| |

The 10 Best FAA-Approved Car Seats for Air Travel

Although bringing a car seat on an airplane might seem cumbersome, using a car seat on board is the safest way for little ones to fly. Fortunately, many of the best convertible car seats and infant car seats are approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for use in flight. Whether you’re looking to buy a sturdy car seat for everyday use or a lightweight model just for travel, we’ve rounded up the 10 best FAA-approved car seats to help with your search.

The Winning Lineup

Best FAA-Approved Car Seats

In order from least to most expensive, here are the 10 best FAA-approved car seats, along with their approximate costs:

Detailed Buying Guide

Best FAA-Approved Car Seats

Read on for all the details you need to know about our 10 favorite FAA-approved child safety seats, including car seat weight, age range, and cleaning instructions, as well as the unique features we love about each model:

Lightest weight: Cosco Scenera NEXT Convertible Car Seat

  • Approximate cost: $60
  • Weight: 10.4 pounds
  • Dimensions: 17.6″ by 15.8″ by 30.3″
  • Child weight range: 5-40 pounds rear-facing, 22-40 pounds forward-facing
  • Fabric care instructions: Machine wash and machine dry
  • Latch compatible?: Yes
  • Recline adjustment?: None
  • Cup holders: One, removable

Because of its light weight and its budget-friendly price tag (the least expensive on our list!), the Cosco Scenera NEXT is a popular travel car seat choice for parents. A lightweight car seat is much easier to carry through the airport and onto the plane, especially when parents have other luggage (and children) to haul with them.

Some drawbacks include a lack of cushy padding, a weight limit of only 40 pounds, and a somewhat tricky installation, but the Scenera is safe, easy to transport, and quick to clean. Read our full review here.

Best ventilation: Evenflo Sonus 65 Convertible Car Seat

  • Approximate cost: $120
  • Weight: 11.5 pounds
  • Dimensions: 15.5″ by 18.5″ by 26″
  • Child weight range: 5-40 pounds rear-facing, 22-65 pounds forward-facing
  • Fabric care instructions: Machine wash and line dry
  • Latch compatible?: Yes
  • Recline adjustment?: 2-position recline
  • Cup holders: Two, not removable

The Evenflo Sonus 65 Convertible Car Seat boasts removable inserts, six harness positions, and two cup holders that detach for easy cleaning. Even though it accommodates kids up to an impressive 65 pounds, it weighs only about a pound more than the competing Cosco Scenera.

In addition to plush padding lining the seating area, the Sonus has a completely ventilated seat back to improve airflow, reducing the temperature and helping to keep children comfortable in the car or on the plane.

Best with sun canopy: Baby Trend Cover Me 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

  • Approximate cost: $135
  • Weight: 19.8 pounds
  • Dimensions: 18.5″ by 18.3″ by 28.6″
  • Child weight range: 4-40 pounds rear-facing, 22-65 forward-facing
  • Fabric care instructions: Machine wash and line dry
  • Latch compatible?: Yes
  • Recline adjustment?: 5-position recline
  • Cup holders: Two, not removable

With the common complaint of sun glare in mind, Baby Trend engineered the Cover Me 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat with a large, retractable sun canopy that has five different height adjustments. The canopy offers UPF 50+ sun protection and even includes flip-out side visors that add targeted shade from bright windows on either side of the seat.

The FAA-approved car seat, which comes in four color choices, doubles as a belt-positioning booster for kids between 40 and 100 pounds. It has an easily adjustable headrest, a no-rethread harness system, and extra padding to keep kids sitting happily on road trips and flights alike.

Best for taller children: Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

  • Approximate cost: $250
  • Weight: 21 pounds
  • Dimensions: 19.3″ by 22.5″ by 25.2″
  • Child weight range: 4-50 pounds rear-facing, 22-65 pounds forward-facing
  • Fabric care instructions: Machine wash and line dry
  • Latch compatible?: Yes
  • Recline adjustment?: 6-position recline
  • Cup holders: Two, not removable

Graco’s popular Extend2Fit 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat ranks at the top of various best-car-seat lists year after year. Its crash test ratings are consistently more impressive than many competitors — an important detail that led us to purchase it as our family’s first convertible car seat three years ago.

