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Flying With a Stroller

Figuring out airplane policies when it comes to baby equipment can be confusing! Flying with a stroller can seem intimidating, 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 strollers 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 it was consistent across all airports and airlines, but unfortunately that’s not the case.

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.

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 essentials.

baby in stroller in airport

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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.

It saves you the hassle of buying or renting a stroller 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.

woman pushing stroller at airport

You have a few options when preparing to take a stroller on a plane:

  1. Carrying Baby Stroller In-Flight

    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. You don’t have to worry about your travel stroller getting lost or damaged.
  2. Gate Check Stroller

    A gate checked stroller means you keep it with you up until you board the plane. 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 loads your stroller into the plane with the suitcases.

Before taking strollers on airplanes, you want to know as much as you can about the process so let’s review each of these different methods of  taking baby strollers on airplanes.

flying with a stroller (father pushing it in airport)

Putting a Carry-on Stroller in Overhead Compartment

Traveling with a stroller that fits in the overhead bin on the plane ensures that you’ll 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, since you can keep the 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, easy to fold and the folded dimensions meet the size requirements for storing the stroller in the overhead compartment on the airplane.

In the US, the standard domestic size for carry-on luggage is 22” x 14” x 9” where some might 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:

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 Iata: “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).

compact folding stroller Inglesina Quid fits in overhead bin on airplane

How To Check a Stroller

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.

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 checked baggage allowance.

flying with stroller and car seat

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: Your stroller may either be on the baggage carousel or at the oversized luggage counter. Most likely you’ll 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.

woman at departures with stroller - flying with a stroller

For parents planning to check their stroller at the ticket counter, you might want 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 hands free as you navigate security and 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. 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.

Strollers for traveling on airplanes are compact but still provide a comfortable seat for your baby. As a bonus, you don’t have to carry them, 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.

baby in stroller at airport

For decades parents have been flying with strollers, typically choosing the best lightweight umbrella stroller for air travel. Umbrella strollers are great 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.

stroller gate checked near airplane

The airline baggage handler will tuck all the strollers out of the way on the plane. When you land, most times you will pick up your stroller again at the gate.

However, strollers are not always returned at the gate at all airports. 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 the stroller was not returned to us at the gate and we had to carry our car seat all the way to the baggage carousel.

example of airport stroller
Example of what some Airport Strollers look like

Protecting a 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.

You can buy a travel bag for a stroller that will keep it from getting dirty while it’s in storage. 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.

You can 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 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. 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.

Inglesina Quid stroller that folds into a bag held by mother at airplane

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 how they would like to handle your stroller as you approach the front of the line.

couple in airport with woman pushing stroller

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 have a tri-fold so compact they can fit in the overhead bin on the airplane, are increasingly durable and have a decent incline.

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 stroller and carseat both.

baby in front of stroller and car seat in airport

What’s the Cost to Take Baby Strollers on Airplanes?

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 on the rise, it’s understandable to think you’ll have to pay a fee for flying with a car seat or stroller.

Most airlines don’t charge parents to check a car seat or stroller, whether you check it as luggage at the ticket counter or wait until you’re at the gate. However, some airlines have limits. 

They might 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 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 airlines below!

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.

The airline allows one carry-on diaper bag per child. You can also check one stroller and one car seat for free. If strollers weigh more than 20 pounds, you have to check them at the ticket counter. You can gate-check lightweight strollers.

It’s worth noting that 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 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 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 luggage, 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 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) 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.

To find the stroller policy for the airline you are flying with, simply type one of these two google searches “[airline] traveling with children” or “[airline] stroller policy”. For example: Westjet stroller policy or Air Canada traveling with children.

Make sure to ALWAYS go directly to the 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:

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 at the counter. Airlines are not equipped to deal with double strollers and jogging strollers at the gate.

Like the American Airlines stroller policy above that 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.”

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 take stroller on airplane?

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 reuqirements.

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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Flying with a Stroller