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The Ultimate Guide to Flying With a Stroller

Traveling with kids is tricky enough. Toss in the uncertainty of flying with a stroller, and things become all the more complicated. Trust me, I’ve been there – and I wish I had done a little research before traipsing off to the airport. After all, there are many rules and regulations regarding strollers on airplanes.

That’s why I created this handy guide for traveling with a baby stroller. Below, you will find all of the must-know information regarding traveling with a stroller, from whether or not you can take it on the plane to how to protect your stroller while traveling by plane (plus what to do if it gets lost or damaged – it happens!).

Can You Take a Stroller on a Plane?

Yes, you can bring a stroller (and car seat) onto a plane. However, every airline has different rules and regulations for what is allowed. Here are the top three ways you can bring a stroller onto an airplane.

With Checked Baggage Allowance

One of the simplest ways to bring your stroller (and car seats) along for the ride is to have them checked with your baggage. Most airlines will allow a stroller and car seat along with your regular free baggage allowance, free of charge, depending on your child’s age. (That is why it’s always recommended to double-check airline rules before traveling to the airport).

The best part is that you’re checking your stroller or car seat; you can typically do so in multiple ways for your convenience. For instance, you may be able to check it curbside, at the ticket counter (for example, the Southwest Airlines ticket counter), or departure gate.

In the Overhead Cabin With Carry-On Bags

If your stroller is small enough, you may be able to stash it in the overhead cabin free of charge. If there is enough room, you will be able to transport the stroller in addition to your overhead baggage free of charge.

Note: One car seat per child is also allowed (an FAA-approved car seat is required). While FAA-approved car seats are not required for your baby or small child to fly, it is highly recommended. 

In the Overhead Cabin Without Carry-On

Not all airlines are created equal. While some will allow you to bring a compact stroller alongside your carry-on, others demand you choose between one or the other. So, in some circumstances, you sacrifice your standard carry-on allowance to take your stroller on board.

What Size Stroller Can I Take on a Plane?

So, we’ve successfully discovered that you can bring your stroller (and car seats) on an airplane, although where it’s placed depends on the aircraft. The other thing to consider is the size. After all, just because a stroller is “allowed” as a carry-on doesn’t mean that all strollers will suit the requirements.

That said, what size strollers can go on airplanes?

Regarding strollers on an airplane, size only matters for one thing: where the stroller is secured. If your stroller is small enough, it might be able to come on board as a carry-on (as an addition to your carry-on luggage or as your single carry-on allowance). 

Now, when I say small, I mean very small. (If you’ve never ridden in an airplane before, you’ll be surprised to see how small the overhead compartments are!) Generally, airplanes require the carry-on stroller to have a diameter of fewer than ten inches and a length of 36 inches or below.

You needn’t worry about the size if you’re not planning to bring your stroller on board as a carry-on. Generally, all sizes are a-okay. The only essential thing to remember is that the stroller must be collapsible. So, whether you have a large-and-in-charge double stroller or a top-of-the-line jogging stroller with all of the features, as long as it can collapse, you can check it and bring it along for the trip.

As always, the best thing to do is double-check with the airline you’re using, as all airlines have their own rules about what’s allowed and, more importantly, what’s not.

Are Strollers Allowed Through TSA?

Strollers are allowed and are required to be checked by TSA (Transportation Security Administration). This includes all types of strollers and accessories, such as car seats, booster seats, diaper bags, backpacks, etc.

Here are the two most important things to remember about your stroller and TSA checks:

  • All items must be removed from the stroller pockets and baskets. Place them in the carry-on bag or on the X-ray belt so they may be appropriately screened. (Be ready, so you do not hold up the line).
  • If your stroller (and other pieces of equipment) do not fit through the X-ray machine, they will need to undergo a visual and physical inspection performed by the TSA officers.

Are Strollers Free to Check on Planes?

Traveling by plane can be expensive. Between the tickets, the hotel room, car rentals, etc., the prices add up. The last thing you want to do is end up paying more just to bring your (essential) stroller and car seat along for the ride. 

The good news is that bringing your own personal stroller on the plane is 100% free, along with your free checked baggage allowance. Oh, and the car seat? Free as well. Keep in mind that this rule applies to one stroller and one car seat per child. If you need to bring along additional car seats and strollers for one child, you may need to pay extra fees. Double-check with your chosen airline for specifics about pricing for multiple children’s strollers.

