Rear Facing Seat on Airplane

Right, so Elizabeth is still rear facing in the car, so I also want her to be rear facing on our airplane rides.   Now that she is older than two, we have paid for her seat and are able to bring the car seat on board without worrying that we won’t end up with a seat for her at all, like would happen when she still rode free as a lap child.

The flight attendant on this flight tried to get me to turn her forward facing.  I told her no, I was going to keep her rear facing because that is how she rides in the car and this car seat is FAA approved this way.  The flight attendant then offered to move the man sitting in front of Elizabeth’s seat, so that he’d be able to recline his seat.  (Which I thought was nice of them.)

Here are my reasons for wanting Elizabeth to be rear facing on the airplane:

  1. In the event of a crash or hard landing or etc., young children are five times safer rear facing than forward facing.  That’s not five percent, that’s five times, 500%.  This is for cars at any rate, I assume it transfers to airplanes too, perhaps even more because the odds of an airplane being in a side impact crash or rear ending crash are practically zero.
  2. The airline seat belt is waaaaaay easier to get in properly in the rear facing position.  Once, I tried to forward face her on an airplane and it took me a half an hour to get it unbuckled again.  (I believe if you flip the airplane seat belt upside down before you buckle it, this is less of a problem.  But I didn’t know that until after I did it and I am not eager to test it.)
  3. She is unable to kick the seat in front of her.  I don’t allow her to do things like kick seats, but on an airplane, there is only so much I can do.  It’s not like I can take her outside as punishment or get her out of her seat.  It’s better that it is simply not an issue.  She’s an energetic kid and she doesn’t really have the ability to sit still for hours at a time.  I mean, it is difficult for me to sit completely still for this long and I am thirty years old.
  4. Her car seat, and all rear facing car seats, are so large that you wouldn’t really be able to recline the seat in front of her even if she were forward facing.
  5. Also, if you did recline your seat with her forward facing, your head is pretty much going to be in her lap.  The car seat puts her up higher and she’s going to be playing with your hair for the rest of the flight.

Now, rear facing carries with it a few problems.  Obviously, the person in front of us is unable to recline (but they are pretty much out of luck with a car seat behind them no matter which way it is facing), and the airplane seat belt has to run underneath Elizabeth.  She’s pretty much sitting right on the buckle.  She’s uncomfortable and is complaining.  (I managed to wedge her jacket under her, so it isn’t that bad anymore.)  But rear facing is not only safer on the plane, I find it to be much more convenient as well.  For everyone.

Now, the next time a flight attendant asks me to turn her around, instead of jumping to my own defense (defensively, I might add), I really need to stop, take a breath, and ask “what are your concerns?”  If I had known that she was worried about the person in front of Elizabeth, I would have answered differently, instead of just pointing out that yes, rear facing is allowed on airplanes.   And bless the lovely man in front of Elizabeth, who smiled, and said “oh, I don’t mind at all, I love children, I have four of my own.”