I’ve always been a bit of a sceptic about car seats for young kids on planes. I hadn’t given it much thought, but it always seemed a bit pointless, after all, a car seat won’t help you in a plane crash right?

It turns out, there are actually much better reasons to put babies in car seats on planes and it has nothing to do with crashes.

Hospitalised by turbulence

Last month, reported on an Aeroflot flight from Moscow to Bangkok that hit an ‘air hole’ which caused sudden and extreme turbulence. As the seatbelt sign had not been lit up at the time, people were violently thrown around the cabin.

“There was blood on the ceiling, people with broken noses, babies who were hurt. It was horrible. It came out of nowhere. It was like driving a car and a tire suddenly bursts,” one of the passengers .

In total, 27 passengers were hospitalised with injuries, including a one-year-old. As this scary example shows, things can happen quickly and without warning in the air.

A frightening video from one of the passengers shows the aftermath of the freak occurrence. 

The laws of physics still exist in the air

Allana Pinkerton, Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician and Global Safety Advocate at Dionio, told Good housekeeping that while crashes are extremely rare, the other risks of  incidents in flight are completely random.

“There is no way to predict when these incidents will occur, just like we cannot predict a car crash,”she says. “I always say ‘Err on the side of caution.’ If your child is not properly secured, they risk being injured or killed.”

Pinkteron was also quick to remind us that the laws of physics exist in a plane as much as in a car and there is no way that our arms alone could prevent a baby being thrown around during forceful turbulence.

Car seat guidelines for Australian Airlines

Virgin Australia accept the carriage of selected child restraint systems (which include car seats and harness type restraints) onboard. Approved CRSs must be certified for carriage in an aircraft.

Jetstar allows you to purchase a seat for your infant and also bring a car seat on board for them to sit in. Car seats must meet strict requirements. You must them by phone to add a car seat to your booking as a limited number can be fitted on each flight. Please note,on domestic flights within New Zealand on Q300 aircraft, car seats can’t be brought on board, but they can be checked in at no charge.

Qantas allow Child car seats to be carried on-board most Qantas and QantasLink flights and secured to an aircraft seat if approved by Qantas prior to travel. Approval cannot be obtained at the airport. Infants will need to be booked with a seat by contacting your local Qantas office to make the booking (infants booked online are booked as lap infants without a seat).