Gate Checking Your Stroller When Flying with Baby

If you’ve never flown before, the process of gate-checking can sound complicated or frightening. But I promise – gate-checking your stroller will probably be the most straightforward part of your trip. Here’s how to gate-check your stroller:

  • Check your bags. The first thing you’ll need to do upon arriving at the airport is to check your baggage. However, do not check your stroller at this time.
  • Take your stroller through security. Like any other item, your stroller must be checked through TSA.
  • Take your stroller up to the gate. At this point, the flight attendant will likely give you a particular tag to place on your stroller. This allows you to continue using your stroller through the airport before boarding.
  • Drop your stroller off while boarding. When it’s time to board your flight, take your stroller to the gate. There will be employees at the boarding gate ready to take your item and secure it. 
  • Pick up your stroller. Once you’ve arrived, pick up your stroller from the jet bridge. There is no need to sift through the luggage in the baggage hall. Keep in mind that not all strollers can be gate checked! Although they don’t have to be small enough to fit in the overhead bin, they still must be 100% foldable and on the small side. Again, check the rules of your airline before leaving for your flight.

Strollers on Airplanes – Rules and Regulations from Top Airlines

Many airlines are available to excited travelers, and all of them have their own set of rules for strollers. Below, you will find a quick breakdown of the regulations from well-known airlines you may fly with.

Quick note: we can’t take responsibility for keeping this information up to date so always double-check with the airline’s website or give them a call to confirm:

Air France

Air France allows one child restraint system and a collapsible stroller to be placed in the overhead compartment for international flights for free, except those from France and Pointe-a-Pitre, Fort-de-France, Havana, Saint Martin, Cayenne, Reunion, Mauritius, Punta Canada, and Santa Domingo. However, the stroller must be smaller than 5.9 x 11.8 x 39.4 inches.

Slightly larger strollers (no larger than 21 x 13 x 9 inches) can be placed in the overhead compartment, but they will replace the baggage allowance for your infant. It must be enclosed in a carrying bag or case.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines has a few different rules for bringing strollers on airplanes.

For one, every stroller or car seat, along with your checked baggage, is allowed free of charge. You can check your strollers and car seats at the ticket counter or bring them to the boarding gate. Gate-checked strollers will then be moved to the hold with your baggage.

If there is room on the airplane, you can bring your stroller on board.

British Airways

British Airways allows smaller, fully collapsible pushchair/lightweight stroller to be left and collected at the aircraft door. They must not exceed 46 x 15 x 15 inches when collapsed. Slightly larger strollers that do not exceed the maximum bag dimensions for carry-on allowance can be brought onto the plane. However, this will replace your carry-on baggage allowance.

Larger strollers for infants traveling internationally or within the country must be checked with standard baggage and picked up at the baggage carousel.

Delta

Delta allows parents to gate-check their strollers and crs’s (or car seats). You can check your baby equipment free of charge at the curb, ticket counter, or gate. They also allow seat restraints to be brought on board, such as a booster seat, bassinet, or in ant seats. However, they must not exceed carry-on size restrictions.

Jet Blue

Jet Blue allows individuals to bring their child’s car seat, foldable stroller, and other equipment, such as a diaper bag, on board the flight. Yet, they do not give infants and small babies hand baggage allowance. So, everything your child requires will need to be packed in your luggage.

Southwest

Southwest Airlines will gate-check your child’s car seat and stroller free of charge, and they can be checked at the curb, ticket counter, or gate. This applies to all types of strollers, from umbrella strollers to larger double strollers and everything in between.

Southwest also offers travelers with reusable car seats and strollers for a low price.

Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines accepts an infant car seat and stroller free of charge. They can be left at the gate check and be ready when you arrive at your arrival city, taking the complications out of things.

Spirit Airlines also allows parents to bring a single FAA-approved car seat on board as long as the parent has purchased an infant ticket for them to have their own seat. Keep in mind that not all seats can accommodate a car seat. For example, the child seat cannot have an inflatable seat belt.

United Airlines

When it comes to United Airlines, parents are allowed to bring a car seat and one fully collapsible pushchair per child that does not exceed 9 x 10 x 17 inches. You may also bring a breast pump, milk, and diaper bag. This does not replace your carry-on allowance.

