Skip to Content

9 Best Car Seats and Boosters for Air Travel

Share this!:

I’ve been on over 200 flights with my kids, and there is one question I still always have trouble answering before a flight: what car seat or booster should I bring? My travel priority the last decade plus has always been to transport my kids safely, but I know doing do can sometimes be a major pain! Car seats and boosters are awkward, bulky, and add a lot of logistics to air travel.

Car Seats and Boosters for Air Travel with Kids

I’ve written a pretty comprehensive guide to common questions about car seats and air travel. But sometimes you can solve some of those problems simply by investing in the right travel gear in the first place. Quite a few new car seat and booster products have come onto the market the last few years. Products are more compact and designs are more innovative. Taking a car seat on a plane and being able to use it at your destination grows ever easier. It’s about time!

So, what are all these must-have innovative products that are revolutionizing family air travel? If you are planning to fly with a baby, toddler, preschooler or older child, this guide has car seat and booster recommendations for every age and stage. Note that not all of the products in this guide can actually be used on planes. Instead, they are child restraint devices for use in getting to and from the airport in cars that are also small enough to bring with you successfully during air travel. So check the specs carefully to make sure you buy the product that makes sense for your travel needs.

(Trips With Tykes uses affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission if you purchase through links in this post. See our full disclosure policy linked in the menu at the bottom of this site.)

Best Car Seats for Air Travel for Infants

Chicco Keyfit 30

Car Seats International Travel - Baby in Infant Car Seat

For infants, the classic bucket-style car seat is ideal for airplanes. The Chicco Keyfit 30 is a reasonably priced option that also works for everyday use, so there’s no need to buy a special additional product for travel. It can be used on the plane if you’ve purchased a seat for your baby. It’s also lightweight enough to carry down an airplane aisle, even with a baby in it. Then it can be used in a car at your destination without the base, by installing it with a regular seat belt.

We used a Chicco Keyfit 30 on planes with both of our kids when they were babies very successfully. We combined it with a lightweight stroller frame that we gate checked so we could easily push the baby in the car seat through the airport.

Important Specs for the Chicco Keyfit 30

  • Recommended Age: newborn, infant (use weight/height limits as guide)
  • Weight Limits: 4-30 pounds
  • Height Limits: Up to 30 inches tall
  • Dimensions of Seat: 27.5″ x 17″ x 24″
  • Weight to Carry: 9.6 pounds
  • FAA approved for use on a plane?: Yes
  • Fits in an overhead bin of a plane?: No


Doona Infant Car Seat Stroller

The Doona came onto the market just a bit too late for me to use it with my younger child, but it has been pretty game-changing for parents of babies on the go. The Doona is the first product of its kind that is both infant car seat and stroller in one. The stroller wheels pop back and fold up under the seat, turning the product into a bucket style infant car seat. This product works so well for travelers who are going to be in and out of cars and then who need a stroller when they arrive at their destination. It can also be used on the plane, so it has a lot of versatility.

With a list price of $550, the Doona is an expensive product. As a result, it probably only makes sense for frequent travelers or for city-dwellers who would use it a lot for taking ridesharing services or taxis.

Important Specs for the Doona

  • Recommended Age: 0-18 months
  • Weight Limits: 4-35 pounds
  • Height Limits: Up to 32 inches tall
  • Dimensions of Seat: 28.5 x 18.3 x 16 folded (40 x 17.3 x 32.3 inches unfolded in stroller mode)
  • Weight to Carry: 16.5 pounds
  • FAA approved for use on a plane?: Yes
  • Fits in an overhead bin of a plane?: No

Best Car Seats for Air Travel for Toddlers & Preschoolers

Cosco Scenera NEXT

Cosco Scenera NEXT Review Square

Taking a convertible car seat on a plane is one of my least favorite things about flying with kids. They are big and bulky but oh-so-necessary. So going compact and light is essential. One of the most lightweight convertible car seats on the market is the Cosco Scenera NEXT. Luckily, it’s also one of the cheapest on the market too (it’s sold only at Walmart and costs about $49-59 depending on color).

The Cosco Scenera NEXT was my go to airplane car seat during the toddler and preschooler travel years (see my full Cosco Scenera NEXT review). We flew with this car seat with our son after he graduated from the infant bucket seat until he was ready to graduate to a booster. It’s lightweight enough to balance on top of a roller bag or carry down an airplane aisle. We also loved that if and when we did choose to check it (instead of using it on board), it was cheap enough that we could afford to replace it if an airline damaged it. And when we weren’t traveling, the seat worked well as an extra for grandma’s car or anywhere else we needed one!

