CARES- it’s STILL the best invention for kids on the airplane

There’s weekend travel (families) and there’s summer travel (families) and then there’s summer weekend travel (too many families!)  It’s that time of year, people.  School is out and millions of families are traveling.  If you have a child and you haven’t heard of CARES, perhaps now would be a good time to investigate.  It stands for child aviation restraint system. What this means is if your little one is between 22-44 pounds you can ditch the cumbersome car seat.  Pictured on the right is my four year-old, my favorite traveling partner in the world – we were flying to New York last week.  We’ve been using CARES for two years now and it’s STILL the best invention for kids on the airplane.   To find out more, check out this Galley Gossip post I wrote last year.



  1. I agree! I use it for my 2 year old and it is great! We put the car seat on wheels (GoGoBabyz) and check it at the gate so it serves as our stroller/bag carrier through the terminal. Gate checking my car seat makes me feel like I have a better chance of it arriving with us than if I checked it at the ticket counter. (One less place for it to get lost.)
    Having the CARES harness I am comfortable knowing my toddler is safely secured but I don’t have to deal with the huge car seat and her kicking the seat in front of her!

    • FYI: I know Beth well. She’s a flight attendant / super mom! (Beth, if you ever want to review kid products on the plane let me know!)

  2. It’s great that parents have a choice of products but please, please, please NEVER CHECK A CAR SEAT AS LUGGAGE. Even gate-checking a seat is no guarantee. If you need your car seat at your destination, the best option is to bring it on board and *use* it. Not only is this safer than just using the adult seat belt for your child but means your car seat gets to where you’re going.

    I also found that my kids, as well as my many small passengers, slept better and were more comfortable in their own, familiar seat. There have been complaints about the CARES, children not comfortable, sliding down in it, etc.

    The CARES harness is great if you have a reliable car seat waiting at your destination or are headed somewhere that you don’t need one (i.e. a big city or a cruise or resort that’s reached by a shuttle).

    The CARES harness website says to pay for their product, then check the car seat as luggage. That’s just wrong because the airlines lose and break car seat all the time!

    P.S. Save your money on the GogoBabz and just use a metal luggage cart. Works just as well and much cheaper!

    • There aren’t any metal luggage carts INSIDE security – only outside.

      Car seats are a must for little / smaller kids on the plane, but when they’re bigger CARES works wonders. I tried to use CARES when my son first hit 22 pounds and it was a horrible experience. He slid down in his seat like you mentioned. A year later I tried it again (around 2 1/2 / 3 yrs old) it was the best flight ever!

      You CAN rent a car seat if you’re renting a car at your destination, but I know people have issues with the car seats. (I’ve done it a few times)

      Before CARES came into my life, back when my son was younger and smaller, the best invention for kids on the airplane was the SIT-N-STROLL – the rolling car seat / stroller

  3. I used my foldable luggage cart from my first airline. I secured the car seat on to the seat with an extra bungee cord and it did great. The only time I used the big luggage carts was when I checked in and later, to get through customs.

    Definitely better than one of those overpriced Gogo thingies!

    Renting a car from a rental car company isn’t the best idea. I had a bad experience and it wasn’t unusual. They are often dirty, out-of-date, missing parts, etc. Dangerous! They can often run out or have the wrong size (what happened to us). Recommending rental car seats could put a child in danger (not to be overly dramatic but it’s true!)

    Best to bring your own. I just took a car seat for my 5 year old. We were doing a long car ride down the Ca. coast and she wanted her own seat.

    The CARES also has a very short span of usefulness, although I’ve heard that they’re trying to get that extended by the FAA.

    I had one of those SNS’s too. It was great but typical of a “jack of all trades”, it wasn’t the best stroller OR car seat but what a great product when you need both! It’s also the answer to taxis. Great in large cities.

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