If you’re planning on using a car seat during airplane travel then you’ll want to choose a car seat that’s FAA approved.
FAA approved means these seats have been tested and meet certain safety requirements for air travel by the Federal Aviation Administration. Regular car seats do not provide the necessary safety and security to be used on a plane. Most US airlines will only allow FAA approved travel car seats on their planes as these are safe for aircraft travel and are certified to do so.

Before we go into details of different FAA approved car seats, you may be interested in reading all about flying with car seats and what you need to know about car seats. You can also read about how a hand luggage pram can simplify family travel.


buying an extra seat for your child

If you’re planning on flying to another region then you may need to consider other car seats that are approved to fly by the local safety body for example in the UK this is the CAA and TUV. You should always check your specific airline requirements to see what certification they accept for the car seats as these can vary between airlines.

As FAA is the most widely accepted certification for car seats, we’ll take a look at the best travel car seats that are FAA approved. This guide will help you identify the best style of travel car seat for your child as well as ensure their safety during the flight.


baby flying with travel stroller

Tips for Buying a Travel Car Seat

When buying a travel car seat there are some tips you should consider.


  1. Certification

    You should first check that the car seat is safe to travel with and that it has been awarded a safety certification. For flying on most US airlines, the travel car seat will need to be approved by the FAA so always check for this accreditation on the car seat when shopping around. Look for a label on the car seat that reads “certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft”, without this label you won’t be able to use the car seat on board the flight.


    FAA approved car seat certified
  2. Size of Car Seat

    The travel car seat should be the right size to fit in any regular seat on an airplane. This tends to be no wider than 16 inches. If your infant car seat is wider than this then you won’t be able to take it on your flight as the car seat will not fit securely in the airplane seat. Remember to check your specific airline requirements as some may have narrower seats and therefore require a smaller car seat.

  3. Weight of Car Seat

    As well as checking the size of the travel car seat, you should check the car seat’s weight as some airlines have restrictions on how heavy the car seats can be. Remember that you will need to carry the infant car seat on the plane and around the airport with the rest of your luggage so you want to choose something that will be manageable and easy to carry. You’ll want to choose an infant car seat that is lightweight and portable, so perhaps pick something with a carry handle that is easy to transport around.

  4. Ease of Installation

    You’ll want to choose a car seat that’s relatively easy to set up and install. Remember that you’ll need to set up the infant car seat and have it secured via seat belt before your flight and take it down after landing. You might be flying alone and have to manage your child and any additional baggage so you’ll want the car seat to be easy to set up to minimize any stress before and after the flight. Although the airline crew can help, all car seats are set up differently so you’ll need to know the specifics of your seat. Ensure you use the car seat correctly as otherwise, it may not be as safe and secure for the child.

  5. Design

    When choosing between car seats, you should consider the overall design. A slim and compact design will be much easy to travel with than one which is large and bulky.

  6. Child’s Weight and Height

    To ensure your child is safe in one of the car seats, they’ll need to meet the size requirements and weight limits. If your child is too small there could be a risk of them slipping out, or if your child is too large for the seat, they may not be properly secured in it. When shopping for a car seat, check your child’s weight and height against the size guidelines of the car seat. When you go to use the seat, it’s always a safe idea to recheck your child’s measurements to ensure they still fit in the seat and haven’t outgrown it since you last used it.

Baby happily sitting and flying with car seat

Types of Car Seats

When shopping for car seats, you’ll notice there are 3 main styles of car seats sold. We’ll take a look that these types, how they differ, and which you might want to choose.


Rear facing

Rear facing car seats sit or lay your child facing the seat. They have an inbuilt five point harness to secure your child and can be placed on top of a car or airplane seat. A rear facing style of infant car seat must be used over any other type of seat for the first 6 months of the child’s infancy. This is because the seat holds the child and protects them from all sides and is designed for babies who cannot yet hold themselves upright. Usually, a child can use a rear facing seat until they are at least 12 months old but it depends on the size of the child.


Forward facing

Forward facing infant car seats face the front of the car, they are essentially a smaller seat to place on top of the car or airplane seats to fit the small child. These car seats have an inbuilt five point harness to secure the child and can be used as soon as your child can sit upright unsupported. For this reason, a forward facing seat is usually used around the 1-year age mark and can be used until they are around 4 years old.

Children can progress from rear facing infant car seats to a front facing car seats as soon as they can support themselves and their shoulders reach the shoulder markers on the rear facing seat.



A booster seat faces the child to the front of the car. These car seats are designed to lift the child up so they are correctly positioned to reach the cross-body car seat belt. Typically this type of car seat does not have an inbuilt five point harness and will not secure your child on its own. For that reason, a backless booster seat is not FAA approved and will not be allowed for air travel.

Some car seats also act as booster seats and will be approved for travel if they have their own harness and safety features.
Airplane seats use a lap seat belt so children who would usually use a backless booster seat would be safe sitting in their own seat on the airplane.


Flying with a FAA approved car seat on plane

Best travel car seats

Let’s take a look at some of the best FAA approved travel car seats that can help you get from A to point B easier and safer. There are many infant car seats to choose from but we have compiled a list of the best travel car seats. Some of these car seats are more affordable than others, but it is most important to consider the weight and most importantly convenience that the car seat offers especially for air travel. Look for a compact car seat to make it easy for you to transport the car seat.

Donna stroller is also FAA approved car seat

Best travel car seat and stroller system – Doona

The Doona rear facing convertible car seat is the world’s first fully convertible infant car seat as it has a stroller integrated into the seat. This means parents can quickly and easily convert the seat from car seat mode to stroller mode. Simply pop out the legs and wheels for stroller mode or fold them away for car seat mode. This is a unique convertible car seat and is ideal for parents on the go who need to quickly move their child in and out of the car. This infant seat also has a range of safety features to keep your child secure. The Doona car seat is the best car seat for an all-in-one travel car seat and stroller.



