If you are traveling by plane with your child, you have several options when it comes to your car seat. If your car seat is FAA-approved and your child has their own plane seat, you can take it onboard to use during the flight. Otherwise, you will need to check it as luggage, either at the airline check-in counter or gate. Either way won’t cost you anything — all U.S. airlines and most international allow them free of charge. But nothing can wreck the trip more than finding your car seat damaged from its time in the hold.
The best way to ensure your car seat arrives in the same condition you dropped it off in is to put it into your own travel bag, not those plastic bags the airlines offer. A proper bag will offer protection during the flight, keeping it safe from scratches, dents, water, and even germs.
See more: Best Travel Strollers
To help you find the right travel bag, we turned to reviews from purchasers on Amazon. To make the list, the bag had to have at least 200 reviews and have earned a score of 4.0 or higher. Here are the car seat travel bags that should make the skies a little friendlier.
The Angel Baby cat seat travel bag is made from durable polyester that won't crack, tear, or fall apart. The cover is water-resistant. It has a padded strap that makes carrying it around more comfortable. Plus, the color alone will ensure you never lose it.
What sets this car seat travel bag apart from its brethren? It’s tougher, hardier, and more durable than a lot of other offerings out there because there’s double the amount of fabric.
“Perfect for checking at the gate. You see right away which carseat is yours, it protects your carseat from getting dirty and the handle makes it easy to tote through the airport. After one flight, it had a huge black streak on it from the people handling the luggage. So, glad I had this so the streak was on the bag and not our carseat!” said one reviewer.
This backpack bag offers thick wraparound padding to cocoon your seat while in the hold. It’s made from heavy-duty, puncture-resistant fabric and has a water-resistant anti-microbial inner lining.
This is one of the largest bags we found and will work best for use up front before security. With almost 1,800 reviews it was the highest reviewed bag and achieved a score of 4.4 stars.
“This bag is amazing,” said one reviewer. “I honestly didn’t worry about the car seat getting dirty because the bag closes well and I didn’t really worry about the seat being damaged because there is tons of padding. I also loved that there are straps so you can carry it like a backpack since we’re now a family of 4 and any free hand is much needed when traveling. I did use someone else’s trick and put some blankets, jackets, and toys in the bag when we checked it since we wouldn’t need those things on the plane.”
While not a bag, this item is equally life-saving. This luggage belt lets you cart around your car seat and other baby gear without needing a trip to the chiropractor. Plus, it works with every type of car seat that has a top tether.
Anyone who’s ever hauled a massive car seat through the airport knows it’s not fun. So, attach your favorite car seat, one that has a top tether, to your rolling luggage with this strap, and you’re literally ready to roll.
“This product is amazing! Super simple to use and extremely durable! Made traveling with two kids by myself super easy! I was going to get carseat trollies but could not figure out how I would pull the trollies and my suitcase all at once. Came across this and it is awesome! I will be getting another for my sons carseat if we happen to fly again and my husband is with! Definitely recommend this product for traveling!”
This bag can be carried both on your back via straps, and by a top-mounted handle It’s well-padded, water resistant, and has a lockable double zipper opening that provides a bit more piece of mind.
At 3.5 pounds and 18 inches tall, it’s a little larger than other bags, so it’s probably best checking it in up front and not taking through security. More than 700 parents have used it and it has a score of 4.5 stars.
“I used this bag to fly alone with my nearly two-year-old and his Britax marathon convertible car seat. I am 5’2″, 120lbs and had no problem carrying the car seat on my back. It held up well through the flights and my car seat fit well and was in perfect condition at the end. I used this both pushing my son in a stroller while pulling carry on as well as carrying him on the front of me in the ergo. I gate checked and had no problem. This was a great purchase. People definitely gave me funny looks seeing this, but everyone, both other passengers and security personnel, was very kind and helpful to us. I would recommend this to anyone flying with a car seat.”
his lightweight bag has numerous carrying handles as well as two padded backpack straps for sherpa-ing it through the airport.
It’s made of puncture resistant, water-proof nylon and designed to keep your car seat germ-free. A pair of drawstring closures and a velcro flap help secure car seats within it and it works with nearly every brand. Once the seat is out it folds into a small carrying pouch. It has a score of 4.6 stars after more than 300 reviewers.
“This was PERFECT!! Backpack style was easy to carry, it was a great size!,” wrote one reviewer. “It held our full size car seat plus booster seat. Clear labeling was wonderful! And the drawstring plus the flap over it made it super easy to use and kept everything protected! It’s a must by when traveling by air!!”
This handy carrier packs up small enough to fit inside your diaper bag, yet will wrap almost any single car seat on the market.
It’s made from lightweight material that is both durable and water-resistant and it’s bright orange color makes it easy to spot on the luggage carousel. Currently, it has an average rating of 4.4 stars from more than 240 reviewers.
“I wouldn’t say that it’s particularly comfortable to wear this thing with a beastly toddler-sized car seat in it, but it gets the job done and frees your hands up for the rest of your luggage and the kid,” wrote one reviewer. “I always check her car seat and the bag does a great job of keeping all of the straps contained and preventing scuffs. It’s not padded so it won’t protect the seat from being crushed or impact. The drawstring on it is kind of long and a bit of a pain, but nothing that can’t be managed.”
One of the best dual action bags we found, the Caboodle will work well when leaving the seat at the check in counter, or at the gate.
It has padded backpack straps, is made from durable water-resistant fabric, and has a sturdy zippered closure. When not in use, it folds up small enough to fit in a diaper bag and will fit almost all sizes of seats.
Wrote one happy reviewer: “This is very durable and got us through a full trip. We were able to fit 2 Graco highback boosters into the bag. I did have to take one of them apart to make them fit. My only complaint is that it didn’t have a plastic window to put name information. It is a bit bulky but it worked great and the material is thick and durable. The straps were comfortable. We will be using it for our next flight.”
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