Parenthood comes with a lot of questions, especially when you travel. At the top of the list– is what do I pack? How do I gate check a stroller or car seat on a plane when traveling with baby? You have to bring the car seat and stroller, but what do you do with it? Many parents choose to gate check a car seat and stroller gate check so they know they will have it as soon as they land.
Having the opportunity to put down that baby you just carried through the flight is a leap of joy for your tired arms. It’s not that hard to figure out how to check your gear. However, if you have never done it before, you may not know what to do.
Here’s a quick guide to make you look like a pro, whether it is your first time flying with a baby, or you are just bringing baby travel gear with you for the first time.
Get a tag for your stroller and car seat
Gate checked strollers and car seats need to get tagged to their final destination.
This is not as complicated (at most airports in the U.S.) as checking your car seat and stroller, as it is generally just a tag the gate agent hand writes your seat number and flight information onto. You then loop the tag onto your car seat and stroller. Done.
Drop off your stroller and car seat
Your items are now tagged and you are called to board. You will drop your car seat and/or stroller at the bottom of the jet way.
There is a little door leading to the outside. That is where the loading crew will come through to grab your baby gear and other passengers’ roller board suitcases that couldn’t fit in the overhead.
Do not lean your stroller or car seat against this door. You don’t want it falling down the steps onto the runway. Simply lay your car seat and stroller to the side and they will be picked up.
Pick up your stroller and car seat
Just as you dropped off your stroller and/or car seat at the jet way, so will you find it there when you disembark your flight.
Wait to the side if you do not see your gate checked car seat and stroller. It may take a few minutes for them to get all of the strollers and car seats up the steps. Bad weather can add to that delay as well.
Once you have your gear, if you want to load your child into the stroller, please do your fellow passengers a favor. Either step aside so you aren’t blocking the path or wait until you are off the jet way to load your baby into the stroller.
International flight variables
International flights are when things can get screwy.
I once checked my stroller at the gate in Paris, after flying in from Madrid, and I was told that my stroller would be stowed and waiting with our checked bags in baggage claim at our final destination.
Some gate agents will take all of the strollers and pile them up by the door. A crew member will take the pile down ahead of time. Other agents will ask you to drop it off at the jet way.
When in doubt, ask the gate agent what you should do. If you don’t speak the native language, here is what you do. Simply look at the gate agent, point at your stroller, point at the plane and give the gate agent a shrug. More often than not this simple mime will get your point across and they will know what to do.
Do not get frustrated or angry if you are asked to check your items in the cargo hold. Every country has different rules for different reasons. As long as you and your child get on the flight, that is all that matters.
Folded carseat, window airport, infant, toddler, jetway, and gate agents via ShutterStock.com