For new parents, trying to figure out airline policies for baby equipment can be confusing! Flying with a stroller can seem intimidating, especially when you haven’t done it before. Rest assured that if you understand the process, it’s easy to follow each airline’s guidelines and you’ll be an expert in flying with a stroller in no time!
Generally, when flying with a baby you can bring strollers on airplanes because airlines understand you’ll need them at your destination. The method of storage for your stroller on the airplane is what will vary between airlines and airports. It would be nice if airport and airline stroller policy was consistent across the board, but unfortunately that’s not the case.
For everyone who’s wondered, “are strollers allowed on airplanes?” read on to discover how you can travel with your baby and all your baby travel gear. This post will help you with what you need to know when flying with a stroller PLUS where to go for more information for your particular circumstance.
What You’ll Find in This Article on Flying with a Stroller:
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Can You Take a Stroller on a Plane?
Each airline has different regulations about strollers allowed on airplanes, but overall, yes, you can take a stroller on a plane. In fact, there are many benefits to taking a baby stroller on a plane.
Flying with your stroller saves you the time and expense of buying or renting one at your destination if that option is available to you. You’re familiar with your usual stroller, so you don’t want to risk trying something new. You also won’t need to worry about picking it up or waiting for it to be delivered.
Your Options for Taking a Stroller on a Plane
You have a few options when preparing to take a stroller on a plane. We’ll look at each in more detail later.
1. Bring Your Stroller on the Plane
You can bring a compact folding stroller that fits inside the overhead bin. Your carry-on stroller will count as a carry-on item, but you’ll have it on hand for when you need it. A benefit of this option is you don’t have to worry about your travel stroller getting lost or damaged. Some of my recommended toddler strollers for travel can fit in the overhead bin on most airplanes!
2. Gate Check Stroller
What is gate checking a stroller? This convenient option for parents allows you to keep your stroller with you while in the airport. When it’s time to board your flight, you’ll be expected to fold your stroller at the end of the jetway, where it can be loaded onto the plane. In most cases, you’ll have it returned in a similar location at your destination.
3. Check Stroller with Checked Baggage
When you check a stroller at the counter, it’s treated like checked baggage. The attendants load your stroller into the plane along with the suitcases.
Strollers cost a lot of money, so making the right choice is important. To help you decide which option is right for your family, let’s review each of these different methods of taking baby strollers on airplanes.
Putting a Carry-on Stroller in Overhead Compartment
The biggest benefit of traveling with a stroller that fits in the overhead bin is that you will have it safely with you the entire time. This is especially useful for flying with a toddler that you want to keep in the stroller in the airport!
A carry-on stroller is also convenient if you are traveling with a car seat, as we all know lugging around a car seat without a stroller is a pain. Having a carry-on stroller allows you to keep your car seat on the stroller up until you need to fold your stroller before getting on the plane.
The best airplane strollers to bring onto the airplane are lightweight and easy to fold. As with all carry-on luggage, you’ll need to ensure the folded dimensions meet the size requirements for storing the stroller in the overhead compartment on the airplane.
Carry On Stroller Dimensions
In the US, the standard domestic size for carry-on luggage is 22” x 14” x 9”, but some airlines may differ by an inch or two, like Southwest Airlines at 24” x 16” x 10”.
International airlines carry-on luggage sizes aren’t all that different. For example:
- Lufthansa: 21.7” x 15.7” x 9”
- KLM: 21.5” x 13.5” x 10”
- Air Canada: 21.7” x 15.7” x 9”
From Lufthansa: “You can take so-called “pocket buggies” on board as part of your permitted carry-on baggage allowance if they have been suitably packed up to no longer look like a pushchair.”
From the International Air Transport Association: “carry-on baggage should have maximum length of 22 in (56 cm), width of 18 in (45 cm) and depth of 10 in (25 cm).“
How To Check a Stroller when Flying
There are two ways to check a stroller.
