Friday, September 16, 2011

Flying with kids: all about strollers

When you're traveling with a baby or young child, bringing a stroller can seem like a great idea. It can help out a lot: your child doesn't have to walk, which means you can get from gate A to gate B faster, and they might even fall asleep in the stroller, giving you a bit of a break and them some rest.

However, bringing a stroller on the plane does have some drawbacks. If you have to check your stroller with the luggage, it might get damaged (this is actually quite likely to happen), and you will have to wait for it to come out of the plane at your destination. Sometimes the airline will allow you to check a stroller at the gate, and will also bring it out for you at the gate when you arrive. Even with that help, it still means you have to wait around before heading off to your next flight or the luggage carousel.

When my kids were younger, my husband and I usually brought either a baby-carrier like the Snugli or Baby Bjorn when they were infants, or a back carrier when they were slightly bigger. These were allowed inside the cabin and when we needed to check the back carrier, it was a lot sturdier and less likely to be damaged than a large stroller. 

We did bring a stroller along on one of our long-haul flights. It was a collapsible umbrella stroller, and on some airlines we were allowed to bring it in the cabin and stow it in the overhead bin. On another airline, we had to check it at the gate. We decided it was not worth the trouble after that trip. Too much work and not enough use out of it.

Ultimately of course, deciding whether to bring a stroller or not comes down to both what your needs are and what you preference is.

My tips:
  • If you need the stroller to transport your infant or child quickly and comfortably at the airport, do consider the baby carrier option: it leaves your hands free and is a lot easier to handle on board and at the airport.
  • If you're bringing the stroller mainly to use at your destination, then consider other options such as renting a stroller when you arrive, or borrowing a stroller from friends and family. It saves you the hassle of dealing with a stroller before and after the flight and at the airport, and you won't risk the stroller getting damaged after it's checked in.
  • If you want to bring a stroller, bring the smallest kind of stroller you can get away with. Dealing with a collapsible umbrella stroller is definitely easier than a larger kind of stroller.
The policies and regulations for bringing a stroller on board vary from airline to airline. Here is the information provided by several airlines about bringing strollers on your flight:

KLM
If your child is under 2, you are allowed to bring a stroller on KLM flights:
For a child younger than two years of age who will be travelling on your lap, you are entitled to --- bring a small, completely collapsible baby stroller/pram. If the baby stroller will not fit under the seat or in the overhead baggage compartment, it can be checked into the hold at no extra charge. This baby stroller/pram may have a protective cover but if this protective cover contains any other items, it will be considered to be an extra piece of baggage.
Lufthansa

We offer you the opportunity of taking your baby's push chair right up to the aircraft door. Our flight attendants will then take it from you and hand it back to you immediately after landing.

British Airways
For children 2-11 years of age, BA's policy states that you can bring "one fully-collapsible pushchair (stroller) and one car seat", on top of the regular baggage allowance. For infants under age 2, you bring a stroller and car seat, but no other extra checked baggage.
Scandinavian Airlines
The airline counts strollers as "special baggage", and their site has this to say about bringing them on board:
When travelling with an infant (under 2 years old) you are always allowed to bring a stroller/pram free of charge as checked baggage. If possible, please separate the stroller/pram into two pieces. For protection we offer special plastic bags for your stroller/pram at check-in for EUR 5 (Free for  Economy Extra / Business). Keep in mind that no other objects than the stroller may be in the bags. You do not need to register your stroller/pram in your reservation before departure.
If space onboard your flight permits, you may occasionally bring a small “umbrella” stroller free of charge in the cabin. The “umbrella” stroller must not exceed the permitted cabin baggage maximum weight of 8 kg. Please note that this service cannot be guaranteed.
When there is not enough space onboard, we will collect your “umbrella” stroller at check-in, or at the gate, and check it in along with your other baggage. You will receive your “umbrella” stroller together with your other baggage upon arrival.
Delta
Children traveling on an international ticket that is 10% of the adult fare are allowed one checked bag up to 20lbs. (10kg) with a maximum outside dimension (length+width+height) of 45 inches, plus one checked fully collapsible stroller or push-chair.
And further:
Children’s strollers and seat restraints are not counted as part of the standard baggage and therefore can easily be checked for free. For your convenience these items may be checked at curbside, the ticket counter, or at the gate.

Air Canada
Air Canada strongly recommends the use of small collapsible umbrella type strollers ---
Small strollers
 A stroller with a collapsed diameter not exceeding 25.5 cm (10 in) and a length not exceeding 92 cm (36 in) is allowed, in addition to your carry-on allowance, regardless of destination. It can be checked at the gate to be delivered to you at the aircraft door at the end of your flight.
Large strollers
Because gate facilities in airports are not designed to accommodate them, large, heavy strollers will need to be checked in and will count as one piece of baggage toward the maximum number of checked bags allowed by your fare type. Large strollers are also subject to space limitations, and there is a risk that they cannot be accommodated in the aircraft.

