CARES Child Aviation Restraint System is designed specifically for aviation use for children age 1 and older who weigh between 22 and 44 pounds. These youngsters are old enough to be in their own seats, but are too small for the seat belt alone to protect them and provide the safety they require during airplane travel. Their bodies cannot withstand the jolts that are common in routine air travel, much less emergency situations, and they flail forward or slide beneath the seat belt if they are not held securely in place.
- CARES is the first and only harness type Aviation Child Safety Device to be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as an alternative to a car seat.
- CARES is an elegantly designed belt-and-buckle device that works in conjunction with the regular airplane seat belt and provides young travelers the same level of safety as a car seat.
- CARES weighs just one pound and fits into a 6″ stuff sack! It is easily portable, simple to install, adjustable to every size airplane seat, and usable on any window or center seat in the airplane, except in the emergency exit rows.
***I removed the recommendation that you check your car seat as luggage as car seat safety technicians will tell you that "If it's checked, it's wrecked" meaning it would need replaced and considered unsafe. Thousands of people do it, but I chose not to.***
I received the CARES (Child Aviation Restraint System) for review and I was so excited to be able to try it out! Hubby, on the other hand, was not convinced. We took the car seat (Graco Argos in case anyone is wondering) with us on the plane as well because we were going to need an actual car seat in Cali during our trip there. As is stated in the name of the product, this is an aviation-certified restraint system. It is not, however, usable in a car. If we had a seat waiting for us in Cali when we landed, we would have probably only used the CARES harness while in flight.
The harness itself can be a little intimidating when you first unwrap it, but the instructions are SUPER easy to follow and very clear and concise.
There is a BRIGHT RED strap that goes around the back of the seat. I think that was my least favorite part of the harness, personally, because it actually takes putting the tray table of the person behind your child down to allow the strap to slip down behind it. I was lucky on the flight when I tested this out that no one was behind the seat I used. The seats were also VERY slick and I had a small amount of trouble getting the strap to stay in place long enough to tighten it. However, I did NOT put the tray table back into its "upright and locked" position before attempting tightening, so that may have contributed to my problem.
Honestly, what I loved the most about the CARES harness is that all of the arm rests are accessible and functional. With the width of most (if not all) car seats versus the width of the standard aircraft seat in all likelihood you will not be able to use the arm rest closest to the car seat.
Given the fact that the FAA actually recommends ALL children be given their own seat and properly restrained (http://www.faa.gov/passengers/fly_children/), it only makes sense to use either their own, familiar car seat OR another device certified for use as a restraint. I actually appreciated having a real harness to strap Fuss in with because she was very well-behaved since she was used to that sensation. We were all buckled during our flights unless we were up to use the restroom. Our longest flight was 5 hours and Fuss was perfectly content with being in her seat during that time.
I admit, I wish we had had a seat waiting for us in Cali as it would have made life much easier! We would have had an easier time boarding/deplaning. We never had a single problem with ANY of the flight attendants or airline employees when taking our seat on board. (I will provide several links showing why this was most likely the case at the end of the post.) Had we had another seat available that I would have trusted with the safety of my child, I would most definitely have used the CARES harness exclusively while we were flying! It doesn't take any longer than it did to put her car seat on the plane. And, like I said, there would have been MUCH more room for the 3 of us to travel. Bonus: She couldn't kick the seat in front of her while in the harness like she could while in her car seat.
As you can see in the picture below, Fuss was thrilled to be sitting in the "big seat" and wearing her harness! (Again, it wasn't perfectly positioned because we were trying to do this quickly while disturbing the fewest number of people. The row behind us was unoccupied with only 1 occupant behind that row, so we went back there to do pics). Since this is good for 22-44 pounds and Fuss is only about 34 pounds right now, we will be able to use this for quite a while to come! ****Be sure to scroll to the bottom!****
As I said before, the FAA strongly recommends ALL children be in their own safety seat while on board. The only problem with that is most people won't purchase another ticket unless required to (which for most airlines is age 3). The airlines don't require it because they are afraid people will stop flying or opt to drive to their destinations instead. Unfortunately that leads to children being ejected from their parent's laps/arms as was the case in the Asiana Airlines flight on July 7. Source
For more information on flight safety, please see the links below.
For all Crunchier by the Day fans, Kids Fly Safe has offered an awesome 20% DISCOUNT with code DAY713.
I hope you all continue to travel and fly safely with your toddlers! :)
From Kids Fly Safe: