If you’re flying on British Airways with a baby, you might decide that you want to bring a car seat with you to pop in their aircraft seat.
However, simply bringing a car seat along without checking ahead on the approved car seat dimensions and rules specific to BA isn’t advisable.
In this BA Car Seats guide, we’ve prepared all the information you’ll need to know when you’re flying with BA, so you’re prepared well in advance, as well as plenty of tips to help you decide on the best course of action when travelling with your little one.
- British Airways Car Seat Policy
- Padded Car Seat Bags
- 5 Padded Child Seat Bag Options
- Are There Any Alternatives To Gate Check Bags?
- Final Thoughts
British Airways Car Seat Policy
Every airline has its specific policy on car seats; today, we’re looking specifically at BA’s. According to the BA website, as long as a car seat fits the following parameters, then it can be used on their flights:
The age/weight of the child is in bye manufacturer’s instructions.
- The width of the car seat is 43cm (17 inches) to ensure it fits in the aircraft seat.
- The child in the car seat must face the same direction as the aircraft seat to which it is secured.
- The aircraft seat belt buckle must not lie over any part of the frame or under the structure of the car seat after tightening.
- The frame of the car seat must be metal or plastic/polycarbonate material.
- The car seat harness must secure the lap, torso and lower body but does not need to have five individual straps.
The second point of this policy means that rear-facing child seats aren’t permitted on BA flights when the seatbelt sign is on or during taxi, take-off and landing.
Furthermore, only child seats that come in one piece are permitted; any two-part car seats that can split into a separate base and back piece aren’t permitted.
You can’t use car seats on, before, or after an emergency exit row and should ideally be positioned in a window seat, so make sure to select seats that fit these parameters when you’re booking your flight.
Are Any Other Alternatives Permitted?
BA permits a child restraint system harness if you don’t want to lug a full car seat through the airport.
This handy bit of kit is an extension seat belt consisting of a series of straps that connect to your infant’s seat and a lap belt that will hold them in place without the need for a bulky booster seat.
Once again, this alternative can’t be used in the rows before or after an emergency exit or on the row emergency aircraft door itself, so be sure to check the seat map when booking your flights. They’re also not permitted in premium economy, business class and first class.
You can reserve an official BA child seat if you don’t want to purchase either of these. The British Airways child seats can be adjusted to a variety of reclined positions and are available on all long-haul flights except London City to JFK. They’re also the only seat that is allowed in BA’s Club Suite class.
Your child must weigh less than 12.5kg for this option, and they are not permitted during turbulence or when the ‘fasten seatbelt’ sign is on, taxi, take-off and landing.
Be aware that if you pay for a separate seat for your infant, they will need to sit in an adult’s lap during taxi, take off, and when the fasten seatbelt sign is on. A member of British Airways staff on your flight will provide you with an extension seatbelt to accommodate both of you.
Can I Take My Car Seat As Free Baggage?
Your baby has the same hand baggage allowance as you included in their child fare, so while you’ll need to carry it for them, you can bring your car seat on as free luggage.
As well as this, you’re permitted to take no more than two of the following items:
- Fully collapsible pushchair/stroller
- Travel cot (see our recommendations here)
- Backpack baby carrier
Padded Car Seat Bags
Now, if you decide to check your booster seat in rather than take it as hand luggage, it’s smart to consider taking it in a padded car seat bag.
We’ve all had bad experiences or heard of friends’ run-ins with rough baggage handlers, and though your booster seat might seem like a robust bit of kit, the last thing you need is to be reunited with an unusable seat and have to take time out of your trip to purchase a new one.
A few extra pennies spent on a booster seat bag can give you peace of mind and ensure the safe transit of your child’s seat.
Why Should I Get A Padded Car Seat Bag?
Of course, it might be tempting just to take a sturdy, oversized bag to transport your booster seat. While this may be cheaper, they aren’t custom designed to store and protect your car seat, nor do they have any padding to protect them from unprofessional baggage handlers.
Lots of options also come with extra storage pockets for you to keep nappies, small toys for in-flight entertainment, baby milk, tinned baby food or other baby essentials for convenient access.
5 Padded Child Seat Bag Options
Below we’ve prepared a list of some of the best-padded child seat bags for booster seat travel on your British Airways flight.
