Traveling with babies and toddlers is a feat, especially when there's a stroller involved. The mere thought of packing such a colossal piece of equipment is daunting, but it's a rite of passage that every traveling parent must endure. Once you actually complete your first flight with a stroller in tow, though, you'll realize it's really no big deal.
Checking Your Stroller
Consider your stroller just an additional piece of luggage. As with anything you bring, you'll decide whether to check it or to carry it onto the plane. Note that large collapsible strollers and types that don't fold are typically only accepted as checked luggage, so it's best to call your airline if you're unsure. If you decide to check your stroller, ask the ticketing agent for a plastic bag to keep it clean while it's in the cargo hold.
Getting Your Stroller Through Security
You'll be expected to put your stroller through the X-ray machine at the airport security screening checkpoint, so you should remove your kid and fold it up before it's your turn because we all know the TSA line is stressful as it is. If you're lucky, your airport will have a designated line for families to eliminate some of the pressure from the process.
Checking Your Stroller at the Gate
If you think your stroller is too big to fit in the overhead bin, you'll probably want to check it at the gate. Airlines offer early boarding for those who require assistance or are traveling with young children, so try to arrive before the pre-boarding time. This gives the airline ample time to load strollers that have been tagged and left to be checked on the jet bridge.
It also gives parents extra time to get their youngsters settled in before the rest of the passengers board the flight. After the flight lands, strollers are brought back up to the jet bridge where passengers can simply scoop them up as they depart from the aircraft.
Storing Your Stroller on the Aircraft
If your stroller is small enough and the flight isn't full, you just might be able to carry it on the plane with you. In that case, you'll store it in the overhead bin with the rest of the carry-on luggage. This allows parents to have easy access to the stroller and not have to wait for it after leaving their flight. It can also reduce the chances of it getting lost during a transfer to another flight.
Transferring Your Stroller to a Connecting Flight
Speaking of transferring flights: Making a connection can be tricky when you're traveling with a stroller. Typically, the tags that you fill out for checking a stroller at the gate provide extra room where you may write the number of your next flight. Some may avoid this process due to the risk of it getting lost (especially if your layover is especially short). You may also pick it up and check it at the next gate yourself.
Collecting Your Stroller at Baggage Claim
If you checked your back with the ticketing agent, expect to collect it at baggage claim, per usual. If it's large, keep in mind that it might come out in the oversized luggage area.