The Bottom Line
- Easy to use.
- Fits easily in a carry-on bag.
- Keeps toddlers safer than an airline lap belt alone.
- At $75, it is somewhat expensive for infrequent travelers.
- If you'll need a car seat at your destination, you may still need to carry one to the airport.
- Child aviation harness for children over one year of age.
- Works for toddlers and children weighing 22-44 pounds.
- Secures easily to the airplane seat to form a 5-point harness.
- Lightweight and compact when not in use.
- FAA approved for use during any part of your flight.
Guide Review - CARES Airplane Harness for Toddlers
Using the CARES airplane harness is very easy. You just have to slide the large belt around the airplane seat, loop the ends through the airplane seat belt, and then buckle your child and tighten all of the harness pieces. It doesn't take long to have a toddler buckled and ready to go with the CARES harness. There is one style of airplane seat that does not work well with the CARES harness, because the harness wrapping around the seatback doesn't allow the tray table behind the child to be put up for takeoff and landing. I've only found this to be a problem on one airline that I fly regularly. It's a good idea to do some research into the type of plane you'll be on to make sure that your child can be properly restrained.
I used this harness with my child when I traveled to locations where I knew that a good car seat was waiting for my child on the other end. I, personally, am not comfortable checking my child's car seat as luggage in many situations, because the rough treatment can cause damage to the car seat shell, which can affect the safety of the car seat in a crash. I would urge parents who want to check car seats as luggage to also invest in a sturdy padded car seat bag to give the car seat some added protection against rough handling. Another option, if possible, is to have someone at your destination purchase an inexpensive car seat or booster that is appropriate for your child.
Another important safety note is that the CARES harness is not approved for use in any vehicle other than an airplane. Do not use this product in a car as a replacement for a suitable car seat.
Overall, I think the CARES harness is a well-designed product that can be very useful for parents, especially those who travel often with a toddler and want to streamline their on-board gear.