Travelling from New Zealand - Which car seat should you take?
If you are travelling out of the country with a little one, it's often sensible to take a car seat with you to keep your child safe for the journey. Having a car seat with you when on the plane, for example, can reduce the risk of injury during times of turbulence.
On the Plane
It pays to double check with the airline to ensure you can bring your car seat, and to double check to ensure there are no extra costs involved in bringing it with you.
If you want to use the seat on the flight it needs to be a seat which has been certified for aircraft use (check the instruction book or check for a sticker on the restraint - if you need help with this, we can help in store).
Airlines may also have additional requirements due to the size and position of their seats. For example, on Air New Zealand (as at November 2017), forward or rear-facing car seats can be used for children up to 7 years old, provided:
- It's no wider than 43 cm (17 inches)
- It's no higher than 48 cm (19 inches) if rear facing, or 65 cm (25.5 inches) if forward facing
- It's got a built in restraint system (boosters that use the vehicle seat belt would not meet this requirement)
- It's approved for use in a motor vehicle and approved for the child at their current weight / height.
- It's in good, safe, working order.
- The particular seat is not a premium business class seat.
New Zealand's other major air-line carrier is Jetstar. According to their website, parents need to contact them by phone when booking to ensure a child restraint can be accommodated on board as only a limited number can be fitted per flight. Jetstar also have a number of rules which must be complied with.
It is Jetstar's policy not to allow rear-facing car seats because these may inhibit others from reclining their seat back. However, they will consider allowing a rear-facing seat if a family member or friend sits in front of them and is okay with remaining upright for the flight.
Like Air New Zealand, for safety reasons, boosters that rely on a vehicle belt are an absolute no go on Jetstar flights.
On some Jetstar flights, car seats can't be used on board, but can be checked in as baggage for no additional charge. If you can't take your car seat on board, you'll generally use a special restraint provided by the airline to sit them on your lap securely. These restraints are designed to meet safety standards for airline travel.
Off the plane
One little known fact about New Zealand is that we have 3 different legal standards for car-seats: the NZ/Australian standard, the European standard, and the American standard (we also have a strange Japanese in-car seat that's legal to use, but let's ignore that for now).
Other countries aren't so tolerant. For example in Australia, you have to use a seat that complies with the NZ/Aus standard. It's not okay to use an American or European seat there. For that reason, you'll need to ensure the seat you have complies with the requirements of the country you're travelling to.
If you're unsure which standard your seat complies with, bring it into the shop at 18 Ihakara Street. We're more than happy to confirm the standard for you. We can also double check expiry dates.
A sensible option may be to hire a seat in the country you're visiting. This might work well if you're travelling somewhere with reputable hireage companies (like New Zealand). But we recommend caution in some countries, as hires may be expired or damaged seats
If you're planning on buying a seat when you get to your destination, you should be able to find a compliant seat fairly readily. Again be cautious of who you buy the seat from though, and ensure they are a reputable retailer.
Otherwise, if you're bringing your own seat from New Zealand, we truly stress that this is something to check before you go to ensure the seat is legal in the country you are travelling to. Lugging around a car seat is a pain even when you can use it - it'll be that much worse if you can't.
If you purchase a seat with the Aus/NZ standard or EU standard while overseas, then it can be brought back and used within New Zealand. However, a US standard seat can't be be brought back and used within New Zealand. US seats sold in New Zealand go through extra testing in New Zealand, requiring one seat from each batch being destroyed in the process. For that reason it's usually easier to buy US seats from New Zealand retailers (like Baby Box).
The bottom line:
Travelling with a little one is always going to require some research. Double check before you go, and your trip will be that much easier.