The Extend2Fit has desirable comfort features, including padded head protection and an extendable foot rest area that delivers increased leg room for tall children in the rear-facing position. It’s easy to adjust and easy to clean, providing multiple recline positions that let our children lay back for naps without their heads tilting forward uncomfortably. Although too wide to fit three-across in many vehicles, this practical car seat is reasonable in price and isn’t too heavy to carry through the airport for your next flight.

Best chemical-free: Chicco NextFit Max ClearTex FR Chemical Free Convertible Car Seat

  • Approximate cost: $300
  • Weight: 26.5 pounds
  • Dimensions: 31″ by 19″ by 26″
  • Child weight range: 4-50 pounds rear-facing, 22-65 pounds forward-facing
  • Fabric care instructions: Machine wash and line dry
  • Latch compatible?: Yes
  • Recline adjustment?: 9-position recline
  • Cup holders: One, removable

If your child is going to be using their FAA-approved car seat frequently, it’s worth investing in a model with nontoxic materials and finishes. The Chicco NextFit Max ClearTex is the only convertible car seat on our list with Greenguard Gold Certification. Products with the Greenguard Gold stamp are tested for thousands of volatile organic compounds and certified to provide low chemical emissions, creating cleaner air around your baby.

The NextFit Max ClearTex has an impressive nine recline positions, and extendable headrest, and expandable calf support. Its removable, dishwasher-safe cup holder collapses out of the way when space is tight.

Best infant car seat: UPPAbaby Mesa V2 Infant Car Seat

  • Approximate cost: $330
  • Weight: 9.9 pounds
  • Dimensions: 28″ by 17″ by 25″
  • Child weight range: 4-35 pounds (rear facing only)
  • Fabric care instructions: Machine wash and line dry
  • Latch compatible?: Yes
  • Recline adjustment?: None
  • Cup holders: None

UPPAbaby’s Mesa V2 Infant Car Seat, which has also earned Greenguard Gold Certification, weighs less than 10 pounds and is easy to secure into airplane seats with the lap belt. It’s a popular choice for infant car seats because of its stellar safety ratings, premium fabrics, and compatibility with many well-loved strollers including the UPPAbaby Vista and UPPAbaby Minu.

When we had a baby who still fit in the Mesa, there was no easier way to travel than walking through the airport with the seat fastened to our travel stroller and unclipping it from the stroller frame when we arrived at the gate. The Mesa sports a retractable UPF 25+ sun canopy, a no-rethread harness, and an extra-large headrest for safety and comfort. Read our full thoughts on the UPPAbaby Mesa here.

Easiest to clean: Britax Boulevard ClickTight Convertible Car Seat

  • Approximate cost: $350
  • Weight: 29.5 pounds
  • Dimensions: 24″ by 18.5″ by 23.5″
  • Child weight range: 5-40 pounds rear-facing, 20-65 pounds forward-facing
  • Fabric care instructions: Machine wash and machine dry
  • Latch compatible?: Yes
  • Recline adjustment?: 7-position recline
  • Cup holders: None

Although it’s large and heavy, the Britax Boulevard ClickTight Convertible Car Seat is the only seat on our FAA-approved list — other than the Cosco Scenera — with dryer-safe, removable fabrics. This is a major win for busy parents who don’t have time to wait for fabrics to line dry after messy (and smelly) toddler spills.

The Boulevard comes in a variety of color palettes designed without the use of flame-retardant chemicals. Its steel frame and two layers of side impact protection help keep littles ones safe in the event of a collision. Consistent with other models in Britax’s ClickTight line, the Boulevard boasts open and easy-to-access seat belt paths that make installation fuss-free for parents.

