If you asked me, what is the worst thing about flying with a toddler, I would hands down say it’s the car seat. I can even put up with tantrums and diaper changes, but absolutely hate lugging “the beast” around the airport. When you travel with kids, you already are bringing more junk , than a regular person. Than add to it a car seat, that can weigh up to 22 pounds and is awkwardly shaped , and it can make for some cranky parents.
I remember flying to Europe with our daughter and trying to install it on an airplane, and having to attempt it 4 times, before being finally successful. Everyone is staring at you, while you are dripping in sweat. Than having to repeat it 3 more times on connecting flights. But we somehow made it. Actually, I decided to put off airplane travel, till my son was out of car seat, that’s how much I dislike it.
Of course , that did not work out. So here I was, facing the car seat dilemma for my 2.5 year old once again. This time we did it a bit differently. We decided to rent Cares safety restraint system from Ebay for 25 dollars , including shipping both ways (it’s a harness , that takes almost no space and straps around airplane seat). My son did well in it, but I think a baby younger than 2 would be uncomfortable.
For a car seat at the destination, I had 2 choices. Either bring my own or rent one in Calgary airport. Avis wanted to charge us 15 dollars per day, which would add up to 105 dollars for the trip. Hmm, a bit much. I decided to bring our Safety 1st Go hybrid seat, which is usually in grandma’s van. It’s more compact, than normal seat and comes with its own bag. Overall it worked out fine. The seat was a bit cumbersome, but 10 times better, than a normal seat, due to flexible back. All in all, I recommend this solution.
Also, I know Hertz used to allow AAA members to include a car seat rental at no charge, so that may be another option to consider. For more tips on flying with kids, you may want to check out http://www.mommypoints.com, which has lots of good info.