You’re all set – you’ve bought a lightweight stroller for your overseas adventures and you’ve decided to take your infant car seat. Now what?
At the airport
Strollers: You will usually be given a luggage tag for your stroller at check-in and you can then use it as normal until you get to the gate – although you may need to collapse it for a security check. If you have a big travel system e.g. the Bugaboo Chameleon, you might have to take the wheels off to collapse through security, so make sure you know how to do this!
Car seats: In most cases you will check your car seat in with your luggage. Some airlines may allow you to use your car seat on board if you have purchased a seat for your child, however this is not a standard policy, so make sure you have checked with your specific airline.
How do I protect my stroller if it’s being checked in?
Quite a few airlines will provide you with a clear plastic bag to place your stroller in when you are at the gate or at check-in. If your airline doesn’t provide this, you can buy special protective cases or bags to protect it while it is in the hold, although remember that this is one more item you’ll have to lug around the airport with you! I have also seen people using bin liners, which – although they aren’t very robust – do at least add a small layer of protection!
How do I protect my car seat if it’s being checked in?
Make sure you protect your car seat in a sturdy bag to avoid any damage. You can often get away with slipping some extra items in there too if you are worried about your weight allowance!
What if I have to check my stroller in? Then what can I do?
Be prepared for this, as some airports might insist that you check your stroller in rather than taking it all the way to the gate. Heathrow Terminal 1 will only allow small strollers to be taken through, while at Stockholm Arlanda for example, all strollers must be checked in, but they do provide you with a basic small pushchair (although be aware that these standard models aren’t usually great for newborns with no head control, and there is rarely space for storage).
What happens if I’m a transit passenger?
When you check-in, ask whether you might be able to get your stroller back in between flights. The likelihood is that you won’t, (unless for example, you’re in Business Class and you’ve taken it onboard), and you therefore won’t see it again until the baggage carousel at your final destination. In this case, you might find a baby carrier useful, or alternatively ride-on luggage such as a Trunki that your child can sit on.
Where will I get my stroller returned to me?
There is no firm rule on this and you might find what actually happens is different to what you were originally told! If you hand your stroller in at check-in, the likelihood is that you will receive it at the baggage carousel. If you take it with you to the boarding gate, in most cases it is handed back to you when you disembark the plane, with the exception of the US where for Health & Safety reasons, it often goes to the baggage carousel. Remember to ask the cabin crew exactly where to go, for example the aircraft door or the terminal building. And on this note… be prepared for a wait! Your stroller might come within minutes or up to half an hour.
At the gate it’s always worth asking if they can stow your stroller onboard for you rather than placing it in the hold, as that way you will definitely get it as you disembark the plane. I’d also recommend that you take a baby carrier to use after you’ve handed your buggy in.