Larger strollers or car seats will need to be gate-checked. If you’re bringing an extra-large wagon or a stroller that does not collapse, you will need to check your items at the counter – they cannot be checked at gate check.

Can I Bring My Stroller as a Carry-On?

The best way to answer this is maybe. It depends on two things – the airline’s rules and the size of your stroller. 

The first thing to check is the regulations of the airline. Most airlines will allow a foldable stroller, umbrella stroller, or other small, compact stroller to be used as a carry-on. But not all airlines are created equal. Some do not allow strollers as carry-ons. Others allow strollers on board, but they will replace your carry-on luggage allowance. Regardless, those that accept strollers in the overhead compartment will do so for free.

If the airline accepts strollers as carry-on, you need to double-check the size limits. All airlines will have limitations. For instance, your travel stroller must break down to no more than 46 x 15 x 15 inches to be allowed as a carry-on for British Airways or 5.9 x 11.8 x 39.4 inches for Air France.

If your airline does accept strollers in the overhead bin and your stroller does not exceed the maximum dimensions for carry-ons, then yes, you can bring your stroller on board the flight.

The best thing to do is call the airline or check their website to get an official answer on whether or not you can bring your stroller as a carry-on. (At this point, you should also check for information regarding infant seats, if necessary.)

How to Protect a Stroller When Flying

Traveling with a stroller on an airplane can be nerve-wracking. After all, strollers (and car seats) aren’t cheap, and let’s be honest – the folks handling baggage and working the baggage claim don’t always proceed with utmost caution.

That’s why it is essential for you to take the proper steps to keep your stroller safe and secure while traveling by plane. Here are some of the top tips to consider:

1. Bring it On Board

The absolute best way to ensure your stroller remains in tip-top condition is to bring it on board. That way, you’re in charge of handling it from start to end, and you can make sure nothing bad happens to your precious baby item.

2. Get a Stroller Travel Bag

Not all strollers will be able to make it on board, unfortunately. (We’re looking at you, big and clunky double stroller!) But if you have to check your stroller with your checked baggage, don’t panic – there are still many ways to keep your item safe.

A travel stroller bag will be your best line of defense when it comes to flying with a stroller. A travel stroller bag will keep your stroller safe from the elements, especially dirt, grime, and moisture.

Ensure that your stroller fits inside the bag. You don’t want any of the pieces hanging outside of the bag. Otherwise, it will be susceptible to build-up and potential damage.

Also, make sure the bag is 100% waterproof and durable. The more reliable the stroller travel bag, the less you’ll have to worry about. Consider a padded bag for even more stability and protection.

Lastly, opt for a brightly-colored bag. We all know how hectic baggage claim is. Opting for a bag that’s vivid and easily seen will cut down on potential hours spent searching for your items.

3. Wrap it in Bubble Wrap

I know what you’re thinking – “This is a little over the top.” And, to be honest, you’re probably right. But when it comes to traveling with an essential item like a stroller, I think it’s better to be safe than sorry.

That brings up to my tip number three – wrapping your stroller in bubble wrap (before placing it inside your handy dandy stroller travel bag, of course).

All you need to do is wrap the stroller in bubble wrap and use some tape to keep it securely wrapped around your product. Then, slip it into your stroller travel bag and be on your way.

The extra layer of bubbly protection will keep your stroller from getting damaged. Not only that, but your kids will have a grand time playing with it when you’re done. It’s a win-win for everyone, parents and kids!

4. Pack Stroller Accessories Separately

As a mother of two small kids, I’ve dealt with my fair share of strollers – some amazing, some just OK, and others I had to return the next day. But regardless of how wonderful some of them were, I have to admit one thing – those stroller accessories are pretty flimsy, and that’s true for more expensive and higher-end models, too.

That said, I highly recommend packing stroller accessories separately, lest they get damaged during transportation. I’m talking about all those great extras – cup holders, sun canopies, etc. Remove them and pack them safely in another bag. Yes, this means more time and energy on your behalf, but trust me – you’ll thank me later.

What If My Stroller is Lost or Damaged?

Even with the best preparations and packaging, strollers can still be damaged – or worse, lost altogether. But what happens if your stroller arrives at your final destination with broken pieces? What if it doesn’t arrive at all? Here’s what to do.

