I read your advice to parents about flying with young children (“Children and Airplanes: Are We Having Fun Yet?” June, p. 33) and am appalled that the author was ambivalent about whether all children should be in their own airplane seats appropriately restrained and that he bought into the FAA’s spurious claim that if parents had to purchase a ticket for their youngest kids, more would drive not fly—and there would be more children injured as a result.
Both of these ideas have been discredited by the National Transportation Safety Board, which is the nation’s watchdog agency over all mass transit. The article lists a number of sources including the FAA website on traveling safely with kids, which makes the point that all children are safer in the event of unexpected turbulence and rough landings if they are in their own seats in approved child restraints.
The biggest problem is a practical one: until recently, the only child restraints approved for kids were regular car seats, which are huge, clumsy, and not appropriate for long security lines, crowded spaces, narrow aisles, etc. But there is an “airplane-only” child restraint, the CARES child aviation restraint, which has been FAA-certified for all phases of flight. It is for kids 22 to 44 pounds from 1 to 5 years of age, weighs one pound, and can be carried in a pocket. (To learn more, check out www.kidsflysafe.com.)
The FAA and the airlines should be ashamed of themselves for not providing an equivalent level of safety to the youngest travelers who, unlike their elders, cannot brace in the event of severe turbulance.
Louise Stoll, Ph.D.
Kids Fly Safe, LLC