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Is CARES Harness Necessary?

On most airlines, children can travel in their guardian’s or parent’s lap up to age 2.  This means that no separate seat is purchased for that child.  However, the caretaker has to meet an age requirement and can only take care of one child at a time.  Seats would have to be secured for any additional infants.  That second infant would then have to be secured in the seat.

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Photo by Jessica West, past Rentcares.com customer

Most airlines do offer the choice of purchasing a seat for your infant as long as you have the proper child restraint device.  This could be either a car seat or a CARES harness.

When you already have your hands full with one in your lap, do you really want the hassle of dealing with a full car seat for your other child?  CARES harnesses fit neatly in a small bag, are light, and take a lot of the stress out of taking a trip, especially when dealing with multiple kids.

Using CARES is as Easy as Loop, Feed and Clip

Looping the CARES over the back of the seat and securing requires lowering the tray table on the back of the seat.  As such, this is more easily and quickly accomplished if you board early.  Take advantage of the opportunity for priority boarding because you are traveling with young children.  It will not only make getting the CARES installed easier, it will also allow your young one to get acclimated to the surroundings and the feel of the CARES over the shoulders and around the lap.

It is suggested that once the passenger behind your child arrives and takes their seat, you let them know that you have installed the CARES and assure them that it will have no impact on their ability to use their tray table.  This will likely avoid any issues with these passengers getting concerned and alerting a steward or stewardess, which would then require additional discussions and explanations.  Should this nevertheless happen, please be reminded that the CARES is equipped with labels clearly identifying the product as FAA approved, which should defuse any such situations.  Additionally, a short explanation and demonstration of how the product works and how it really has no impact on the usability of the tray table of the passengers behind should also go a long way in bringing such an exchange to a swift end.

The use of the CARES harness should be limited to window and center seats, much as the use of a car seat.  However, unlike a car seat, the CARES harness fits neatly into a small bag until you need to take it out to install it on one of these window or center seats.  No bruises to the shins, no pulled muscles wrestling the car seat into position.  A quick loop and tighten and the CARES is ready for use.

CARES is FAA-Approved

CARES is an easy over-the-seat solution that takes just seconds to install, which converts the standard lap belt to a harness.

According to the company website, “CARES is certified by the FAA for use on all U.S. registered airlines. Occasionally, we come across airline personnel who are not familiar with it so it is helpful to point out the “FAA APPROVED” printed on the label. You may also want to carry a copy of “Child Safety on Airplanes” printed off the FAA website or downloaded from the Kids Fly Safe website under In-Flight Documents http://kidsflysafe.com/instructions/in-flight-documents/.

Many countries follow the same or adapt regulations based on the FAA regulations. However, the FAA regulations only apply to those airlines under it’s jurisdiction, i.e. U.S. based air carriers. In the U.S., no air carrier is permitted to deny the use of an approved CRS if a parent has purchased a separate seat for the child.   In other countries it’s a little different. Regulatory authorities around the world have approved the use of AmSafe CARES restraint. However, CARES is considered “carry-on” equipment (same as car seats) and is not really regulated by aviation authorities. Each airline may set their own rules based on staff training and aircraft type. Most airlines specify that if a parent wishes to use a child restraint system (CRS) they may do so, provided the CRS meets certain standards. Usually standards approved are based on Motor Vehicle safety standards (for car seats) AND/OR standards approved for Aviation use by a regulatory agency such as FAA, TC (Transport Canada) or CAA (UK Civil Aviation Authority). In some cases the airlines specify, by name, which CRS’ are approved for use. We always recommend that travelers check the website or contact the airline regarding the use of a CRS on a particular aircraft.”

According to the FAA, CARES harnesses are intended for children between 22 and 44 pounds (10 and 20 kilograms) in a forward-facing seat.  This would generally be children between one and four years old.