Infant Car Seats on board aircraft

Discussion in 'Travel Insider Tips' started by neil_gardner, Apr 24, 2006.

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  1. neil_gardner

    neil_gardner Intern

    Nov 26, 2004
    78
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    shanghai, PRC
    We recently flew with JetStar up to Cairns. As we were cashing in some BA points, we decided to really push the boat out and get Master G (18 mths old) his own seat. For those that don't know, this means fixing his car seat into the aircraft seat with the lap belt and then another bracing strap to the base of the seat (over the top of the headrest).

    So, all well and good on the way out. :D Melbourne ground staff fitted the seat in 29A - we sat in 29B,C. Row 30 was the last row of the A320 and didn't have a window - so a low demand seat which was important as the seat was actually un-usable due to the bracing strap position restricting footwell space and table usage. They had to lie on the floor in the footspace of seat 30A to secure the strap but no big deal.

    Coming back was a different experience. First of all, the JQ flight staff fitted the seat. They put us in 30A,B,C, with Master G in 30C. The reason for this was because of the short bullkhead screen behind 30C allowed them easy access to the base of the seat (as 30A,B,C were the last row and didn't recline, there was little or so space between the seat backs and the screen). It took them a long time to figure out how the bracing strap worked and didn't inspire me with confidence :( - they said that the cabin manager would come along before push-back to check they had installed correctly. She just happened to be one of JQ's senior FA trainer's - which was making them all nervous. :shock:

    So we duly squeezed past the car seat into our seats 30A,B - windowless of course. I immediately realised that in the event of an evacuation, our escape was impeded by the car seat. I flagged this to the flight staff. "We put the seat there because it was easiest". Hmm. :x I asked whether there were guidelines around where the seat should be installed. "None that I recall" came the reply.

    The FA then told me she was doing her annual review exam that week and there is always a question about infants / car seats on there. She was glad that she would have some practical knowledge of how it all works as they get less than 1 car seat per year on board.

    The cabin manager came down to check as we were taxi-ing to take off. She told us "I have to confirm that it was your decision to be sat with the car seat blocking your escape". :evil: I pointed out that the FA's sat us in these seats and that I had indeed raised my concerns to them but it had fallen on deaf ears. :x :x Unfortunately, it was too late and so we had to sit in this configuration until after take off. She went behind the curtain at the rear of the aircraft and tore a strip off the FA's :shock:

    She then came back, after the seat belt sign had been extinguished and asked us to move the car seat to 30A. She kept apologising whilst the FA had squeezed into the space to attach the strap (the plane was full so they couldn't sit us anywhere else). The FA kept saying "I've never been shown how to do this!" and "This wasn't part of our training". Luckily the Cabin Manager was a trainer and knew the exact process.

    I guess in summary, it was fantastic to have him in his own seat rather than on our laps for the 4 hours - he ended up sleeping for 2.5 hours which he never does on our lap. But make sure that if you fly on JQ and want to take a car seat, that they put the car seat in the window seat - that is the law. I believe there is a minimum legal space required for access and the pitch already minimises this. This situation happens so rarely for the flight staff that I doubt many of them know the process.

    Not sure if flying QF would have been any different - as it appears not many people take their own car seat and buy their infant a ticket. Does anyone else have any experience like this.

    Also, do you tihnk it is possible to install a car seat into a Skybed seat (I don't think that there is anywhere to attach the bracing strap to?)

    Thanks
     

  2. NM

    NM
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    Aug 27, 2004
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    Not sure about jetstar, but Qantas are very specific about the use of child seats in their aircraft. You MUST pre-arrange the use of an approved car restraint (must have the appropriate AS sticker on it) and it is installed by "engineering" before boarding. This cannot be arranged at the airport - must be done at least the day before travel. It always goes in a window seat or in the middle seat of a two-aisle aircraft.

