost!
How many times has an airline lost your checked luggage? How when your luggage doesn’t make your flight and has to be delivered at a later time? An airline losing your car seat would surely start your vacation off on the wrong foot. Sometimes airlines have car seats available for passengers in instances they lose yours. However, it’s not a guarantee and you never know the condition of the one they provide.
If you are renting a car at the airport and that company rents car seats you could potentially get one if they have any available. However, if they don’t, one person would have to get the rental and go and buy a car seat and then come back for you and your child.
But what if you are traveling alone, then what? If you have a family member or friend picking you up they would now have to stop and buy one for you. If you planned on taking a taxi they most likely won’t have one especially if not pre-ordered. In big cities like New York City, there is Uber Family which provides car seat. Be sure to check out the restrictions on what children are allowed to use them. These all sound like issues I wouldn’t want to deal with!
You could get lucky and be able to bring your car seat on the plane!
Even if you didn’t pay for seat for your child under two if the flight isn’t full you may be lucky enough to get a seat for your lap child. Get to the gate early and ask the gate agent if there are any open seats on the flight. If there are, let them know you are traveling with a lap infant. If that seat isn’t already in your row ask if there is anyway passengers could be rearranged so your lap child could have their own seat.
To increase the chance of an open seat I always select our seats in the last few rows. I also choose the window and pick the aisle for my husband. The rows in the back along with middle seats always fill up last. If the flight doesn’t sell out these seats are usually open. The gate agents and flight attendants I have encountered on many airlines are usually more than willing to assist. The more comfortable your child, the smoother the plane ride for everyone. Just don’t ask the gate agent to reassign seats if you get to the gate during final boarding!
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