Most durable: Diono Radian 3QX All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

  • Approximate cost: $370
  • Weight: 31.3 pounds
  • Dimensions: 28.5″ by 17″ by 16″
  • Child weight range: 4-50 pounds rear-facing, 22-120 pounds forward-facing
  • Fabric care instructions: Machine wash and line dry
  • Latch compatible?: Yes
  • Recline adjustment?: None
  • Cup holders: One, removable

Diono’s Radian line of car seats is known for its slim profiles and the ability to fit three-across in the back seat of most vehicles. Compact dimensions and reassuring safety features like a sturdy steel frame, advanced side-impact protection, and anti-rebound bar to reduce rotation are what led us to purchase the Diono Radian 3QX All-in-One Convertible Car Seat for our daughter when she outgrew the UPPAbaby Mesa.

The 3QX comes in a full lineup of fun, vibrant colors. It sits at a comfortable recline position for babies and toddlers, and it comes with a removable insert and newborn positioning wedge to accommodate the early infant months. We have loved using the 3QX as our everyday car seat, but if you plan on lugging it through the terminal, you’ll want to invest in a car seat bag with wheels due to its heavy weight. Read our complete review of the Radian 3QX here.

Best rotating seat: Graco Turn2Me Rotating Convertible Car Seat

  • Approximate cost: $450
  • Weight: 24 pounds
  • Dimensions: 20.8″ by 19.1″ by 24.4″
  • Child weight range: 4-40 pounds rear-facing, 22-65 pounds forward-facing
  • Fabric care instructions: Machine wash and line dry
  • Latch compatible?: Yes
  • Recline adjustment?: 4-position recline
  • Cup holders: Two, not removable

Any parent who has used a rear-facing car seat knows that it can be difficult to maneuver their babies into and out of the car. The FAA-approved Turn2Me Rotating Convertible Car Seat from Graco solves this problem. When in the rear-facing position, the seat rotates toward the car seat door easily. Once baby is buckled into their seat, the Turn2Me secures back into place with an audible click.

Although it comes with a high price tag, the Turn2Me boasts top-of-the-line safety features like a steel frame and energy absorbing foam throughout. It has large, integrated cup holders, four recline positions to keep kids comfortable, and the ability to convert to a highback booster seat for children up to 100 pounds.

Best with wheels: Doona Infant Car Seat & Stroller

  • Approximate cost: $551
  • Weight: 10 pounds
  • Dimensions: 26″ by 17.3″ by 23.6″ in car seat mode, 32.2″ by 17.3″ by 39″ in stroller mode
  • Child weight range: 4-35 pounds (rear facing only)
  • Fabric care instructions: Machine wash and line dry
  • Latch compatible?: Yes
  • Recline adjustment?: None
  • Cup holders: None

The Doona Infant Car Seat and Stroller is an innovative car seat solution that offers unique convenience for everyday errands and for travel days. The Doona has wheels that fold up underneath the car seat when installed for use in a car or on an airplane. Once the ride is complete, parents can unfold the wheels and magically convert the car seat into a stroller, instead of needing to attach a separate stroller frame.

Weighing only 10 pounds, the Doona has an adjustable push bar that doubles as an anti-rebound bar in the case of a collision. It also has a near-flat ergonomic infant insert and an included vehicle seat protector. The Doona comes in six vivid color schemes.

The Final Verdict: Finding the Best FAA-Approved Car Seat

Best FAA-Approved Car Seats

Whether you’re looking for an infant car seat to stroll through the airport and bring on board, or toddler car seat that has you covered for use at home and on travel days, we hope our list of the best FAA-approved car seats helps you find the right model for your family. For more relevant travel tips, check out our guides for traveling with and without a car seat, our thoughts on getting your baby their own seat on the airplane, and our list of the best car seat travel bags for carrying your child’s seat through the terminal.

*Some links in this post are affiliate links that support us at no extra cost whatsoever to you. Everybody wins! 

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.