Iceland Air
Infants not entitled to a seat shall be allowed 10 kg (22 lb) and in addition one checked or carry on fully collapsible stroller/pushchair or infants carrying basket.

Japan Airlines
You may use your baby stroller up to the boarding gate at some airports. Please ask the airport personnel if this is possible when you check-in.
  • * Space on board is limited, so checking-in your stroller is strongly encouraged. Checked  strollers will be returned to you as quickly as possible upon arrival.
    Please use the free baby stroller service provided by your departure airport. No reservation  is required. Please note that your request may not always be honored due to supply issues.
* The number is limited.
This service is available at the following airports in Japan and overseas:
Japan: Narita International, Kansai International, Chubu Centrair International and Komatsu.
Overseas: Frankfurt International (Germany), London Heathrow (UK), Indira Gandhi International (New Delhi, India) and Soekarno Hatta International (Jakarta, Indonesia)

Air France
Are you traveling with a child of at least 2 years of age? You can transport a foldable stroller (maximum size: 15 x 30 x 100 cm / 5.9 x 11.8 x 39.4 in.) in addition to your baggage allowance at no extra charge. This type of stroller is accepted in the cabin on long-haul flights*, as long as enough space is available in the overhead compartments.

Qantas
  • Domestic Flights
    Children up to 12 years of age, are permitted one car seat and one collapsible pram, stroller or push chair in addition to the checked baggage allowance.
  • International Flights
    Children receive the same baggage allowance as adults.

There is also some further information:
For tickets issued prior to 1 December 2010, adults accompanying infants are entitled to check in one additional infant item. This is in addition to the baggage allowance for adults. For tickets issued from 1 December 2010, adults accompanying infants are entitled to check in up to three infant items for each travelling infant. Infant items can include; collapsible stroller or push-chair, collapsible cot or bassinet; or car seat or baby capsule. Charges will apply for any baggage carried in addition to the checked baggage allowance and three infant items.

United Airlines
Strollers may be checked to your final destination without a fee, in addition to your normal baggage allowance.
Children can be transported in their strollers throughout the airport. However, strollers must be checked at the gate. No strollers of any size are permitted as carry-on baggage. Your child's stroller will be delivered to you at the aircraft door upon request at your connecting city or destination. Large-sized, non-collapsible strollers cannot be checked at the gate. Please see a United representative at the airport check-in counter to check your large-sized, non-collapsible stroller.

Continental Airlines
Continental accepts one stroller or one carseat in addition to a customer's baggage allowance. When checked as baggage, all oversize and overweight charges will apply. First and second bag fees do not apply to either a stroller or a car seat. Continental is not liable for damage to strollers. Excess Valuation may not be purchased for strollers.
Note: If you are traveling with a stroller and a carseat in addition to the baggage allowance, only one of these items is carried free of charge.
Infants traveling internationally on 10 percent of an adult fare will be granted a free baggage allowance of one stroller or one carseat and one other item (linear dimensions must not exceed 62 inches (157 cm) and weight must not exceed 50 lbs (23 kg). If the Infant's free baggage allowance is exceeded, the excess will become part of the fare paying adult's baggage allowance and all restrictions and excess charges will apply.

Finnair
Children's pushchairs are generally carried in the hold of the aircraft, along with other checked baggage. Some airports will allow the light, small-wheeled, folding umbrella type pushchairs to be taken to the departure gate, if necessary. At the departure gate, they must be handed over to ground personnel to be carried, preferably, in the hold of the aircraft. It is important to arrive at the departure gate in good time, so that the umbrella pushchair may be loaded into the hold on time. An umbrella pushchair is not automatically accepted for carriage in the cabin, as storage space is limited, especially when the flight is fully booked. At Helsinki Airport, pushchairs provided by Finavia may be borrowed to push children all the way to the departure gate.

American Airlines
If a seat is purchased for a child, the standard carry-on baggage and checked baggage allowance apply.

If a seat was not purchased for an infant, that infant does not have a carry-on or checked baggage allowance. However, the following items are allowed over and above the carry-on allowance for the adult traveling with an infant:

  • Approved safety seat for lap or ticketed child (may also be checked)
  • Umbrella stroller for lap or ticketed child (see details for stroller acceptance below)
  • Diaper bag for lap or ticketed child

When traveling internationally, infants without a seat but paying 10% of an adult fare are allowed one piece of checked baggage not to exceed 45in/115cms 50lbs/23kgs.
The most important information is contained in the "details for stroller acceptance" link, where you can read about the different rules for different kinds of strollers.


Air New Zealand
Infants are entitled to the same baggage allowance as the accompanying passenger, including car seats and strollers. Safety requirements mean that strollers must be stowed in the overhead lockers of the aircraft. If your stroller will not fit in an overhead locker, it will need to be checked-in with your other baggage. If the flight you are travelling on is full, airport staff may request that your stroller is checked-in.
On Air New Zealand Link aircraft there is very limited cabin stowage space so your stroller will need to be checked-in.
On Boeing 747, 777, 767, and 737 aircraft, strollers with a completely collapsible frame and seating will fit in the overhead lockers. Other strollers do not fit, including the three-wheeled 'jogger' style and those which do not fold inwards when collapsed.

