As a mom who has flown over 100 times now with my toddler, I’ve traveled with a stroller my fair share. When it comes to gate checking strollers, what are the different airline policies, and what are the things to know about getting through the airport with them?
Based on my firsthand knowledge and friend’s experiences, here’s everything you should know about gate checking strollers at the airport with every major airline:
Which Strollers Can be Gate Checked?
Can you travel with any kind of stroller? Sure, but whether or not you can bring it all the way to the gate depends.
Almost every airline I’ve encountered will check a stroller (and a car seat in a travel bag) free of charge, provided that it’s under certain dimensions. This includes most strollers but if you are traveling with an exceptionally large wagon, you may have to pay to check it.
Generally if your stroller can fold down and is below the airline’s weight limits, you can gate check it. That said, I highly recommend buying a bag for it, which some airlines require, so that it’s less likely to get beat up. This is one of the reasons why we travel with a stroller that we can bring onboard with us and leave the jogging stroller and larger Nuna Mixx at home.
Where you pick up the stroller will depend on the airline. Some will bring it back to the jet bridge, while others will send it to baggage claim (see the requirements for each airline below).
Keep in mind that you’ll need to fit this stroller through the metal detector and ideally on the conveyor belt. If it doesn’t fold up small enough to be scanned with carry-on baggage, you’ll need time for extra checks. Read more about getting through TSA with a baby here.
Strollers that Fit in the Overhead Bin
If you peruse any internet forums, you’ll see a sea of parents urging each other to get a travel-specific stroller, particularly a stroller that can fit in the overhead bin of an airplane. Why? Because checked baggage gets beat up. Things get literally thrown onto the conveyer belt, tumbling down on their way back to you after the flight.
In the name of research, I’ve tested out the GB lineup, Ergobaby Metro +, Babyzen Yoyo2, Joolz Aer, and our writer Christy owns and loves the UppaBaby Minu. Out of all of these, the Ergobaby and Babyzen have reliably fit into the bin and down the aisles even on smaller planes.
While none of these are perfect, particularly since a travel stroller’s wheels and storage will leave much to be desired, it has saved us from missing flights on tight connections when we didn’t have time to wait for gate checked items, and has helped us avoid broken strollers. I also can’t imagine traveling without a stroller I can wheel onto the plane when flying solo with my baby.
This way, we also don’t risk having the stroller sent all the way to baggage claim and having to carry our son all the way there after the flight. Thus far, as long as the stroller has been within the measurement limits we’ve been able to carry it on every time without issue.
But if you really don’t want to buy another stroller — and I can’t blame you — read on for the gate check policies for each major airline.
Air Canada Stroller Gate Check Policies:
According to their website:
“Small strollers – with a collapsed diameter not exceeding 25.5 cm (10 in) and a length not exceeding 92 cm (36 in) – can be checked free of charge at the baggage counter or at the boarding gate. When accepted at the baggage counter, your stroller is delivered to the arrivals baggage hall at your final destination. When accepted at the boarding gate, it is delivered to you at the aircraft door at every point in your journey.
Large heavy strollers can only be checked at the baggage counter because gate facilities in airports are not designed to accommodate them. Additional baggage fees do not apply. Large strollers are also subject to space limitations, and there is a risk that they cannot be accommodated in the aircraft.”
Air France Stroller Gate Check Policies:
According to their website:
“You can transport a foldable stroller and car seat in the hold at no extra charge. Some strollers may be accepted in the cabin, subject to space availability. Depending on the type of stroller, the following size limits apply.
- Small foldable stroller:* dimensions cannot exceed 15 cm x 30 cm x 100 cm / 5.9 in x 11.8 in x 39.4 in
- Other foldable stroller: this replaces your child’s hand baggage allowance and once folded, its dimensions cannot exceed 55 cm x 35 cm x 25 cm / 21.7 in x 13.8 in x 9.8 in.”
- Carrying cases required.
Air New Zealand Stroller Gate Check Policies:
“You can bring a small, single stroller all the way on to the aircraft if ALL of the following conditions are met:
- you’re flying internationally, or within New Zealand on 777-300, 787-9, A320 or A321 aircraft (this service is not available on our regional routes with turbo-prop aircraft)
- the stroller is completely collapsible and fits in the overhead locker.
- If the flight is full, we may ask you to check your stroller in at the gate.
- Prams, three-wheeled buggies and large or double strollers don’t fit in the overhead locker. Please check these in as baggage on all flights.”
Alaska Airlines Stroller Gate Check Policies:
“We will transport your child’s car seat and stroller free of charge as checked baggage. You can check these items with your other baggage, or wait until you reach the gate area.
This also applies to stroller-wagons that are designed for, and actively used for, carrying children and are collapsible to under 90 linear inches and 35 pounds. Standard bag fees/rules apply to larger wagons, those not designed to carry children, or those carried in addition to a stroller.”
Read all about my experience flying on Alaska Airlines with a baby here.
American Airlines Stroller Gate Check Policies:
American Airlines is one of few airlines that clearly will only allow a car seat OR stroller to be gate checked, which eliminates most travel systems that include both, unless you opt to get your infant their own seat and bring your FAA-approved car seat onboard. This would enable you to bring an UPPAbaby Vista travel system all the way, for example.
