Top critical review
Close, so close
Reviewed in the United States on July 7, 2018
First, it's generally good because it's approved and keeps the kids from running around the airplane or (presumably) dying in a crash.
But it's got some gaps that make it hard to use, or hacks you need to know to work with it right.
First off, there's no practicing at home. Airplane seats, and seatbelts, are not like anything else you have access to. So, you will be confused the first time you install it. And, the instructions are not that useful for all these tips. So, let's take it one at a time, how you install it. Instructions are on paper, so you cannot refer to them while installing it.
Ideally, it would have each step silkscreened to the straps, and the bag would include that it's approved under whichever regulations by the FAA, IATA, etc.
Silkscreened, not paper tags sewn on with chewing gum. See, our baby (being a baby) threw up while in it. This is totally predictable, but just like all car seats are not designed to handle this, it was very hard to clean the harness. So when we got home, we washed it. Gently, and yet ALL the tags about safety, certifications, how to use it, and who to return to when found, fell off. They are not even sewn badly, but are literally stickers. Serious minus for that again.
1) Avoid a rear bulkhead seat. When booking the flight, do not get the last seat in any plane, as you need to be behind the seat to set it up. While no seats are bolted to bulkheads, some do not have ANY room behind, and you won't get the thing installed.
2) Don't drop the harness. It's in a horrific bag, slippery and with no particular way to close it (it should have a toggle, but instead has a piece of tube that doesn't hold it closed). It should, actually, have some tiedowns and a caribiner to clip to the outside of your luggage so you have it close at hand. But it doesn't.
3) Get on the plane early. Some airlines like American have stopped pre-boarding, but try to be first in line with your obvious child, or ask if you can pre-board. You will need time to set up, and you will be intruding on the space behind your seat, so you need to get
4) Be prepared for flight attendants to not be familiar with it. Maybe bring a copy of the air regulations to prove it's permitted. Some are very familiar, and may even help you install it. Take the help.
5) Clear the seat you'll be getting the kid into, and make installing the seatbelt your only job. If you are traveling alone with the child, good luck. You need all your hands to do this. Kneel or stand facing to the back of the aircraft and get the harness out.
6) Open the tray table on the seat behind you. I can reach over, but if you are short, this may involve moving to the seat row behind you. Or standing on the seat you are working on. Or, having a flight attendant or traveling companion help.
7) Loop the red strap OVER the seat. Make sure the black straps are facing you, then drop it down from the top, until you are near the top of the tray table slot.
8) Tighten the strap.
This is a weird strap to most of us. The black tail is used to loosen. Pull the loose end of the red strap to tighten. You will need to take up slack, by moving the slider around so the loose strap is not loose.
This tightening is the most finagled part of the operation. It will take a couple tightenings, the slider will need to go around the edge of the seat which it cannot do when tight, and you need to finagle it all.
Make sure the black straps are approximately centered in the seat.
When tight, it won't slide down if you tug on the black straps.
9) Close the tray table behind you.
10) Find the seatbelt. Loop it through the bottom of the black straps. This is a pre-check to make sure you found them, the height is right and to understand how it works. These won't stay there, so you'll do it again when the kid is installed. LOOSEN the seatbelt, and unclip it. You need slack later on with squirming kid.
To adjust height, the gray buttons on the black straps release tension to loosen, or tug on the loose end to tighten.
11) Get your anti-slip pad. Oh, they didn't include one? Correct. Airline seats are slippery, and your kid will slouch and choke himself to death on the sternum strap. Get a seat-sized piece of anti-skid matting (like the rubberized shelf liner mesh) and pack in the bag.
12) Stick your kiddo's bottom on the matting, as far back in the seat as you can. Ideally, someone else holds them there while you do the rest.
13) Drop the straps over their body, and clip the sternum strap. Unlike on a car seat, the straps at top are rigidly attached so they are pretty locked in at this point and won't easily escape.
14) Loops the seatbelt back through the lower bits of the black straps, and clip it. Slowly tighten. So you can tell where it goes. Yeah, yeah, seatbelts should be low-and-tight. No. It should be low but pulling them, to the REAR of the seat. If it pulls down they can squirm out, etc.
15) Adjust the height with the gray buttons etc. as I mentioned before. Get the seatbelt as low as possible, while still being up on their belly, not down on their legs per se.
16) Tighten the belt. Pretty tight. A tidge tighter than car seat tight I say. You may loosen if your kid is calm or asleep later, but it's a wide belt so isn't uncomfortable when tight.
17) SECURE THE BELT. Airline seatbelts are mostly the pull-up-to-release type and are trivial for even a 6 month old to release. There is, inexplicably, so accounting for this by the product.
I just loop the loose end of the seatbelt back over it, through the black straps, back round, etc. and sort of knot it so it's blocked.
Yes, this seems horribly dangerous if we had to get out in a crash, but planes don't crash.
Removing it is easier, as while the reverse pretty much, now you know how it works!