If Lost

Once you arrive at your destination, it is crucial to ask an employee at the jet bridge if they have your stroller gate-checked. You do not want to leave this area until they’re confident they do not have your items. From there, you can move to the baggage claim area. If you can’t find your stroller in the baggage carousel, speak to an employee to help them track down your item.

If all steps have been taken, and you’re still without a stroller, you may need to purchase a new stroller nearby. Save the receipt! Most of the time, the airline will reimburse most (if not all) of the cost of replacing your stroller. If the airline does not, you may be able to get reimbursed by your credit card company.

If Damaged

If your stroller is damaged during the flight, things are a bit trickier to remedy. That’s because, while the United States laws state that flights must compensate for damage, it’s not entirely clear what type of “damage” is eligible. For instance, they will not pay for wear and tear,  but what constitutes wear and tear?

The best thing to do is to take a photo of your stroller prior to flying. Once you land, check your stroller for any signs of damage. If there is noticeable damage, snap a photo and submit a claim immediately. There will likely be lots of back and forth with the airline before a clear-cut answer as to how they will remedy the situation. And unfortunately, not all claims result in a  happy ending.

Tips for Flying with Strollers

Traveling with children of any age can be hectic, but I want the process to be as smooth as possible for you. That’s why I’ve added these handy tips for flying with a stroller. Let’s check it out, parents and guardians!

1. Check Rules Before Packing and Leaving

My number one tip is to check the rules and regulations regarding strollers for your particular airline. Not all airlines have the same rules. Know what to expect before packing and leaving for your flight.

2. Prepare Your Stroller

You want to ensure your stroller is prepared for flight – just like your adorable tot is prepared! To do so, snap a photo of how it looks (you know, in case any damages occur). Remove all the accessories and pack them securely in your luggage. Then, wrap the stroller in bubble wrap and place it in a stroller travel bag. 

3. Check Your Stroller – Or Don’t

Now that you’ve prepared your stroller and arrived at the airport, you’ll want to check your stroller. You can check it with the rest of your luggage. Some airlines allow you to check right at the curb or ticket counter.

However, you can also decide to check your stroller at the gate. With a gate check, you won’t have to deal with finding your item at the baggage claim. Your stroller will be brought directly to you once you’ve landed.

Your other option is to bring your stroller on board. This is the ideal choice, but you’ll need to have a very lightweight, compact, and fully collapsable model to do so.

The Best Strollers for Flying

Not all strollers are ideal for traveling, especially when it comes to traveling by plane. That’s why I recently wrote a handy article about my favorite strollers for traveling by airplane. However, if you want a quick breakdown of which strollers to consider for airplane travel, here’s an overview:

The Mountain Buggy Nano V3 is a super small stroller that’s budget-friendly and can easily fit in overhead compartments. It’s easy to transport around the airport thanks to the included carrying strap, and it can even be used with a car seat as an ultra-compact travel system. 

If you don’t mind spending more for a top-notch airplane stroller, the gb Pockit+ is an excellent option. It weighs just 10 ½ pounds and has a handy self-standing mode when broken down. The best part is that, while it’s technically an umbrella stroller, it comes with all-terrain wheels for an incredibly smooth ride.

For those that want an actual all-terrain stroller to take along for the ride, the Baby Jogger City Mini GT2 is a must. It glides beautifully and has four different modes to transport children of all ages.

Are you working on a budget? Then consider the Summer Infant 3D. This little stroller fits in overhead bins with ease. And, while it’s low-budget, it’s still a top-tier, lightweight stroller that is best suited for older babies and toddlers.

Lastly, if you’re in a situation like mine and have two adorable kids to tote around, the Joovy Kooper RS2 is the best choice. While it doesn’t fit in overhead compartments, it has a convenient one-hand fold and is incredibly easy to maneuver. You won’t find that with other double strollers!

Verdict

There you have it, parents and guardians! See? Traveling by plane with a stroller isn’t so complicated, and you can bring a stroller and car seat free (one per child). Whether or not it can be carried onto the plane solely depends on the airline’s rules and the size of your stroller, but if it can’t be carried on, you can always gate-check it. Just make sure that if you need to check your stroller, you take photos of it and wrap it carefully with bubble wrap before securing it in a travel stroller bag.

Where are you planning to fly off to with you, your child, and their stroller?

1 thought on “The Ultimate Guide to Flying With a Stroller”

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