Strollers over 20 lbs / 9 kgs must be checked at the ticket counter. Read my flying with a baby on American Airlines review for more info.
British Airways Stroller Gate Check Policies:
“If you have a small, fully collapsible and lightweight pushchair/stroller (with maximum dimensions of 117cm x 38cm x 38cm/46in x 15in x 15in when the pushchair is collapsed), you will qualify to take this right to the aircraft door and collect at the aircraft door at most airports.
Please arrive at your departure gate no later than 45 minutes before departure time, and prepare to pre-board the aircraft.
The staff will put your pushchair into the hold and will do all possible to return it to you at the aircraft door.
All other, larger pushchairs, including double and multi-piece pushchairs can be taken to the departure gate, however, on arrival you must pick up these larger pushchairs at the baggage carousel in the baggage hall.”
Delta Airlines Stroller Gate Check Policies:
While Delta’s website isn’t super clear about weight or size limits, you can ask at the check-in counter about taking your stroller all the way to the gate. Generally, I’ve found Delta to be a decent airline to fly with a baby.
Emirates Stroller Gate Check Policies:
Emirates is a wonderful airline to fly with a baby and has some of the most generous policies around, including making airplane bassinets easy to get for parents by specifically reserving those seats. While I don’t see specific policies outlined on their website regarding strollers, we’ve always been able to bring ours onboard. they do have free strollers for use in terminals in Dubai.
Jet Blue Stroller Gate Check Policy:
“JetBlue will courtesy gate-check any of the following: strollers, car seats, child carriers/backpack carriers, booster seats, wheelchairs, walkers, canes, or crutches. If you chose to check any of these items (at the check-in counter or gate-check), it will not count as one of your checked bags. There is no fee assessed. There is no limit to the number of assistive devices a customer may transport as carry-on or checked baggage, within reason.
Additionally, this courtesy is extended regardless of whether the customer is traveling with the infant/child or is meeting the infant/child at their destination.”
KLM Gate Stroller Gate Check Policy:
“On all KLM flights, you can take one collapsible stroller/buggy per child. You can check in the stroller/buggy as hold baggage at no extra charge or hand it in at the gate so it can be put in the hold. The stroller must have a protective cover, but it may not contain any additional baggage.”
Lufthansa Stroller Gate Check Policy:
While they don’t mention size specifically, “you can keep your buggy or pram with you until just before boarding; it will be handed back to you immediately after landing.”
Qantas Stroller Gate Check Policy:
“To make your time on the ground easier, most mainline Australian ports have strollers. They are available for you to use once you have checked-in your own personal stroller. Staff will be on hand at the boarding gate ready to collect the stroller and to further assist you with pre-boarding the aircraft.”
Qatar Airlines Stroller Gate Check Policy:
While Qatar doesn’t specifically mention sizes on their website, they permit one stroller per child. We had a great experience flying with Qatar with our baby.
Singapore Airlines Stroller Gate Check Policy:
Singapore Airlines is another fantastic family friendly airline that also offers free strollers for rent at the Singapore Changi airport.
“You can carry a compact, foldable lightweight stroller on board the cabin. If you’re departing from Singapore, you’ll also enjoy an additional 6kg of cabin baggage allowance for breast milk, infant food, and baby amenities. If you’re departing from or transiting through other countries, contact Singapore Airlines for the country-specific restrictions.
If you have a Scoot flight in your itinerary, please note that all Scoot flights will require the stroller to be checked.”
Southwest Airlines Stroller Gate Check Policy:
“The Customer may check the stroller and CRS or car seat at the curb, ticket counter, or gate. Southwest Airlines will not assume liability for damage to strollers, CRS’s or car seats.
An optional Southwest-branded reusable car seat/stroller bag is available. Purchase at any Southwest Airlines ticket counter for a $17 onetime fee. Bag dimensions are 42”X20.5X12.5”.
Read our experience traveling on Southwest with a baby here.
United Airlines Stroller Gate Check Policy:
“If requested by the customer, United can check strollers at the departure gate. Note: Wagons and similar products are not considered strollers. Customers who bring them to the airport will need to check them as part of their checked baggage allowance before passing through security.” Read more about our experience flying with United with a baby here.
Virgin Atlantic Stroller Gate Check Policy:
“You’re welcome to bring one fully collapsible pushchair and a car seat, in addition to your free checked baggage allowance.
Pushchairs can be checked in or used up until the boarding gate, after which they will be put in the hold. Once we land we’ll have your pushchair ready outside the aircraft doors, whenever possible. However, at some destinations you may have to reclaim it at the baggage hall, due to local customs restrictions.”
Final Thoughts on Gate Checking a Stroller
While virtually any airline will allow gate checking strollers, I still prefer to put mine in the overhead bin when possible. Though not every airline specifically addresses whether or not this is allowed, it’s rarely been a problem for us. When we can’t put it in the bin, gate checking has never been an issue.
If you don’t travel often, I don’t see the need to get a travel-specific stroller, but if you do, consider it so that your main squeeze doesn’t get too beat up on the journey. Otherwise, mitigate possible damage by getting a carrying bag. Bon voyage!