- You can check it with your luggage as soon as you get to the airport. This option means you don’t have to think about your stroller again until you arrive at your final destination. The employees load it onto the plane with the baggage, and you collect it from the baggage claim carousel after you land.
- You can gate check your stroller. In case you need the stroller to get around the airport, you can keep it with you until you board the plane. The flight attendant will give you a label or tag to put on the stroller.
Generally, a stroller is part of your two pieces of baby equipment which are included in free of charge checked baggage allowance.
Checking a Stroller With Luggage
You can check your stroller with your luggage either at the curbside luggage kiosk or at the ticket counter. The airline employees treat it like baggage and give you a tag to attach to the item so you can claim it later.
Note: When you arrive at your destination, your stroller may either be on the baggage carousel or at the oversized luggage counter. In our experience, you’ll most likely find it at the oversized luggage counter.
If you have a larger stroller that folds into two sections, ask for a luggage tag for each one. You don’t want to lose one part, rendering the stroller useless at your destination.
Even if your foldable stroller folds into a small size, you can still check it like baggage.
For parents planning to check their stroller at the ticket counter, we recommend you have another option to help carry your baby around the airport. Wearing your baby in a sling or baby travel carrier can keep that weight off your arms and make the walk to the gate more comfortable for everyone! Having a backpack diaper bag will help keep your hands free as you navigate security and walk through the airport with your baby.
Gate Checking a Stroller
If you’re taking a stroller to the airport, it’s likely that you’ll need it while you wait to board the plane, especially if you also have a car seat. Therefore, you don’t want to check your stroller with luggage, then have to carry your baby and carry-on bag all over the airport.
Good travel strollers built for traveling on airplanes are compact but still provide a comfortable seat for your baby. As a bonus, you don’t have to carry your baby, so you have more freedom to hold your carry-on or get them snacks or drinks.
The best travel strollers for airplanes, whether you are carrying it on or gate checking, have a one-hand fold, since you can fold your stroller and hold your baby at the same time.
For decades parents have been flying with strollers, typically choosing the best lightweight umbrella stroller for air travel. Umbrella strollers are great for travel because aside from being fairly light, they fold up small and can be easily gate checked.
It’s recommended to get a gate check label as soon as you find your flight. You’ll have time to attach it to the stroller, so you’re ready to tuck it away as soon as you board. Sometimes the attendant at the gate doesn’t have the labels, so you have to step back and wait until you get one.
You can gate check a stroller as you’re boarding the plane. When it’s time to board the plane, you’ll fold up your stroller and leave it at the end of the jetway near the aircraft door.
The airline baggage handler will tuck all the gate checked strollers out of the way on the plane. When you land, most times you will pick up your stroller just moments after disembarking the plane – usually on the jet bridge.
However, gate checked strollers are not always returned at the gate at all airports. For example, when we flew from Calgary into Gatwick with a stroller and car seat, we gate checked the stroller and brought our car seat on the plane. We were surprised at arrival when our gate checked stroller was not returned to us at the gate and we had to carry our car seat all the way to the baggage carousel.
Protecting Your Stroller on Airplanes
Parents flying with a car seat and stroller want to be sure that they protect the items. These are expensive baby accessories, and you don’t want to bring such a bulky item with you just to have it break in transit, making it unusable for your trip.
We use and recommend you buy a travel bag for a stroller that help protect it when it is in with the checked baggage in the luggage hold. This type of bag can also help you get around the airport and your destination when you don’t want to push the stroller. Many have straps you can wear like a backpack, so your hands are free to hold your baby.
Another option is to wrap the stroller in plastic wrap or bubble wrap. It will protect the foam on the handles from ripping if it’s not handled carefully during loading and unloading.
You can also use zip ties to keep the stroller folded closed. If an attendant picks it up by the handles, there’s no risk of it unfolding and getting bent while they’re loading the checked luggage! We’ve seen a baggage handler pick up a stroller only to have it unfold. He had no idea how to get it folded, but another parent stepped in to help.