Virgin Atlantic
Passengers travelling with infants or children can bring a fully collapsible pushchair or car seat, in addition to their free check in luggage allowance.

Infants too young for their own seat on the aircraft (travelling on the lap of a parent or carer) can have one piece of hold baggage weighing up to 23kg, and one piece of hand baggage weighing up to 6kg. We’re afraid we can’t allow extra baggage allowance to be purchased for infants.

Air China
Free checked baggage allowance for Infant Fare purchased at 10% of the Adult Fare:

  • Each passenger is allowed to check in up to 10 kg (22 lbs) of baggage for free.
  • If space permits and approval has been obtained from the chief steward, a collapsible pram or cradle may be permitted to be brought into the cabin.

Cathay Pacific
When you are travelling with a child or an infant, you may carry onboard the following item(s) free of charge:
  • an approved car safety seat,
  • a small bag of food and nappies (for consumption on the flight),
  • an umbrella type collapsible stroller (if cabin stowage is available).
Baby buggies must be checked in as hold baggage.  

Singapore Airlines
According to the airline's website, infants are allowed one piece of luggage, or 10 kg of luggage, depending on your destination. Also:
a fully collapsible stroller or pushchair, carry-cot and infant food items may be  checked in without charge.

10 comments:

  1. Thanks SOOOO much for reminding me about rentals! We're leaving for a trip next week and I've been trying to find a cheap or used rocking chair to buy at our destination. I found a place that will rent us well, and I might as well rent a stroller at the same time :)

    Like you, I've been taking planes with my little guy using the ErgoBaby carrier since he was 3.5 months old. I pick up my carry-on, my luggage is on wheels and even when I'm by myself I can often move and get off the plane faster than many people. I have travelled with both a carrier and stroller, but it's really less trouble not to bother with the stroller and I don't get why more people don't give carriers a try.

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  2. I loved the carriers when the kids were little. And yea, rental strollers might be the best thing: I know we used to borrow or rent one when we visited family in Sweden when the kids were smaller: just too much hassle (and risk of damage!) on a flight.

    Hope you have a fantastic trip! :)

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  3. I personally love having my stroller with me, even if it takes me a little longer to leave the plane. The baby is more comfortable, I can store more things in the stroller's compartments and you never know how long you'll be at the airport these days. The carrier is a good alternative depending on the age and temperament of your baby. Good luck those of you travelling with little ones.
    http://travellingwithkidstips.blogspot.com/2012/01/travelling-with-infant-tip-1-packing.html

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  4. It is totally a personal preference I believe. My kids did well in the carrier, and we liked that option, but it is not for everyone. On our latest flight, I saw a family with a toddler who were able to wheel her, sleeping, in her stroller all the way to their seat. Then the KLM staff took the stroller of to be checked at the gate. Definitely looked convenient!

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  5. Snugly or baby Bjorn is better than strollers are because it can be easily carried. Carrying baby strollers is prohibited at some places like airports etc. and it is dangerous also if surface is inclined.

    snuggle bags

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  6. What are you talking about, Joel? Prohibited and dangerous at airports? Yeah right..You can see plenty of strollers all over the place, at every European airport.
    We had our strollers in Germany, Hungary, Finland, Latvia, Serbia, Croatia, etc..no problems at all.
    All you need is a good stroller bag if you check it in. Otherwise most of the time they just take it at the gate and return it to you when leaving the plane, it already waits for you by the time you get out of the plane.
    We used the carrier (and btw, Baby Björn carriers are VERY bad for boys, there are much better out there) one time..never again..nightmare..son and I were sweating, then we had to take it off in Germany for control (mad..in Finland of course not, they are reasonable and normal people). Just too much hassle.
    In a stroller you can change your baby, etc..

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  7. Ideal for holidays, cosy toes/seat liner, basket and raincover are all included in the price. Read about PETITE STAR SWITCH TRAVEL SYSTEM and see our PUSHCHAIRS from our eBay store for more information.

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  8. I think jogging stroller is the best one and the most versatile for travels. Umbrella ones are not solid and can easily break... Also, not everywhere there's infrastructure for strollers, especially in developing countries... So you need something solid like Bob Sport Utility
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004DC9T8A/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B004DC9T8A&linkCode=as2&tag=thougpictuand-20

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  9. Baggage policy of Copa Airlines allows only one item either stroller or car seat free of charge in addition to your regular baggage (Charge less) if you are traveling with both in Airline Flights.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Baggage policy of Copa Airlines allows only one item either stroller or car seat free of charge in addition to your regular baggage (Charge less) if you are traveling with both in Airline Flights.

    ReplyDelete