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Gone with the FLLO - Traveling with the Clek FLLO

In previous posts, I've already detailed the awesomeness of Clek's FLLO seat, so no need for redundancy here. The true test of its greatness lies in how well it travels, since it is meant to be a "compact" and more portable version of the gargantuan FOONF.

Now, to be clear, we purchased a Clek WEELEE bag to transport our car seat on our flight to and from Maui, *and* we checked our car seat with our airline, which I know is a big CPS Tech no-no. They argue that any car seat that has been checked is as good as crashed, because the potential rough handling of the seat by the carrier compromises its integrity and could damage it internally. My experience (now that I've done it) is this:

It's in the bag... the Weelee bag
a) The Weelee bag is very well padded and sturdy. Once I had the seat properly placed inside the bag, I felt that it was as good as any seat in a styrofoam-packaged box. The bonus, of course, is that unlike a box, the Weelee has a telescopic handle and deeply-grooved, rugged wheels, plus a bit of extra storage inside for other light items (we put a fleece blanket and a Baby Jogger stroller tray inside ours).


b) The airline we flew with handles the fragile-checked car seat the same way that they handle and store strollers that are gate-checked. We have flown almost exclusively with this same carrier for the past decade, and our experience with our gate-checked umbrella stroller has never been concerning. We therefore assumed that it would not be a problem for them to be gentle with our car seat, since this was the 23rd and 24th time we've gate-checked items with them in the past 32 months.

So, how was the FLLO?

A happy passenger
The Good
- Convenient: easy to install because it's a seat we are familiar with, and their LATCH system is a breeze to use. We had the seat installed and ready to go in 5 minutes, and also removed and packed back into the Weelee bag in 5 on our return. Since we had already been using the seat, it was also already adjusted to the proper belt heights and lengths for Little L upon arrival in Maui

- Comfy for Little L, who we already know loves her Clek seats; we did several longer drives and there was nary a complaint from the rear-facer. We rented a Chev Impala and she had no problems seeing out the window, nor did Hubbs have any issues with view obstruction from the driver's seat

- Cool; no complaints from being loaded into the seat after the vehicle was left baking in the hot Hawaiian sun all day, thanks to the Crypton Super Fabric upholstering

The Bad
- Make sure you know how to store and remove the LATCH buckles, adjust head rest height, remove the seat cover, and install/remove the anti-rebound bar prior to traveling. Better yet, store the manual in the rear compartment of the seat, and always bring it with you. I naively thought that since I own 3 similar Clek seats, I didn't need to bring the manual. What resulted was a 20-minute fight with the anti-rebound bar at the car rental place at 10:00 pm. After the losing battle, we decided to forego its install and just put in the car seat. Luckily, on the FLLO the anti-rebound bar is optional in the U.S. (but mandatory in Canada!); otherwise, I'm sure we would have been wrestling with the bar for a much longer time.
Tip: The anti-rebound bar is installed from the very bottom of the base, the one that has the pivoting "flip foot" for rear-facing. Attempting to install the bar from the space between the seat and the base is an exercise in futility and stupidity. 
See that? The bar goes in under the base, but above the pivoting rear flip foot.


With the bar and the Weelee bag and the stroller food tray, airline says it was 43 pounds!

The Ugly
- Since the FLLO is still a large car seat, so too is its traveling case. On its own, the Weelee case collapses into a fairly flat package, and will fit into any trunk. However, together the Weelee with the FLLO inside dwarfed even our largest, 47-pound suitcase. You must factor this in when you rent a vehicle at your destination, or when you are taking a shuttle from the airport to the car rental place, or when you are cabbing from your home to the airport. You will need space, and lots of it, especially when you're traveling with other gear for your littles. In case you were wondering, we installed the car seat right at the car rental place and then collapsed the Weelee for easy transport. Whenever we cabbed, we requested a mini-van taxi, and we took multiple trips loading and off-loading the shuttle bus. We also traveled with two other grown-ups (my mom and my sis), who had extra hands to help.

Here the Weelee is beside the "medium" sized suitcases we had. The large 47 pound one was being weighed.

- The FLLO and Weelee bag do not easily fit on any airport cart. Bring extra hands to help, especially if you plan to wheel it on board for in-flight install.

I'm not sure the Weelee would have fit the trunk in its opened state.

BOTTOM LINE: Hubbs and I are now believers in the BYO car seat practice for travel. In future flights, we will definitely be taking the FLLO with us again. We have zero regrets about purchasing the Weelee bag, and cannot imagine having brought the FLLO without it.  We reminisced about our Honolulu trip, taken with Little L when she was 11 months old. She cried every single time we loaded her into the car, because she hated the car seat that we had rented. HATED IT. And on that trip, even though we had minimized our vehicle use as much as possible, we still found ourselves having to drive several times a week to get groceries or random baby stuff. This Maui trip was the complete opposite of that trip; Little L was totally game to load into the vehicle several times a day, even. We have no doubt that this was due at least in part to her comfort in the FLLO. Despite the seeming hassle of lugging such a beast of a package around, it was so worth it to have peace of mind during our 3 weeks away.


Comments

mom2014 said…
Hi! Thanks for all this info, just to clarify, did you gate check your fllo or check it with your baggage? Many thanks!
Mrs. Loquacious said…
I checked it with a fragile tag and using the Weelee. I was told it would be handled in the same way as gate-checked stuff.
mom2014 said…
thanks so much! have you used your fllo yet on an airplane?
Mrs. Loquacious said…
No, I haven't! Little L is big enough to sit on her own seat so we used the CARES harness (which she has also outgrown now). Sorry!

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