A mom always wants to enjoy her vacation and make sure she has everything she needs to keep baby happy. Flying adds a whole new layer of complexity to choosing your stroller. There are three options available when flying with a stroller, the decision basically depends on when you need it.
Overhead Storage – This is not the best option, but its always a mom’s first instinct. Gate checking is almost surely a better option. But if you really need quick access to your stroller before getting off the plane consider the basic $20 umbrella stroller or two if needed and link them together using stroller connectors (3 for $15) once you deplane. Umbrella strollers store easily in overhead for quick access but they will be one more thing to collect before exiting the plane. And prepare for a flight attendant to try to talk you into gate checking…
Gate Check – If you don’t have a tight layover–which nobody traveling with kids would plan anyway–your best option really is gate checking your stroller. This gives you access to it all the way to the plane door. Check with your airline for size constraints but they are generally very generous and I’ve never seen a scale or tape measure whipped out here. You may have to wait a few minutes for it to arrive at your next stop but its usually there wondering what took you so long. This is valet parking in the world of planes! Be sure to get a tag from your gate attendant for any gate checked items before you board. Fold it down and leave it before you enter the plane and workers will collect it and retrieve at your next stop.
Checked luggage – If you need the perfect stroller for tough terrain and you have no other considerations on size other than it won’t cost overage charges (or maybe you don’t care) you can check your stroller with your other luggage. You can still likely gate check this, but if you don’t need or want it during layovers go ahead and check it with your other luggage. Strollers don’t count as luggage on most airlines but check before you leave. You also don’t need a bag for it unless you want to protect it from handling scuffs.