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Gate Checking a Stroller: A Step-by-Step Guide

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How To Gate Check A Stroller

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Gate checking a stroller can be a convenient option when traveling with young children, as it allows you to have a stroller available for use at your destination without having to carry it on the plane.

However, it’s important to know how to properly gate check a stroller to ensure it arrives safely at your destination.

In this article, we will provide a step-by-step guide on how to gate check a stroller, as well as some tips and considerations to keep in mind.

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or planning your first trip with a stroller, this guide will help you navigate the process of gate checking a stroller with confidence.

How To Gate Check A Stroller

What does gate check mean?

Gate checking is a process that enables travelers to check certain items at the gate rather than at the main baggage counter. This is typically offered for larger items that do not fit in the overhead compartment, such as strollers, car seats, and mobility devices.

When an item is gate checked, the traveler hands it over to an airline employee at the gate or boarding area, who then places it on the plane in a designated area. The item is then retrieved at the baggage claim area upon arrival at the destination.

One advantage of gate checking items is that it allows travelers to keep them with them to use until they board the plane, which can be especially convenient when traveling with young children or mobility-impaired individuals.

However, it’s important to note that gate checking items does come with certain risks. There is a chance that the item could be damaged during transport but this risk is probaby lower than if checking the item. To minimize these risks, travelers can consider purchasing a gate check bag specifically designed to protect the item during transport.

Overall, gate checking is a convenient option for travelers who need to bring larger items on their flight but do not want to carry them on the plane (or they are too large to be stored inside the cabin).

Just be sure to check your airline’s rules and guidelines for gate checking items, and consider using a gate check bag to provide extra protection for your belongings.

how to check a stroller at the gate

Step by step guide to gate checking a stroller

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to gate check a stroller:

  1. Choose a stroller that is easy to fold and has a secure lock when collapsed. Most airlines have size restrictions for gate-checked items, so it’s important to choose a stroller that meets the requirements.
  2. Pack any loose items that may be attached to the stroller in your carry on bag.
  3. Collapse the stroller and make sure it is securely locked. If possible, lock the wheels to prevent the stroller from accidentally opening during transport.
  4. Find the gate check area at your departure airport. This is usually located just before you enter the aircraft in the boarding area.
  5. Hand the stroller to a gate agent or airline employee. They will give you a gate check tag to attach to the stroller. Make sure the tag is securely attached and visible.
  6. Board the plane with your carry-on luggage and any other items you will need during the flight – and don’t forget your child!
  7. Upon arrival at your destination, your stroller will often be just outside the aircraft door as you leave. In some cases, you will have to retrieve your stroller at the baggage claim area (which is inconvenient as your child will then need to walk or be carried to the baggage hall).
gate check stroller

When my son was young my wife and I always gate checked his stroller. We actually bought a lightweight stroller specifically for flying, rather than taking the normal stroller we used at home.

Actually, it was so light, and folded so compactly, that if gate checking wasn’t available we could carry it on board and place it in an overhead bin.

Many airports require a long walk to reach the departure gate so it was so much easier being able to push him through the airport rather than making him walk or having to carry him.

It was also good if there was a long flight delay as he would fall asleep quite happily in his stroller.

Airline stroller gate check policies

AirlinePolicy
United AirlinesStandard strollers, folding wagons, and car seats can be used to get to your gate and then checked for free. They’ll be returned to you on arrival. Collapsible strollers can be stored in-cabin.
Delta AirlinesChildren’s strollers and child safety seats are not counted as part of the standard baggage and therefore can be easily checked for free. For your convenience, these items may be checked at the curbside, the ticket counter or at the gate. 
Southwest AirlinesCustomers may check the stroller and car seat at the curb, ticket counter, or gate. If you opt to gate check, you’ll need to get tags from an Agent at the Customer Service desk working your gate.
Frontier AirlinesYou can bring a stroller, but once you take it to the gate, it must be checked from there. The stroller will be checked in free of charge.
American AirlinesEach ticketed customer is allowed 1 stroller and 1 car seat to be checked free of charge. Strollers over 20 lbs / 9 kgs must be checked at the ticket counter. All other strollers should be checked at the gate before boarding. If you have a stroller and a car seat only 1 can be checked at the gate
Alaska AirlinesWe 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.
Hawaiian AirlinesStrollers and car seats are carried free of charge. You can check these in or you may also check these items at the gate using a claim-at-gate tag. Your stroller must be checked-in if it is non-collapsible or if it weighs over 50 lbs

Do you need a stroller bag to gate check?

While it is not strictly necessary to use a stroller bag when gate checking a stroller, it can provide an extra layer of protection to help ensure your stroller arrives at your destination in the same condition it left in.

Stroller bags are designed specifically to protect strollers during transport and are made of sturdy, durable materials such as nylon or polyester. They are usually padded to help protect against bumps and scratches, and some even have reinforced corners for extra protection.

Using a stroller bag can also make it easier to identify your stroller at the baggage claim area, as the bag will usually have a clear window or label displaying your name and contact information. This can be especially helpful if you are traveling to a busy airport or if you have a stroller that looks similar to others.

One potential downside to using a stroller bag is that it is one more thing to carry, especially if you are already dealing with other luggage and children. However, many stroller bags have convenient features such as shoulder straps or handles to make them easier to carry.

J.L. Childress Gate Check Bag for Standard & Double Strollers

Ultimately, whether or not you need a stroller bag to gate check your stroller will depend on your personal preference and the specific needs of your trip. If you are concerned about protecting your stroller or need to gate check it frequently, a stroller bag may be a good investment.

However, if you only plan to gate check your stroller occasionally or are confident in its durability, you may decide to skip the stroller bag.

Can you gate check a double stroller?

Yes, it is generally possible to gate check a double stroller. However, it is important to check with the specific airline to confirm their policies on double strollers, as some may have size or weight restrictions.

Most airlines will allow double strollers to be gate checked, as long as they meet the size requirements for gate-checked items.

To gate check a double stroller, follow the same process as you would for a single stroller above.

Can you gate check a car seat and stroller? 

In many cases, it is possible to gate check both a car seat and stroller. However, it is important to check with your specific airline to confirm their policies on car seats and strollers, as some may have size or weight restrictions.

Most airlines will allow both car seats and strollers to be gate checked, as long as they meet the size requirements for gate-checked items.

See my article on how to pack a car seat for flying

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