In some cases, the damage is inevitable when flying with a stroller. You should always take pictures of your stroller before you leave for a trip. That way, you have proof that it was in good condition before the flight. If it’s damaged in transit, you can file a claim, using the pictures as evidence that the airline caused the problem. Make sure to do this as soon as possible after your flight.
Taking a Stroller Through Airport Security
When taking a stroller through airport security, you can expect that all baby items (including strollers, umbrella strollers, baby carriers, car and booster seats and backpacks) will need to be screened by the X-ray.
All items in your stroller should be removed and put in your carry-on bag or in a tub to go through the X-Ray. You should fold the stroller and put it through the X-ray.
Typically, strollers that can not be folded and put through the X-ray machine will undergo a visual/physical inspection by security officers.
That being said, I always recommend asking as you enter security. It seems every airport wants things done differently, so rather than risk doing something wrong, just ask the security staff how they would like to handle your stroller as you approach the front of the line.
Compact Strollers for Airplanes
There have been significant improvements to travel strollers in the past few years. Umbrella strollers have often been the most lightweight to fly with, but they weren’t safe for newborns without a full recline.
You can now find umbrella strollers with a full recline, like the Maclaren Techno Arc. Even what is known as pocket strollers (strollers that are so compact they can fit in the overhead bin), are increasingly durable and have a decent incline.
A Travel System for Airplanes
You can also fly with a travel system, meaning you used a car seat and lightweight stroller for a flight. Your stroller is ideal for getting the car seat to the airplane, where you can use it on board (assuming you’ve purchased a seat for your baby or an extra seat is available). If you haven’t purchased a seat for your baby and are flying with a lap infant, you can gate check both your stroller and car seat.
Is it Free to Bring a Stroller on a Plane?
Parents not only wonder, “can I take a stroller on a plane?” but also need to know what fees this convenience might incur. With baggage costs always on the rise, it’s understandable to think you’ll have to pay a fee for flying with a car seat or stroller.
Thankfully, most airlines don’t charge parents to check a car seat or stroller, regardless of whether you check it as luggage or gate check it before boarding your flight. That said, some airlines have limits.
While many airlines allow you to check a car seat and stroller for free (in addition to your regular baggage), some only allow you to check one baby-related item for free. Some airlines consider the age of the child in relation to fees.
It’s always best to understand each airline’s policies, though. You can check online or call the airline with questions. You’ll find the policies for the four major US airlines below. We try to keep these as upto-date as possible, but policies can and do change, so also double-check your your airline before you go.
American Airlines Stroller Policy
American Airlines has extensive policies for adults traveling with children. Children younger than two can sit on the parent’s lap, but you need to note that when you book your ticket. Children over two need their own seats. If you’re bringing a car seat for the baby to stay in during the flight, you need to buy them their own seat for that, too.
You can bring one carry-on diaper bag per child on American Airlines. You can also check one stroller and one car seat for free. If your stroller weighs more than 20 pounds, you have to check them at the ticket counter. You can gate-check lightweight strollers.
It’s worth noting that on American Airlines you can only gate-check a stroller or car seat. If you’re traveling with both, you’ll have to make a decision before boarding. You can gate-check the stroller and use the car seat on the plane if you bought a ticket for your baby. If you didn’t buy a seat for your baby, you can gate-check the car seat and put the stroller in the overhead compartment if it fits.
Any other baby accessories, like playpens, cribs, or wagons, count as regular luggage. Depending on the other bags you’re bringing, you might have to pay additional fees for those items.
Delta Air Lines Stroller Policy
Delta’s stroller policy allows you to check strollers and car seats because they don’t count as baggage. Whether you check them at the curb, ticket counter, or gate, there’s no charge for these baby items.
You can bring the car seat onto the plane if you have a seat for your baby. You can bring a booster seat or bassinet as a carry-on item, in addition to your standard carry-on allowance.
The only reasons you’ll have to pay a fee for any children’s accessories are if they weigh over 50 pounds or are larger than 62 linear inches.