Luxja Car Seat Padded Airplane Travel Bag
This option’s heavy-duty, lightweight nylon fabric is tear and water-resistant. The stitching is resilient, and you can tell at a glance that it’s made to endure all the variables of long-haul flying.
Thick padding layers are sandwiched between the tough nylon fabric providing necessary protection to your booster seat, including on the bottom, which is important to protect the underside of the seat.
Two mesh pockets at the side allow for convenient storage and can be used for carrying baby milk or other essentials, and the backstraps allow for easy transport, essentially turning into a standard backpack.
Huckaboo Car Seat Travel Bag
This backpack-style bag is made of tough fabric that will last for years, meaning you’ll never need a new one for as long as your baby is in a car seat. It’s equipped with a water-resistant non-rip material made from ballistic nylon and with reinforced stitching.
It’s also really well priced so a great option for parents on a budget.
The bag has extra space to store baby essentials, and the dimensions are suitable for all compliant car seats. However, it’s still important to check ahead that your car seat is within the maximum dimensions before air travel.
Yoofan Gate Check Travel Bag
Another low-budget car seat travel bag is this one from Yoofan, which is really popular among parents.
It has a large capacity and is suitable for most car seat models — of course, make sure you check compatibility and what your airline carrier allows.
It’s made from a super strong fabric and is rip resistant, waterproof and dustproof. And like the Huckaboo above, it’s a backpack style that allows you to carry the car seat hands-free — absolutely essential in an airport with toddlers!
Zohzo Car Seat Travel Bag
Available in blue grey with blue trim or purple with black trim, this bag is as tough as it is cute and made with heavy-duty, water-resistant material with a lockable double zip and padded interior for peace of mind.
It’s big enough to fit most car seats, but as always, it’s wise to check car seat dimensions to ensure it’s the right fit for you.
It can be worn comfortably as a backpack to keep your hands free for keeping an eye on your kids or handing over passports and boarding passes, or carry it with the useful built-in rubber-moulded handle.
iSafe Universal Car Seat Travel Bag
iSafe are a well-renowned car seat manufacturer so it’s great to see they’ve also created a heavy duty car seat travel bag too.
It is a universal bag so don’t think you can only use it with an iSafe seat. It’s also very hard-wearing, waterproof and rip resistant — just what you need when it’s travelling through the baggage carousel. The zip and fastener is similarly well made.
This bag comes with an adjustable shoulder strap which may or may not agree with you.
Are There Any Alternatives To Gate Check Bags?
If you don’t want to fork out the money for a padded bag, there are alternatives. You can choose from several unpadded bags that will save you money, though they won’t hold up nearly as well to any potentially rough treatment from ground staff.
Most airports offer to wrap your baggage at a small fee, or you can wrap your car seat in bubble wrap.
Are car seats the same in every country?
No, and glad you asked. Car seats that are approved for use in the UK and EU are approved in those territories only. This means that they aren’t permitted in Canada, the USA and Australia. Always check ahead to ensure that your car seat can be used at your final destination; a comprehensive breakdown of various countries’ car seat laws can be found here.
What is gate checking?
Gate checking isn’t as confusing as you might think. Where checked baggage is usually handed over at the check-in desk, gate checked baggage is checked in at the departure gate.
Get checking is great if you’re travelling with a fully collapsible pushchair as it means you can wheel your little one on your entire journey through the airport before dropping it off moments before you get on the plane.
Should I gate-check my car seat?
If you’re not planning on using your seat on the flight, then you can just check it in with your luggage, but gate checking skips out a lot of the contact it may come into with ground staff as it will leave your hands and go straight on the plane, eliminating any potential wear that may occur at the airport.
Remember, if you do gate check your bag, you’ll collect it at the runway at your destination and not at the baggage carousel.
If you do decide to check your seat in at the departure desk, we recommend a padded travel bag to reduce the risk of damage while it’s out of your control.
You’re now equipped with everything you need to know for travelling with your infant on your upcoming British Airways flight. Travelling with an infant naturally adds complications to everything you do; luckily, it’s the sort of thing British Airways handles hundreds, if not thousands, of times a day, so try not to worry.
Travelling with a child can be daunting, but now that you’re prepared for the ins and outs of navigating the airport, there’s nothing to get in the way of you making some magical memories with your little one!
Head over to our advice section for more tips on travelling with a baby or toddler!