Between bottles, diapers, toys and everything else necessary, traveling with a small child may sometimes have parents feeling like a yak in Nepal. On top of all that, your child’s mode of transportation, the stroller and/or the car seat, needs to be brought along. For first time parents, knowing what to do when bringing a stroller or car seat on a plane can be a cautious venture at best. How big can it be? Do I have to check it? Do I have to pay extra to bring it? Will the airline provide me one with which to walk through the airport? So many questions, but fortunately, all of them have answers.
What are the rules for bringing a stroller on a plane?
All airlines have them, and while some are very similar, many have slight variations in terms of what they allow when it comes to strollers. So here are the rules for the 15 most traveled airlines in North America.
- American Airlines – “Each ticketed customer is allowed 1 stroller. Only small, collapsible and light strollers (up to 20lbs/9kgs) can be checked at the gate. Any stroller that weighs over 20lbs/9 kgs, is too large or is non−collapsible must be checked at the ticket counter.”
- Delta Airlines – “Children’s strollers and seat restraints are not counted as part of the standard baggage and therefore can easily be checked for free. For your convenience these items may be checked at curbside, the ticket counter, or at the gate.”
- Southwest Airlines – “Customers traveling with children will be allowed to check one stroller without charge. This is in addition to the regular free baggage allowance. Southwest Airlines will not assume liability for damage to strollers, (and) an optional Southwest-branded reusable car seat/stroller bag is available for purchase at any Southwest Airlines ticket counter for a $15 one time fee.”
- United Airlines – “United accepts one stroller and one car seat free of charge for each child, including children under the age of two traveling on an adult’s lap and infants traveling internationally on 10 percent of an adult fare. If requested by the customer, United can check strollers at the departure gate. United is not liable for damage to strollers. Customers cannot purchase excess valuation for strollers.”
- Air Canada – “Small strollers: Air Canada strongly recommends the use of small collapsible umbrella type strollers. A stroller with a collapsed diameter not exceeding 25.5 cm (10 in) and a length not exceeding 92 cm (36 in) is allowed, in addition to your carry-on allowance, regardless of destination. It can be checked at the gate to be delivered to you at the aircraft door at the end of your flight. Large strollers: Because gate facilities in airports are not designed to accommodate them, large, heavy strollers will need to be checked in and will count as one piece of baggage toward the maximum number of checked bags allowed by your fare type. Large strollers are also subject to space limitations, and there is a risk that they cannot be accommodated in the aircraft.”
- JetBlue – “If possible, strollers should be folded down. If it doesn’t fit through the x-ray machine, the TSA officers will find other ways to screen it. JetBlue will courtesy gate check strollers, but please be aware that strollers are not covered for damage if checked. JetBlue assumes no liability for loss, damage or delay.”
- Alaska Airlines – “We will transport your child’s stroller free of charge as checked baggage. You can check these items with your other baggage, or wait until you reach the gate area.”
- WestJet – “Strollers are permitted at no charge under the checked bag allowance.”
- AeroMexico – “One stroller, bassinet or baby carrier up to 44 pounds (20 kg) or 45 inches (1.14 m) is permitted at no extra charge.”
- Spirit Airlines – “We will happily check one stroller for no extra cost at the ticket counter. You may also check these items at the gate. We’ll have them waiting for you in your arrival city when you get off the aircraft.”
- Frontier – “A stroller may be checked free of charge when traveling with a child.”
- Volaris – “Take your baby in a stroller to the aircraft entrance, and you will receive it at your destination.” (The stroller or the baby? Just kidding, we know it’s the stroller, but we couldn’t resist.)
- Hawaiian Airlines – “Your stroller must be checked-in if it is: non-collapsible, or weighs over 50 lbs. Strollers are free to check, they may be checked at the gate using a claim-at-gate tag, if preferred.”
- Allegiant Air – “You may check a stroller as checked baggage at the time of check-in at the ticket counter or gate check it during boarding. There is no charge for checking or gate checking one stroller per fare-paying passenger. Gate checked strollers will be stowed in the cargo hold of the aircraft during the flight and delivered to the gate or passenger loading bridge upon arrival at your destination.”
- Virgin America – “Virgin America will accept assistive devices and certain other devices at no additional charge, including strollers. Virgin America will not assume liability or responsibility for fragile or unsuitably packaged items, including strollers.”
The TSA has a few additional pieces of advice when it comes to traveling with a child who needs a stroller. Strollers that aren’t being checked (or are being checked at the gate) will need to be screened by the X-ray, and you can carry your child when going through security. Of course this only applies to children who are young and small enough to need a stroller in the first place. Necessary items in the stroller for you kid, such as formula, are allowed to exceed the normal 3.4 ounce limit, but need to be declared. If you’re concerned about anything your airline’s gate agent should be able to help with all questions.