Gate checking strollers and car seats might be confusing to many parents.
You must be wondering: What should I do with the baby items, and what is the exact procedure for gate-checking car seats and strollers? However, the process is not as hard as it seems.
The guide below will help you to gate check stroller & car seat without pressure. So, fasten your seat belts - we're setting off!
How to Gate Check Your Stroller for the Best Traveling Experience? Helpful Tips & Tricks
What is a gate check?
For those flying with kids for the first time, the term "gate checking" is perplexing. Gate checking means your luggage (stroller or car seat) will be checked at the gate.
After you check your belongings at the main entrance, the staff passes the pram into the mainline flight. The gate agent gives you tags to attach to your pram. The process is beneficial to find your items easily after the landing. Finally, the gate agents return the personal items to you at the final destination.
With a gate-checked stroller, you can freely use the baby capsule at the airport. Of course, you can also take the baby items through the boarding gate.
How do you gate-check your strollers?
Generally, you can divide the pram checking process into two parts: Pre-flight and Post-flight.
1. Pre-flight (before the boarding) procedure
Before you board the plane, you should do the following:
2. Post-flight (after the boarding)
You’re on the plane with your child, but it’s time for landing! What should you do now? Below are helpful steps:
Extra tips for leaving kids’ gear on the jetway
Parents will find a small door leading to the outside. That's where the staff will come and pick up your child’s restraint systems.
Never lean the strollers and car seats against this door. Otherwise, your baby capsule will fall on the steps on the runway. Instead, you should lay the stroller or car seat to the side, and the agents will pick the items up.
Can you gate-check a booster seat?
Yes, you can. Booster seats are generally checked at the ticket counter. Place and wrap your booster car seat into a travel bag to protect the child's system from damage and dirt. You will make it easier for the baggage handler to get the car seat onto the plane.
When is gate checking a must?
If your travel cot weighs and exceeds the allowed dimensions, you must gate check the stroller. The stroller policies vary from one airline to another. You can find more information in the policy section below.
For instance, when your stroller doesn't meet the airline policy and cannot fit in the cabin, you will have to check it. In addition, if you have a low boarding priority and end up on a whole flight, you will need to check your luggage at the gate.
When can you bring your stroller into the cabin?
The procedures and details are not the same for every air service, so ensure you find the airline that best fits your needs. Again, you need to follow the policies of the chosen airlines and inspect all size, weight (and additional) requirements before boarding.
British Airways require a small, lightweight & fully collapsible pushchair in the cabin. It should not exceed 46 x 15 x 15 inches when collapsed. You can take the pushchair to the aircraft door and pick it up after landing.
Gate checking stroller vs baggage claim: is there any difference?
Yes, there is.
Firstly, a gate check implies checking your belongings for free, while the other option means you will have to pay extra money for your bags. For instance, Alaska Airlines has specific fees for checked bags, depending on their size, weight, and number.
Secondly, the process is much faster than regular bag checking, as the process is finished at the gate or ticket counter. Regular checking takes place at the departure gate before boarding the flight.
You will be less likely to lose or damage your kid’s gear. After you get a gate tag, your belongings go into the cargo area. On the contrary, baggage claims are more likely to lose or harm your items.
Before and during the pandemic, more than 2.3, that is, 1.6 million bags, were lost and damaged, as the Department of Transportation states. Although the numbers decreased during the pandemic, you don't want your pram harmed.
Parents will reduce the time it takes to find their lost luggage if they go with gate-checking. For instance, airlines need up to a week or even more to find lost baby bags, which was not the issue within 24 hours before the pandemic. So, gate-checking strollers and seats is always a great idea for parents and airlines.
However, parents may take about 10-15 minutes longer than usual. If you have a connecting flight, you don't want to risk losing your time and waiting for a stroller or a car seat to arrive on the jet bridge.
Help! My stroller is damaged! What shall I do?
The Department of Transportation issued a notice that airlines should be responsible for all damaged and lost luggage and compensate passengers. However, things aren't that perfect in reality.
Delta Airlines has a specific policy that they are not responsible for any damage concerning your luggage. What to do with such an issue? Here are some valuable tips:
1. Report the damage at the baggage claim immediately as soon as you notice a harm
2. Picture the stroller or car seat before and after your flight to have proof that the airline harmed your belongings
3. Fill out the requisite forms and send the official email if there's no other way to contact the persons in charge
4. Submit the proof of purchase, including the following items:
- Copy of your I.D.
- Notarized claim with a seal for claims $500.000 and higher
- The original proof of purchase for items higher than $50, indicating the value
- Completed customer property form
- Initial baggage claim check(s)
- Copy of flight itinerary
- Provide the claim 30 days after the official report.
Most airports tend to solve the issues. However, some parents still cannot do much except wait or purchase other strollers.
How to protect a stroller from damage and loss?
There are numerous ways to protect your pram when flying. Some of them include:
1. Using an appropriate stroller bag - you can opt for the J.L. stroller bag and find it on Amazon, among other valuable bags. This one is popular for its bright red color. But, when opting for the stroller bag, ensure the item is:
- Stroller fitting
- Durable and quality padded bags are always better for additional protection.
- Has a lock, so it cannot open so easily
- The bright color makes it easier for the ground staff to find the baby pram.