  • Weight of seat: 14.3 pounds
  • Harness: Five point harness
  • Orientation: Rear facing only
  • Weight limit: 4 to 35 pounds
  • Height limit: 32 inches
  • Seat dimensions: 17.4W x 22.4L x 26H inches

FAA approved car seat nuna Pipa Lite RX and RELX Base

Best travel infant car seat – Nuna Pipa Lite RX & RELX Base

The Nuna Pipa Lite RX & RELX Base is a lightweight convertible car seat that secures and comforts the baby. The rear facing car seat can quickly be secured in the car for travel with the base and with the latch connector system, can easily be fitted into any car, rental car, or taxis with just a seat belt. The car seat offers an adjustable headrest that provides extra security to perfectly fit your child as they grow. The material is soft and breathable to regulate the baby’s temperature in any weather or season.

This car seat is perfect for parents who need to transport their children around the city and need a lightweight seat to carry them in.



  • Weight of seat: 6.9 pounds
  • Harness: Five point harness
  • Orientation: Rear facing
  • Weight limit: 4 to 32 pounds
  • Height limit: 32 inches
  • Seat dimensions: 17.5W x 27.3L x 23H inches

FAA approved car seat cosco scenera next

Best affordable travel car seat – Cosco Scenera Next

The Cosco Scenera Next convertible car seat is a lightweight and affordable seat that’s easy to carry and install. It can be used in the rear facing or front facing car seat position depending on what your child needs. The three buckle locations ensure the child is secure in the car seat. The compact seat design is perfect for taking to the airport and onboard any flight. This is one of the best car seats to ensure your child is secure whilst still being a lightweight car seat.

This car seat is simple and affordable yet effective. It has side protection for ultimate safety as well as easy-to-clean removable pads. It has a removable cup holder that can be put in the dishwasher.



  • Weight of seat: 6.8 pounds
  • Harness: Five point harness
  • Orientation: Rear or forward facing
  • Weight limit: 5 to 40 pounds
  • Height limit: 43 inches
  • Seat dimensions: 21.25W x 29L x 22.5H inches

FAA approved car seat Evenflo Tribute 5 Convertible Car Seat

Best travel convertible car seat – Evenflo Tribute 5 Convertible Car Seat

The Evenflo Tribute 5 Convertible Car Seat is one of the best car seats. This is a rear and forward facing convertible seat that can be used for car travel and plane travel. The car seat offers a compact design that is ideal for small vehicles and the car seat is lightweight for easy travel. It has complete side impact protection to ensure your child is safe and secure. It’s easy to clean the seat pad and has a removable head pillow when your child outgrows the infant rear facing car seat.

This car seat is affordable and convenient and is a great option for anyone needing a rear facing and forward facing car seat. As it is only designed for children up to 40 pounds it doesn’t adapt when your child grows, but with the affordable price point its easy to purchase a larger one later. This is a great option for any caregivers or family members who may need convertible car seats that can be shared between siblings.



  • Weight of seat: 9.29 pounds
  • Harness: Five point harness
  • Orientation: Rear and forward facing
  • Weight limit: 5 to 40 pounds
  • Height limit: 40 inches
  • Seat dimensions: 18.5W x 19L x 25.5H inches

FAA approved car seat Evenflo Tribute 5 Convertible Car Seat

Best Highback Booster Car Seat – Evenflo Maestro Sport

The Evenflo Maestro Sport 2 in 1 booster car seat converts into a high back booster seat. It’s perfect for older children aged 2 to 4 years to secure them during travel. This forward facing car seat secures the child and protects them. The shoulder straps adjust as your child grows and the cup holder is great for holding their snacks.

This car seat has an adjustable five point harness to fully secure the child and a removable seat pad for easy cleaning. The Evenflo Maestro Sport is the best convertible car seat for older children during travel.



  • Weight of seat: 9.6 pounds
  • Harness: Five point harness
  • Orientation: Forward facing
  • Weight limit: 22 to 110 pounds
  • Height limit: 44 to 57 inches
  • Seat dimensions: 17W x 19L x 27.5H inches

FAA approved car seat WAYB Pico Travel Car Seat

Best Foldable Car Seat – WAYB Pico Travel Car Seat

The WAYB Pico Travel Car Seat is a unique foldable lightweight car seat. The forward facing compact car seat is ideal for children over the age of two to secure them during car and plane travel. The foldable design makes it easy to carry and even store in most airplane overhead bins. This car seat can be used in an unfamiliar car with no problems.

This car seat may be more expensive than other options but it is a versatile option and makes traveling easier.



  • Weight of seat: 8 pounds
  • Harness: Five point harness
  • Orientation: Forward facing
  • Weight limit: 22 to 50 pounds
  • Height limit: 45 inches
  • Seat dimensions: 14.5W x 11.6L x 18.9 inches

Pick Your FAA Approved Car Seat and Jet Off

Whichever car seat you choose for your child, ensure it is FAA approved so it can be used on most major US airlines.
The best travel car seats we have listed are great options as they are all lightweight, designed for travel and are child safe.
When choosing between infant seats, select one that fits your child’s age and dimensions so they are properly secured. It’s a good choice to pick one of these convertible car seats to make travel easier. Most importantly, choose the best travel car seat that meets your travel style.

Remember to check your specific airline’s requirements as they may have different specifications for the travel car seat.
If you’re flying with a baby and have queries about airlines and bassinets, check out our article on airline bassinets and what you need to know about bassinet seat.