The Cosco Scenera NEXT is approved for infant use as well, so you can definitely start using it earlier. We found though that using the bucket-style seat with a stroller frame was easier than dragging a convertible car seat and a separate stroller through airports for a baby.

Important Specs for the Cosco Scenera NEXT

  • Recommended Age: 0- 4 or 5 years old (use height & weight limits)
  • Weight Limits: 5-40 pounds
  • Height Limits:  Up to 19-40 inches tall rear-facing, 29-43 inches forward-facing
  • Dimensions of Seat: 17.63 x 15.75 x 30.25 in
  • Weight to Carry: 10.4 pounds
  • FAA approved for use on a plane?: Yes
  • Fits in an overhead bin of a plane?: No

WAYB Pico Car Seat

WAYB Pico - Car Seat 5 Year Old

For anyone who hates the convertible car seat balancing act, there is a new option on the market for 2-5 year olds as of just a few years ago. The WAYB Pico is a car seat with a 5 point harness that folds up small enough to put in a backpack and fit in an airplane overhead bin. It also can be used on the airplane! I have a complete review of the WAYB Pico in all its MacGyver awesomeness. We tested it out with our son on a trip to Hawaii and were totally sold.

To be sure, the Pico is expensive, retailing at $380. Like the Doona, it’s probably a seat that works only for a speciality audience. But if you can justify the price, the product solves a lot of usual the air travel car seat dilemmas with toddler and preschoolers.

Important Specs for the WAYB Pico

  • Recommended Age: 2-5 years old
  • Weight Limits: 22-50 pounds
  • Height Limits: 30-45 inches tall
  • Dimensions of Seat: 11.6″ x 14.5″ x 18.9″ in
  • Weight to Carry: 8 pounds
  • FAA approved for use on a plane?: Yes
  • Fits in an overhead bin of a plane?: Yes

Ride Safer Travel Vest

Ride Safer Delight Travel Vest

One child restraint option that a lot of travelers don’t know about isn’t a car seat or a booster at all – it’s a vest! The Ride Safer Travel Vest is approved for kids ages 3 and up and retails for $169. The vest helps position a regular shoulder and lap belt in a proper spot that is safe for smaller passengers. In addition to being good for travel, this compact option also helps squeeze three kids across in back seats that would not accommodate multiple car seats.

This vest comes in three sizes. But since most families probably won’t purchase multiple items just for travel given price tag, I’d probably recommend the small which is good until about 60 pounds and 47 inches tall (around age 6). This would cover most younger kids until they get to be of an age where a less expensive travel booster (see below) would be a viable and safe alternative.

One word of warning – please, please be careful in purchasing vest-like child restraint devices on sites like Amazon. There are a number of fakes sold from overseas that are definitely not approved and not safe. If the price looks too good to be true, it’s probably is. Be sure to only purchase products from the companies “Safe Ride 4 Kids” or “Safe Traffic System Inc.”

Important Specs for the Ride Safer Travel Vest

  • Recommended Age: 3-6 years old (small), 5-11 years old (large), 9-14 years old (XL)
  • Weight Limits: 30-60 pounds (small), 50-80 pounds (large), 80-110 pounds (XL)
  • Height Limits: 35-47 inches tall (small), 45-57 inches tall (large), 55-64 inches tall (XL)
  • Weight to Carry: 1.5 pounds
  • FAA approved for use on a plane?: No
  • Fits in an overhead bin of a plane?:  Yes

Best Boosters for Air Travel for Older Kids


BubbleBum Review - Child Installing Booster in Car

The BubbleBum is an inflatable booster that is just ideal for air travel. Small enough to fit in a backpack or purse when deflated, parents can just throw this in a carry on bag and have a safe child restraint upon landing at their destination. Retailing at $34.99, it’s also a very affordable.

The BubbleBum is the travel product our family has used most, hands down (see my complete BubbleBum review). We’ve had one since my daughter reached booster age and height. She used until her 10th birthday on all of our travels (when she finally hit 4’9” and could now go without!). My son has used the newer design of this very same product regularly when we rent cars or take Uber/Lyft at our air travel destinations.