2. Using a lightweight stroller to bring onto the plane next to you.
3. Wrapping/bandaging the handles to prevent the cracks while folded and tossed into the cargo
4. Using tape or bubbling wrap to keep all angles and the wholesome construction protected
5. Applying plastic wrap at the airport
6. Applying zip ties to stay collapsed
7. Getting a second child pram for traveling
8. Using the airport stroller
9. Using pool noodles for extra protection
10. Removing accessories to protect them
11. Keeping a baby capsule in the box
How do I gate-check with more kids?
You can gate-check regularly with more kids (two, three children, four, etc.) and use the appropriate stroller or car seat based on their ages.
You can check one stroller and one car seat per child for free if you travel with Spirit Airlines. You can also bring and check your double stroller when traveling with twins or two children with the age gap.
You have to bring and check a car seat and a stroller for kids under two. Your seats must be FAA approved. You must pay a ticket and reserve a seat for other kids who are two or older (regardless of how many).
Gate Checking Stroller Policies
Although some airlines have almost similar policies, such as Spirit or Virgin Atlantic, there are numerous policies that are different for each air service. Since the article isn't spaced enough to list each airline, we’ve selected ten favorite airlines of 2021, as voted by US citizens.
Let’s go into each airline & see what’s different.
1. Air Canada
Air Canada strongly urges the use of a minor, collapsible umbrella stroller. Dimensions should not exceed 10 x 36 inches in diameter and length. The pushchair is checked at the gate and delivered to you after the landing.
Heavier strollers also need a check-in and will be part of your checked baggage, with maximum bags allowed by your fare type. Larger strollers might not be accepted due to space limitations.
2. Air France
Air France allows you to transport a car seat and a foldable stroller with no additional charge. Depending on the space availability, you may/may not take your stroller into the cabin.
The proportions should not exceed 5.9 x 11.8 x 39.4 inches for small foldable strollers. Regarding other foldable prams, proportions should not exceed 21.7 x 13.8 x 9.8 inches.
You must pack the pushchair into a stroller bag to protect it from damage.
3. Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines permits you to bring one car seat and pram, checked free of charge as checked baggage. You can check the units with other luggage as well. To carry the baby system into the cabin, enough space must be available.
American Airlines checks one stroller and one car seat free of charge. You can check only one baby item at the gate if you have a car seat and a pram. Strollers bigger than 20 pounds are checked at the gate.
If you have a double stroller weighing more than 20 pounds, you should contact the officials and airport security to ask for assistance.
5. British Airways
British Airways states that when collapsed, your pram must be of/less than 46 x 15 x 15 inches. You can carry it into the cabin of the plane.
All other multi-piece pushchairs, double strollers, and similar units will be collected at the baggage carousel in the baggage hall.
6. Delta Airlines
Delta Airlines allows a car seat, stroller, and similar restraint systems. They are not part of the standard baggage. You can check them at the gate, curb or counter. There are no fees for checking.
JetBlue will free-check your car seat, stroller, and similar systems. The units don't count as baggage check at the check-in counter.
8. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
KLM allows one car seat/pram per child. You will check in the items with no extra charge. The luggage will be put on hold. Use a protective stroller bag or similar car to protect your belongings.
Southwest permits one car seat and stroller per kid at no charge, in addition to the normal bag allowance. An optional Southwest travel bag is available for $17 to cover your pushchair.
The policy won't be responsible for any stroller damage.
10. United Airlines
- 9 x 14 x 22 inches, or
- 9 x 10 x 17 inches.
You can also carry breast milk, a diaper bag, a pump, and other personal items in the carry bag. The airline won't reserve a place for your own seat unless you buy a ticket. The rule considers children over two with an extra seat and a ticketed adult fare.
International Air Travel: What Are the Conditions?
If you travel internationally, you should know a few things in advance.
Gate agents will collect all gate-checked pushchairs and pile them up by the door. Crew members will take the pile down ahead of time. Other agents will require you to drop your stroller off at the jetway.
Sometimes you will have to place your stroller and car seat into the cargo, which is different from your airline's policy. The conditions are different, so please, follow the rules to embark on the plane. You can find more information here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does it cost money to check strollers at the gate?
No, most airlines will gate check your stroller and car seat free of charge, depending on their policies. However, you may have to pay for additional seats, so read the information thoroughly for your chosen airline.
What strollers can you gate check?
You can gate check numerous stroller types (single, double, collapsible, non-collapsible, jogging, umbrella, etc.) free of charge. You can check the units at the gate, ticket counters, or curbside.
Those within the allowed proportions will go through the x-ray machine; other prams will be checked manually. Smaller stroller types will fit the airplane cabins, but larger, non-collapsible ones will go in the cargo.
Can I gate-check a stroller without a child?
Yes, you can, but you must pay an extra fee. Most airlines allow you to gate-check your prams when you travel with a child.
Do you need a stroller in a bag for gate check?
No, you don't have to use a travel bag for gate-checking. But, it would be best to use one since it will protect your stroller from loss or damage during the trip. Also, if you don't have insurance for your stroller, the bag is the best way to protect it.
How do you go through airport security with a stroller?
For scanning, you will place the carry-on baggage (blankets, bags, and toys) on the X-ray belt. The machine must also screen your car seat, stroller, baby carrier, and backpack. The same goes for your belongings.
A stroller, seat, and similar restraint systems must go through the gate check before boarding the airplane.
What to do when an airline loses your stroller?
Hopefully, the guide helped you learn crucial things concerning the gate check stroller. However, it would be best to refer to each policy in advance and avoid complications. If you can, always use a small collapsible stroller to easily gate-check them.
You can also place them in airplane cabins, fit rental cars, and easily transport them according to your needs. Lastly, bring kids to your next trip for the ultimate fun!