    If you look on the QF web site seat maps they show the Infant Seating positions with an "IS" indicator. And yes they can be installed on Skybeds, such as 26K on a 744.

    Note that all airlines seem to require that the seats meet their own country's design standards. So that makes it very difficult to travel overseas with a car seat. For example, AA will not permit the use of child car seat that does not have the current American design standard sicker on it - having an AS sticker (Australian Standards) is not good enough for them. Similarly QF will not permit an US seat because it will not have the necessary AS sticker.
     
  3. neil_gardner

    neil_gardner Intern

    Nov 26, 2004
    78
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    shanghai, PRC
    Thanks NM. Had pre-arranged it but.....

    Good call on the Internationals...I was plannig to fly to HK qith QF and back with CX. Maybe CX won't accept the car seat?

    Any knowledge of the minimum age for an infant to occupy their own seat without a car seat? If we don't have the car seat, they may get shirty about the usefulness of the seatbelt on one so small!

    We thought that we could sit him on the knee for take off, landing, turbulence etc then lie him down on his own seat to sleep afterwards.
     
  4. NM

    NM
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    Not sufre of CX policy, so best to check first. I did check with AA and for them it must be US approved, so no Aussie car seats allowed.
    Mini NM#4 had her own seat when she was 13 months old for a PER-SYD-BNE flight. For take-off and landing she was on mums lap with the usual infant seatbelt thingy attached to Mrs NM's seatbelt. But once the seatbelt sign was off she was off the lap and into her own seat. No problems at all by the cabin crew.

    On the outbound BNE-ADL-PER flight they had 2 x business class seats between Mrs NM and Mini#2 (11 years old) and Mini#4 (13 months old). There was a spare seat across the aisle so Mini#2 moved to his own row and Mini#4 had her own seat. For the return flights they had 3 x Y seats booked.
     
  5. neil_gardner

    neil_gardner Intern

    Nov 26, 2004
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    shanghai, PRC
     
  6. Philip76

    Philip76 Junior Member

    Jun 6, 2006
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    #6 Philip76, Jun 6, 2006
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2006
    This is brilliant timing because I've just booked Virgin from MEL-HBA and Jetstar back again for a day trip in August. Bargain prices.

    Our two-year-old has her own ticket and we want to take her car seat with us. Jetstar confirmed for me on the phone that we are allowed to use the seat in the aircraft for her to sit in.

    Virgin Blue, however, told me we can't take the seat in the plane, we have to check it in as baggage. I have emailed them to ask if that is really true as Jetstar (and now Qantas, I see) allow the seats to be used.

    Does anyone have experience with Virgin Blue in this area and should I be ringing certain numbers to arrange this? I have about 6 weeks to get it sorted!
     
  7. markis10

    markis10 Veteran Member

    Nov 25, 2004
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  8. oz_mark

    oz_mark Enthusiast

    Jun 30, 2002
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    According to the web site, this can't be done:

    http://www.virginblue.com.au/helpInfo/travelInfo/duringYourFlight/index.php?section=Tips+for+Travelling+with+Infants