Important Specs for the BubbleBum

  • Recommended Age: 4-11 years old
  • Weight Limits: 40-100 pounds
  • Height Limits: 40-57 inches tall
  • Dimensions of Seat: 12 x 4 x 12.25 in
  • Weight to Carry: 1.2 pounds
  • FAA approved for use on a plane?: No
  • Fits in an overhead bin of a plane?: Yes

UberBoost Inflatable Booster Car Seat from Hiccapop

Hiccapop UberBoost Inflatable Booster Car Seat

Very similar to the BubbleBum is the UberBoost Inflatable Booster from Hiccapop. It’s a tad more expensive than the BubbleBum (usually about $2 more) and serves exactly the same function so most families won’t need both.

So what are the key differences to keep in mind when selecting between these similar products? The UberBoost has two features that some families may prefer: a wider seat that may be comfier for older or larger kids and a non-skid bottom that can help prevent slipping. But it also relies on a pretty bulky shoulder clip to position the shoulder belt that a lot of kids find uncomfortable.

Important Specs for the Hiccapop UberBoost

  • Recommended Age: 4-11 years old
  • Weight Limits: 40-110 pounds
  • Height Limits: not listed
  • Dimensions of Seat: 14.5 x 4.5 x 14.5 in
  • Weight to Carry: 1.3 pounds
  • FAA approved for use on a plane?: No
  • Fits in an overhead bin of a plane?: Yes


The biggest competitor to the inflatable boosters like BubbleBum and Hiccapop UberBoost for a super-compact booster option is the mifold. Basically the size and depth of a clutch purse, this child restraint is as small as it gets for squeezing into a bag or backpack. Instead of lifting a child up (like a traditional booster), it positions the seat belt down into the proper place.

My kids found the mifold a bit uncomfortable for sitting for long periods of time because it doesn’t have much padding. We also struggled to get the right belt fit a bit more than compared to the BubbleBum. But I know many families prefer it because it’s even more compact. The mifold can be a smart choice for shorter rides when space is really at a premium.

Important Specs for the mifold

  • Recommended Age: 4-12 years old
  • Weight Limits: 40-100 pounds
  • Height Limits: 40-57 inches tall
  • Dimensions of Seat: 1 x 13 x 7 in
  • Weight to Carry: 1.7 pounds
  • FAA approved for use on a plane?: No
  • Fits in an overhead bin of a plane?: Yes

hifold Highback Booster

hifold Highback Booster

Many parents prefer the safety and security of a highback booster seat, even for older kids. But highback boosters are mostly just as big and bulky as convertible car seats. No longer! The makers of mifold came out with a folding highback booster seat a couple of years ago that is ideal for taking on a plane – the hifold.

A lot of traveling kids technically big enough for a lowback booster aren’t really ready for one, especially those in the 4-6 year old age ranges. The hifold bridges this gap, offering a highback option small enough to fit in backpack or also in an airplane overhead bin.

We tested out the hifold recently with my sister’s 4 year old and it worked really well. When folded, it’s really not that much larger than a typical hard shell low back booster. It does have a bit of a learning curve with all the moving pieces so take time to learn its quirks before a trip by using at home first.

Important Specs for the hifold

  • Recommended Age: 4 years old & up (subject to weight/height max)
  • Weight Limits: 33-100 pounds
  • Height Limits: 36-59 inches tall
  • Dimensions of Seat: 9.8 x 13.5 x. 13.5 in folded, 29.7 x 15.6 x 18.9 in unfolded
  • Weight to Carry:  10 pounds, 2 ounces
  • FAA approved for use on a plane?: No
  • Fits in an overhead bin of a plane?: Yes

Have you used any of these car seats or boosters in travels with your kids? Share your favorites in the comments!

Flying with kids and worried about safe transport at your destination? These 9 car seats and boosters are compact, travel-friendly products perfect for Uber and Lyft rides, taxis, rental cars and more. Plus, many of them are FAA approved for airplane use or small enough to fit in the plane overhead bin! #carseat #airtravel #travelwithkids

Share this!:


Wednesday 10th of May 2023

Hi! How old is your child in the picture with the Cosco Scenera NEXT? I'm trying to decide whether to use my Chicco Keyfit 30 or grab a cheap upgrade for my upcoming flight. My daughter will be about 1 year old.

Leslie Harvey

Friday 12th of May 2023

He was a few months shy of turning 2 in that Costco Scenera NEXT photo. About 1 you could probably go either way between the bucket style seat or the convertible.