Infant Car Seats on Planes Might Become Mandatory

Julie Ryan Evans

baby at airport

Overflowing diaper bag, stroller, portable DVD player, wailing toddler in tow, trying to make it through security without being molested by a TSA agent and to your gate with without losing your mind -- traveling with an infant isn't for the weak. So when given a choice to avoid adding an infant car seat to the mix, many parents do.

They may not be able to for long though.

Later this week, the National Transportation Safety Board is going to debate a hot issue: Should infants under 2 be required to ride in a car seat rather than on a parent's lap?

While my first instinct is to yell, NOOOO!, the fact is it's about time.

We know our babies are safer when strapped in rather than in our arms. According to the Federal Aviation, a look back at accidents shows babies in car seats survived, while those not in them have died or been injured.

"Every single thing on that airplane down to the coffee pots are required to be properly restrained except children under the age of 2,” Patricia Friend, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, told The New York Times. “It’s just physically impossible, no matter how much a parent loves that child, given deceleration forces of an aircraft in a crash to hold onto that child."

The problem is that it's so temping to skip the expense and the hassle and just keep them snuggled on our lap.

I have traveled countless times with my children on my lap, and each time I've felt guilty, hoping for the best and panicking and regretting my decision with each hint of turbulence.

And I admit as I look at our travel schedule for next year, I've been bemoaning my daughter's second birthday in January, because now instead of three plane tickets, we're going to have to buy four. We're not going to be traveling as much, that's for sure.

Which is exactly why it's likely been unmandated until now -- airlines don't want to lose fares.

But no parent should be forced to make a decision about her baby's safety based on finances. If you can't afford fare for your entire family, then you should just forgo the air travel. Burdensome, but true.

It's just too easy to take the easy way out, so making it mandatory seems like the best choice for the babies -- whose welfare should really rise above any other inconveniences.

Of course, it would be great if airlines would work with parents -- more could offer seats on board to eliminate parents having to haul them around, and whatever happened to discounted children's fares?

But given the unlikelihood of that, I might start looking into train schedules.

Do you think infant seats should be required on airplanes?

Image via ryaninc/Flickr

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