     
  9. jettgirl

    jettgirl Newbie

    Jun 14, 2006
    6
    1
    neil_gardner: i am a jetstar flight attendant and am appalled that you were in that situation with the infant car seat on one of our flights. Unfortunatley, without bringing down my collegues too much (we are actually quite smart hehe) there are always some people in every job who do not know what they are doing, that crewmember you dealt with was obviously not the brightest crayon in the box. New Crew are trained extensively in every facet of aircraft safety, standard operating procedures and emergency training. They all practice, one on one in ground school in fitting a childs car seat and i clearly remember it being drilled into me many times about blocking exits or impeding the path of passengers with objects, one of them being a child seat. it really is commonsense.
    I am glad that there are people like you out there flying who have the commonsense to think of such things as being blocked in an evacuation etc, most people dont - and it really is genuinely nice to have such passengers onboard. Any crew i fly with would most certainly of picked up the issue immediatly and fitted the car seat to the Alpha seat. The Car seat could even of been fit to any other window seat, providing the person sitting behind them didnt mind not having an unuseable tray table.. keep this in mind in the future, as if you are travelling in a group and someone was willing to sit in the seat behind, it is completley possible for someone to occupy the seat directly behind a fitted carseat, it would just be the tray table that didnt work - the car seat attachments sort of attach to the side of the legs of the chair so there wouldnt be any other legroom problems really at all.
    Our procedures in this matter are in line with the entire Qantas Group procedures, i am not sure about Virgin's Policy, but i have lots of friends who fly with them as crew and will find out - most likely it is to enable a quicker turnaround on the ground, as fitting child seats require the pax to preboard and be fitted, plus, as someone else mentioned, the seat has to be approved to a certain standard at check in and again by the crew.
    I myself dont have children but i would definately purchase a seat for them and provide my own approved car seat, statistics have proven that infant belts probably only protect the infant from turbulence and stop them from flying forward, but the adults weight could easily crush them, and if the belt isnt secure enough, they would probably fly out the top or through the bottom anyway.
    Obviously having the Trainer/Checker onboard was a godsend, and she probably put the fear of god into that flight attendant for making such a stupid mistake, however bringing it to the company's attention wouldnt be a bad thing, as it will only result in more emphasis being put on issues such as this and ensuring that crew are aware of procedure before being 'checked' and coming out online in the cabin and operating as a flight attendant.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Philip76

    Philip76 Junior Member

    Jun 6, 2006
    22
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    I received a reply from Virgin Blue, stating that their aircraft do not have approved mounting points for the top tether straps of child restraints and consequently CASA does not allow child restraints to be used on board. I will ask next if the airline has plans to install mounting points and have their planes approved for the use of child restraints. If Qantas and Jetstar can do it, I don't expect it is impossibly expensive.

    I read the CASA rules on child restraints and they do not require the child restraint to be in a window seat, but it is only allowed to block access to the seats of the child's parents or carers - not other passengers' seats.

    It certainly seems that CASA encourages the use of child restraints in all aircraft in Australia, and even goes to the extent of allowing the use of American-approved seats. ATSB research also supports the use of child restraints. I doubt that Virgin Blue could go much longer without improving its safety offering for young children and infants. I'll certainly have to stick with the other two airlines in future if Virgin Blue doesn't lift its game.
     
  11. jettgirl

    jettgirl Newbie

    Jun 14, 2006
    6
    1
    its as simple as having a car seat attachment pack loaded onto each aircraft and kept as part of the aircrafts emergency equipment. I agree, it is a shame as it is proven that car seats are most definatley safer than infants on laps or tiny infants in their own seat with just a lap belt.
     
  12. Philip76

    Philip76 Junior Member

    Jun 6, 2006
    22
    0
    Hey Jettgirl, you won't be on JQ50 from HBA to MEL on the 5th of August will you? You can say hello and help us with our seat!
     
  13. jettgirl

    jettgirl Newbie

    Jun 14, 2006
    6
    1
    i dont know unfortunatley as i have not yet received my august roster.. otherwise i would :)
     
  14. Philip76

    Philip76 Junior Member

    Jun 6, 2006
    22
    0
    I have just received a reply from CASA after my enquiry on their web side about Virgin Blue's position.

    They told me that Virgin Blue would need to do a detailed investigation to determine which types of car seats could be used. Their investigation would need to cover car seat types, strengths, attachment methods, compatibility with aircraft seats, fire resistance and various other parameters I would have thought had already been covered by other airlines and regulators before the practice was allowed at all.

    They said that without doing that research work the airline could not permit the use of car seats in its planes. And CASA understands that Virgin Blue does not currently plan to do the work.

    Which means my future trips with our children, before they are big enough to be restrained by an adult lap belt, will be with Qantas and Jetstar. Let's hope our flight on 5 August doesn't involve any severe turbulence that would bring this issue out in the media.
     
