DT reader Darren and his gang are planning a trip to France and Switzerland soon, and he was considering putting his kid in a CARES Safety Harness--which is FAA-approved--rather than haul a freakin' car seat around the Alps on a train for two weeks.
But USAirways' children's travel policies are not entirely jibing with each other, much less the FAA: First, check out the screenshot from USAir's site, which clearly--and incorrectly, and with multiple typos--states, "Vest and harness type child restrains [sic] or belly belts" are "Unacceptable". Then Darren says,
I called the airline twice and got two different answers on the topic, in typical fashion – one negative and one “probably not but up to the flight attendants”. I suspect that I would probably get a third answer if I called again.On the CARES FAQ, meanwhile, it sounds like the harness company is psyching customers up for a showdown which may affect your on-time departure:
Q. Do I need permission from my airline to use CARES?So there you have it. There are even links to printable FAA documentation that you can present if "challenged." All of which is cold comfort if your flight attendant decides to give you the boot for an unchallengeable reason like "not following flight attendant instructions" instead. Has anyone had experience flying with a CARES harness on USAirways or anyone else? Any tips or suggestions? Darren's back might thank you.
A. No. CARES is certified by the FAA for use on all U.S. registered airlines. Because CARES is a new product and is a unique harness type child safety restraint, some airline personnel may not yet be familiar with it . Parents have the right to bring CARES on board for their children and airline personnel may not prevent you from using CARES for your child. This is a Federal Aviation Administration – not an individual airline - decision and it applies to all U.S. airlines.
update: here's United's comparable policy, which is very specific about the kinds of harnesses and belly belts it doesn't allow. Their policy sounds like it won't improperly snag the CARES:
The following child restraint devices may not be used on board the aircraft: booster seats, belly belts which attach to adult seat belts only, and vests or harnesses which hold the infant to the chest of the adult.The other major airlines' stated policies are after the jump. They run the gamut, but there's one thing they have in common: they make it look like USAir doesn't like to sweat the pesky official-type details on flying with kids.
Restraints that are Not PermittedContinental:
We do not permit the following types of car seats:
# Vest and harness-type child restraint devices other than the FAA approved CARES restraint device.
Children unable to sit upright with the seat belt fastened must be carried in an FAA approved infant seat if not being held by an adult. Continental does not provide infant seats.The infant seat must be secured in an aircraft seat and cannot be held in an adult's lap.Northwest: nothing but a link to the FAA's "Travel With Children" page.
Aviation Child Safety Device (ACSD) Learn more about this lightweight, convenient option to enhance your child's safety while flying.Southwest doesn't fly interationally, but their Taking The Kids section gets special mention anyway, for their parent-invented travel device stories, their vacation tips for single dads, and their smooth segue from child restraint policy to sales pitch:
Under 20 pounds, they should be in a rear-facing seat; from 20 to 40 pounds in a forward-facing child restraint. Children over 40 pounds may safely use an aircraft seat belt. Visit www.faa.gov/passengers/childsafetyseats for more information. Southwest was the first carrier to offer a fare that would give parents a low-cost alternative to traveling with a lap child. Southwest’s affordable Infant Fares are available for children less than 2 years-old who occupy a seat (with an FAA-approved car seat) and who are accompanied by a customer aged 12 or older.12/21 update: Southwest has since updated their child restraint policy. They now mention the CARES harness by name, and they also cite the very car seat-ish Century Breverra booster seat as approved, the only booster seat I've seen get an airline nod. [thanks dt reader steve for the heads up.]
Child aviation restraint systems (CARES) are also certified by the FAA for use during all phases of flight including taxiing, takeoff, landing and during periods of turbulence. CARES is a belt-and-buckle device that attaches directly to the
aircraft seatbelt. It is designed for children over one year old, weighing between 22 and 44 pounds.