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Parents Urged to Use Child Restraint System on Aircraft

Posted on June 16, 2010

Just in time for the summer travel season comes word that parents are advised to use child restraint systems when traveling with children on a plane. Many times parents allow children to sit on their laps on flights. But in case of turbulence or even a sudden stop on the runway, experienced travelers will tell you that bodies go flying, including adult bodies. Anyone not strapped in is likely to violently hit their head on the ceiling of the cabin or fall on the floor.

In issuing this Safety Alert — the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says that parents will not be able to hold onto their children during turbulence and survivable aviation accidents. Deaths have occurred in children under the age of two who were not secured in an airline approved seat. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), in its official guide, says the safest place for young children in turbulence is in an approved child restraint system, not on an adult’s lap. The NTSB is asking the FAA to make the suggestion a requirement which won’t make some parents happy about having to buy an extra seat for their little one. But then again, when the seat belt sign is lighted, how safe in a child restrained by someone’s arms? Not very. As it stands now, the official policy of the airline industry is that children can ride on their parent’s lap if they weigh less than 40 pounds.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says the lax policy for children on planes is not consistent with all other national policies on safe transportation. The AAP recommends a mandatory federal requirement for the appropriate restraint for children on planes. In fact, back in 1996 in a report to the president, the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security said it was inappropriate for infants to be granted less protection than older passengers. The Commission recommended the FAA revise its policy then – 14 years ago! Of course that makes sense, what does not make sense is that it’s taken so long to act.