  15. neil_gardner

    neil_gardner Intern

    Nov 26, 2004
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    shanghai, PRC
    ;)
    We aim to please....this is a service industry after all :) ;)

    As far as I am concenred, I would rather pay the extra money and strap the little guy in than have him run aorund the aricraft for 4 hours.

    A little OT but ....We are off to live in Shanghai next week (am the Pier lounge in HKG at mom) and keep trying to find night flights so that he can sleep....but why do airlines all leave and arrive at the same time. Both BA and VS have their flights to LHR leaving within 5 minutes of each other...you think one would have the intelligence/balls to have their flights leave at different times of the day to thier competitors....its just plain silly
     
  16. NM

    NM
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    Its partly to do with the times that are best suited to people's business travel needs. And partly to do with practical things like airport curfews. For flights HKG-LHR, there is not much room in the window for flight scheduling for suitable arrival times into LHR. Most demand for the higher fare paying passengers (people on business travel) seems to be for an evening departure from Hong Kong. There are two reasons for this:
    1. Ability to complete a day's work and then head to the airport
    2. Ability to make connections from other places in the region
    But if you depart too early in the evening you will arrive too early into LHR and hit the curfew. Hence the earliest evening departure seems to be BA's 11:15pm departure which arrives into LHR at 5:05am.

    CX has the most flights each day on that route and they have a morning option (departs 9:40am and arrives LHR at 3:55pm) and an afternoon option (departs 2:50pm and arrives LHR at 9:05pm). Both these are operated by A340-300 aircraft, which CX keeps their higher capacity 747-400 flights for the two night departures.

    The morning and afternoon departures may be good for leisure travellers, but they are not business-friendly and its the business travellers that pay the higher yield fares.

    So we see that we have a curfew window for departures after about 3pm and before 11pm from HKG to LHR. And people don't want to depart in the middle of the night. Hence why each airline has flights departing around the same time soon after 11pm, being:
    • BA26, departs 11:15pm, arrives 5:05am
    • VS21, departs 11:25pm, arrives 5:25am
    • BA32, departs 11:40pm, arrives 5:35am
    • CX251, departs 11:55pm, arrives 5:45am
    • BA28, departs 12:35am, arrives 6:35am
    • CX255, departs 12:35am, arrives 6:20am
    all these BA and CX flights are operated by 744 and the VS flight is an A340-600. So there is obviously lots of capacity demand for the evening departure.

    QF29 is a morning departure, but it has a lot of through traffic MEL-LHR so the feed is from an evening departure from MEL.
     
  17. neil_gardner

    neil_gardner Intern

    Nov 26, 2004
    78
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    shanghai, PRC
    THats what I thought, but what is surprising is that most flights from Shanghai to/from Europe and the UK leave at lunchtime, landing around late afternoon into Europe.

    The only night flight with connections to Manchester was with Air France (not much good for my points) and Lufthansa (connections not great). Maybe CDG doesn't have a curfew like the other major airports.

    Oh well, fernegen it is.
     
  18. NM

    NM
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    Personally I would prefer those afternoon follow the sun westbound flights. But they are not overly business-friendly.

    Part of the problem with PVG-Europe (including London) is that being a 12 hour flight time, an early morning arrival into somewhere like LHR (say 6am) would require a PVG departure of around 1am. And in order to support that departure time, the aircraft will be sitting on the tarmac at PVG for an extra 12 hours which is poor utilisation of an expensive resource.

    So if avoiding arrivals between say 10pm and 6am (typical curfew times and also unpopular, unfriendly times even at ports with no curfew), the departure window closes around 4pm from PVG.

    So I expect the airlines just want to turn the aircraft around at the remote port such as PVG and make the daytime trip back home. So the current schedules are likely due to aircraft utilisation and slot availability at places like LHR for airlines like BA and VS.
     
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