We got a second convertible car seat a few months ago, a Diono Radian RXT, because I knew we’d be doing a lot of plane travel and that my Britax Marathon Clicktight was not going to be an easy seat to take a long.
Some start details: We buy a separate seat for our 1 year old and always have. I’m not a sanctimommy and do it for only the reason that attempting to hold him for more than 5 minutes in a seated position has always been near impossible, even as a small infant.
We’ve taken 8 separate flights in the last 2 months, half on my own with the kids and half with the Dane helping. I’ll try and give you some idea of what to expect with this seat and traveling as I looked for information before flying and couldn’t find that much.
737: Our first 4 trips were all in a 737 and were international flights. First 737, I tried to rear face the Diono without a seat belt extender or angle adjuster and managed to get the seat belt stuck and poke the seat in front of us with the car seat. Guy in front was not happy and I couldn’t move the seat. Toddler was happy and slept, though. The Dane ended up having to detach the seat belt near the base in order to free it. Once we freed it, I asked for a seat belt extender but our Icelandic stewardesses gave me a weird infant in lap belt that just didn’t work. Good thing that you don’t need one to forward face. Next 3 trips, all forward facing without any issue.
With my husband, I folded down the Diono each time before back carrying it and had him hold the baby during this and install. This ended up not being necessary when I flew by myself with the kids and I just left it in the open position to back carry, front carried the 25 lb toddler and put him down in an empty seat whilst I installed the Diono.
CRJ-200: You can rear face on a CRJ 200 with an angle adjuster and taking the boot off and popping out the little section in front that gives it less recline. I know you aren’t supposed to do that in a car, but desperation in an airplane will make you think about this. Even though the Radian was not touching the seat in front, I was made to forward face by a stewardess on a Sky West flight because the guy couldn’t full recline in front of me. MMK, guess you want the baby to be a grump instead lady. Good thing is that the older CRJ-200s have enough pitch that the toddler was not able to kick the seat in front.
MD-88 and CRJ-900: AKA sardine can planes. We sat in regular coach near the back and in the back row on these planes. I made the mistake of forward facing on the MD-88 and in order to prevent kicking of the seat in front by holding down legs angered an already grumpy toddler who proceeded to scream for an hour straight. Avoid that at all costs. I did manage a good rear face with the help of an amazing flight attendant on a Delta CRJ-900, again with the boot removed and with an angle adjuster and with a self purchased self belt extender. I had to hold the straps for a while to prevent the kicking off on the toddler’s seat from jutting the car seat into the next one ahead of him. There was less than an inch clearance.
I find carrying the Diono Radian RXT on my back to be no big deal, even with a kid on the front as well. However, my husband complained it was uncomfortable and I heard other parents in the airport say that they had the seat and found it too difficult to carry and travel with. I used straps left over from my husband’s tool bag that are similar to the Diono straps but more heavy duty.