From the father of two kids and a guy who has crawled in the cargo holds of hundreds of planes, please take my advice —put your child's car seat or booster seat in a bag before it goes under the plane. If you knew the conditions down there, you'd understand and never again give it a second thought.
I'm here to tell you about those conditions, because you need to know. There are many other things that fly inside the belly of a plane besides luggage. Produce, flowers, live fish, shellfish, pets, tobacco, biological specimens and human remains. Even horse and bull semen joins your precious valuables under the plane. Sometimes, those packages leak. It can be disgusting, smelly, and full of germs.
Look at how dirty those walls are!
Now, think about your kid's car seat sitting on or absorbing some of that. Think about the stuffed animal, teething ring, or blankie that you left clipped to the seat. You know all of those things go into your infant or toddler's mouth. If that grosses you out, it should!
Companies make car seat and stroller bags to keep your child's seats clean and protected when you fly. They can be had for $12.99 to $25.99 at stores like Target, Toys R Us, Wal-Mart and online through Amazon. These large, drawstring bags make loading the seat easy, and most of them have a place you can write your name and phone number on it for identification purposes. Some airlines provide plastic bags, if you check the seat as luggage. But if you gate check the seat, these bags are your best bet.
I beg you to consider your child's health when taking their car seat along on a flight. If you don't feel like you need to worry about the germs, putting the seat in a bag will at least reduce the wear and tear on the seat in which your child rides and grows before your eyes.
Top image via Getty