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Ahhhh Spirit Airlines, every US traveler’s favorite punching bag. But if you’re traveling with kids, Spirit Airlines can be a savior: we paid just $150 roundtrip per person between Los Angeles and DC! That was for some pretty last-minute bookings and included one checked bag for our family.
But when you’re traveling with kids on a discount airline with teeny tiny seats, there’s one question that looms large: can you use a car seat on Spirit Airlines?
Keep reading to get the inside scoop and our own experience.
Spirit Airlines car seat rules
The FAA requires that all US carriers try to let you use an approved car seat on board if you purchased a ticket for your child. That means that, if possible, they’ll move you around within the same class of service to find a spot where you can install it safely.
The challenge with Spirit and car seat usage is that their regular seats are tiny. As you can see here in the complete Spirit Airlines car seat policy, many of their “deluxe leather seats” are just 15.5″ wide. At most they’re 17″ wide. They also stipulate that a car seat shouldn’t be more than 25″ tall because of the limited space front-to-back.
There are also the usual rules for flying with a car seat: no sitting in an exit row (or in front of/behind one), no inflatable seat belts, and the car seat can’t block another passenger from exiting in an emergency.
Read more: Important info for traveling with car seats
Which car seats will fit on Spirit Airlines?
You need a narrow car seat to fit in the regular seats on Spirit Airlines. Assuming you have the seat next to your child’s car seat (as you should), you can raise the arm rest to install it, which will give you a little extra space. But between the narrow seat and the limited pitch, one of these big boys just isn’t going to have a shot. Oh, and don’t forget that none of the seats on Spirit Airlines recline – making it extra difficult to maneuver a huge car seat in.
If you think that still won’t be enough room, upgrading to the Big Front Seats – which are very generously sized – may not be terribly expensive, depending on the specific route. Another option if your child is 30-44 lbs and under 44″ is the FAA-approved CARES harness, which you can read more about here.
These excellent car seats should fit within Spirit’s parameters. Even though many of them have stated widths over 15.5-16″, the bases are often narrower than the shoulders. There might be a few others that do as well, but these are sure bets.
Narrow infant car seat for Spirit Airlines:
Narrow convertible car seats for Spirit Airlines:
Narrow forward-facing harnessed car seats:
- Graco Tranzitions SnugLock
- Evenflo Maestro Sport (we used an older version of this seat)
- Cosco Finale DX
- Wayb Pico (read our full review)
Spirit airlines booster seat policy
You can never use a booster seat on a flight; they aren’t FAA-approved since they require a lap-shoulder seatbelt. We’ve able to bring our favorite backless booster seat on Spirit Airlines and put it under the seat or in the overhead bin, along with our son’s backpack as his personal item. Learn more about flying with a booster seat.
Spirit Airlines lap child policy
As with all US airlines, you’re allowed to bring a lap child on Spirit Airlines as long as they are under 2 years old for the entire reservation. I’d encourage you to strongly consider the pros and cons of flying with a lap child, especially on an airline like Spirit that already offers such little space for passengers.
Spirit Airlines stroller policy
While we’re at it, it’s worth mentioning the Spirit Airlines stroller policy. They allow you to gate check one stroller for free per child, or if you’re traveling with two children you can gate check a double stroller.
If you want to avoid checking your stroller, you can get one of these and pop it in this backpack to take as your child’s personal item! It’ll fit under the seat in front of them and you can bring it on free of charge. On Spirit Airlines, a diaper bag also doesn’t count against your baggage allowance so you can get away with bringing all your baby’s needs on board.
Spirit car seat FAQs
The Spirit car seat policy is largely defined by the FAA rule that an airline must allow a parent to use a car seat if it fits. Be sure to bring one of the narrow car seats listed above to be sure it will fit in those tiny Spirit airlines seats, unless you plan to purchase one of their wider Big Front Seats. The Spirit Airlines carseat policy also specifies which rows have inflatable seatbelts and are unsuitable for car seat installation.
The Spirit stroller policy says that you can check one stroller per child (or a double stroller for two children) for free. If you have an ultra-portable stroller like this one you can always pop it in a backpack and put it under the seat in front of you as your personal item.
No, the Spirit Airlines car seat and stroller policy allows you to bring one of each item per child for free. That said, it’s much safer for both your child and your car seat to bring them on board and avoid checking them.