How to Gate Check a Car Seat and Stroller when traveling with kids

 In Travel Tips

Parenthood comes with a lot of questions, especially when you travel, but none more so than what to pack and 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, but 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

Once your items are 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 them to the side and they will be picked up.

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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 when you first get off the plane. It may take a few minutes for them to get all of the strollers and car seats up the steps, especially if there is bad weather. 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 for a crew member to take down ahead of time, while others 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, 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.

gate check stroller

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Showing 10 comments
  • Eve

    I find that the tough part is explaining to a young flight attendant about how a rear facing car seat must be installed in the rear facing orientation when she insists otherwise…

  • Mattie

    What do you use to protect your car seat and stroller when you gate check it? Does it get banged up by the luggage guys? I am travelling soon and worried about our car seat and stroller getting damaged.

    • Keryn Means

      I use a carseat carrier and stroller carrier. JL Childress has a great one that is backpack style!

      • Rhea

        Are you able to put your car seat in a box for protection?

        • Keryn Means

          If you check it with your luggage you should be able to check it in a box, but call the airline to double check.

  • Mark

    Airlines refer to strollers, but never the bassinet part. We are travelling with our baby who uses the bassinet, not the seat. Does the bassinet stroller also travel for free? The frame collapses as well as the hood of the bassinet, but the bassinet itself does not collapse. Anyone have this issue?

    • Keryn Means

      Normally you can gate check this as well with no problem. IF you think it can fit in the overhead and is as small or smaller than a carry on suitcase, you could also ask if you can bring it as carry on luggage too.

  • Emily//umbrella strollers

    The greatest advantage of an umbrella stroller is that they can fold up very easily for storage and they are extremely light. So whether or not you’re keeping it stored around the house, or you’re outside pushing it around, it will not be a burden to you.
    Thanks for the amazing article.

  • sierra dallas

    As a parent, my first priority is to keep my kids safe.I have to travels a lot around the world with my a baby. Thanks for infant car seat travel bag ideas. It’s really essential for every mom to manage traveled with the baby and to feel comfortable and easier while traveling with the baby.

  • Margot Robbie

    Travel with baby really tough for me. I have to travel most of the time with baby. Infant car seat travel bags really help me to manage comfortable travel with baby. Thanks for sharing really nice ideas.

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