September 7, 2006

FAA: No Airline CARES, So Now Parents Can Buy Carseat Replacement Themselves

cares_airplane_harness.jpgPlane travel with a kid is set to get easier, and by "easier," I mean "$80 more expensive and now involves checked car seats instead of carried ones."

A while back, the FAA approved the use of seatbelt-supplementing harnesses as in-flight child restraint devices for kids over 1yo and weighing between 22 and 44 pounds.

Or should I say the "civilian use." Apparently, the airlines have been authorized to provide harnesses like the CARES--the first such approved device, which was developed by airplane seatbelt manufacturer AmSafe Aviation--for some time now, only no airline has been bothered enough to actually offer them. [Ponder THAT the next time you schlepp your Britax through the airport. Airlines, you are seriously teh suck.]

But yesterday's announcement of CARES approval means the 1-lb, folds-into-a-tiny-bag-sized CARES, is now cleared for retail takeoff. AmSafe is taking pre-orders at their quaint, industrial-grade site, KidsFlySafe.com.

The CARES consists of a horizontal belt that wraps around the seat [and that naturally doesn't block the tray, phone, or TV screen of the person behind you, right? Right??] and an H-shaped chest harness that connects to the plane's own lapbelt. Sounds simple enough, and I'm sure that the first parents who try to use it will find flight attendants are fully versed in its installation and ready to assist you in anyway possible.

Of course, it doesn't look all that nap-friendly, and if your trip involves a car, you'll still need a carseat when you land, so rather than simplifying anything, the CARES-for-carseat swap only multiplies and displaces your gear needs.

But it does promise to make the airport terminal experience a little less cumbersome. At least until United loses your carseat, or until the TSA bans webbed belts along with everything else.

[An editorial note: I really was going to post about this yesterday, before I cut my finger off, so thanks to the Gulfstream V-load of people who sent this in, and apologies for the delay. You can't take delivery before the end of September anyway, so the only thing at stake is the Daddy Types gear scoop tally, which is already in negative territory.]


Preorder the CARES Child Aviation REStraint, $75 [kidsflysafe.com]
Press release: FAA Approves New Child Safety Device [faa.gov]
"Flying with baby just got easier" [npr's marketplace - audio]

1 Comment

$75 does seem steep for what amounts to a bunch of seatbelting that really ought to be provided by the airlines.

Then again, I am totally thrilled to take the huge Britax Marathon on airplanes and through airports since I plunked down the $90 or so on the gogokidz wheelie attachment. Yes, it's still cumbersome on teeny puddle jumper planes (which there is always at least one of on our itineraries, since we live in Wichita) but for the most part wheeling the kid around in her already-familiar carseat has been very, very nice indeed.

And I would also like to take this opportunity to give a shout-out to all you air-commuting daddies who hanker at the chance to liberate and carry the monster (carseat, not the kid) off the plane TOTALLY UNBIDDEN. You guys are better than my husband! I swear, every time I've traveled alone some guy has asked me if I could use a hand, usually before the landing gear has even dropped. And on no occasions was the kid freaking out or acting like she was going to freak out. These guys just like to help, because it reminds them of their own kids, I guess. I had no idea people were so friendly and helpful.

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