Southwest Stroller Policy
When you fly Southwest, their policy states that you can check a stroller and car seat with no additional fees. These accessories are in addition to your standard checked luggage allowance, so there are no restrictions. You can check the baby’s items at the curb, ticket counter, or gate without fees.
You can buy a reusable stroller bag at the ticket counter before your flight. The bag keeps your stroller clean and prevents extensive damage during the trip.
If your baby sits in your lap during the flight, you can’t bring an additional carry-on. A breast pump doesn’t count towards your carry-on limit, but there’s no allowance for diaper bags. Only children older than two can bring additional luggage and carry-on bags, since you’ve had to purchase them their own seat.
United Stroller Policy
United has a stroller policy that allows parents to bring strollers or folding wagons on the plane. You can bring one item of transportation per child traveling with you. There’s no charge to check these items. You need to check a large strollers or folding wagon (free of charge) at the ticket counter, but you can check other strollers at the gate.
When you buy a ticket, you’re allowed to bring a carry-on and personal item onto the plane. Traveling with a baby means you still have those two items, but you can also bring a diaper bag, breast pump, child seat, and stroller.
The stroller should fit in the overhead compartment, and you need to have purchased a ticket to use the car seat. If you’re not using the car seat during the flight, you can gate-check it.
Airline Stroller Policies
To find the stroller policy for the airline you are flying with, simply type one of these two Google searches “[your airline] traveling with children” or “[your airline] stroller policy“. For example: Lufthansa stroller policy or Air Canada traveling with children.
Make sure to ALWAYS go directly to your airlines website as opposed to another blog, since that’s the best way to ensure you are looking at UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION.
Here are links to airline stroller policies:
- Air Canada
- Alaska Airlines
- Spirit Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Allegiant Air
- Virgin Atlantic
- British Airways
Flying with a Double Stroller or Jogging Stroller
If you plan to fly with a double travel stroller or a jogging stroller, there’s a good chance you’ll need to check it with your luggage at the check-in counter. Airlines are not equipped to deal with double strollers and jogging strollers at the gate.
For example, the American Airlines stroller policy requires strollers heavier than 20 pounds to be checked with the luggage. Similarly, Air Canada’ stroller policy states that large heavy strollers need to be checked with baggage at the ticket counter. In addition “Large strollers are also subject to space limitations, and there is a risk that they cannot be accommodated in the aircraft.”
The Zoe Twin+ Stroller meets even these stringent requirements and you can read our full review!
Have a Great Trip!
Flying with a stroller doesn’t have to be a stressful situation. There are several options that allow you to bring a stroller on your trip, so you can decide which works best for your family. It’s always better to research your choices and talk with the airline before finalizing your trip.
Be prepared to check your stroller in any location or practice folding and lifting a carry-on stroller. The more comfortable you feel with the process, the less it will stress you out. You don’t want to miss out on a wonderful vacation just because you’re worried about the hassle of flying with a stroller!
Flying with Stroller FAQs
Can you bring a stroller on a plane?
Strollers that fold and meet carry-on size requirements can be taken on the airplane and stored in the overhead compartment or under the seat. Check the size for strollers that fit on airplanes for your airline by comparing the folded dimensions of your stroller to the carry-on size requirements.
What size of stroller can you take on a plane?
To bring a stroller on the plane, it must meet carry-on size requirements for that particular airline. You can gate check strollers, though some airlines have stroller policies that limit the size or weight of the stroller that can be gate checked. Large heavy strollers should be checked with luggage and may be subject to space availability on the aircraft.
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This post was written & edited by:
Celine Brewer is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's helped millions of new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade. In addition to writing on her baby travel blog, she has shared her expertise on traveling with a baby or toddler by contributing to articles about traveling with a baby with the Washington Post, USA Today, the Lonely Planet magazine and Pregnancy & Newborn magazine.
Celine also writes about family travel on the site FamilyCanTravel.com, which she co-owns with her husband. Being from the Canadian Rockies, she shares her passion about her home and travel to Banff National Park and area on their site TravelBanffCanada.com.