How to Protect Your Stroller When Flying – What is the Best Stroller Travel Bag?
If you have a baby or toddler, then a stroller or pushchair is obviously an essential bit of kit that needs to come with you. The good news is with standard economy fares, most airlines allow you take a stroller and a car seat per infant/child flying with you.
This is in addition to your normal baggage allowance and is for free. (For a more detailed look at what infant baggage allowance are, see the infographic at the end of this useful post on cabin sized strollers)
I have personally seen what can happen to bags and how travel strollers, pushchairs, buggies etc can be thrown around carelessly by some airport baggage handlers. My father used to see it all the time as an aircraft engineer too.
This guide will help you with tips on how you can protect your stroller when flying and give you suggestions for the best stroller travel bag for flying. There are lots of useful frequently asked questions and answers at the bottom of this post too.
Do you need a bag to gate check a stroller?
No, you don’t need a bag to gate check or protect your stroller or buggy (and many prams and pushchairs are transported from A to B quite safely), however, you may want one.
As mentioned above some baggage handlers can be quite rough, even with items that have a ‘fragile’ or ‘handle with care’. Whilst your stroller is likely covered by your travel insurance, it can take time organising a replacement which could restrict your movements and plans. (Tip: Take a photo of your car seat or stroller before your travel so you can show insurance companies the condition pre any damage.)
How can I help to protect my stroller when flying?
Using a stroller bag can mean you can store some extra items to help pad it out and offer some protection, like diapers/nappies, a cuddly toy, blanket etc. (This way, you get a little bit of extra baggage, but shhhh, keep that quiet!)
When you are traveling with a stroller, try and gate-check your stroller if possible. There are more people around, meaning more eyes to see that luggage is handled more delicately!
Why padded stroller travel bags are better
If you can find one, I recommend padded strollers bags for air travel, over just a normal bag. Although you could pad a jumbo laundry or storage bag with nappies/diapers like mentioned above, it would be tricky to cover the entire stroller. A non-padded stroller bag only really helps keep a pushchair clean, and keeps all parts together but offers little protection.
It is always worth asking around friends if they have one you can borrow, as it is not an item you will use frequently. Or look on Ebay for a second hand one, which is what I did for my first pram, a Bugaboo.
Some airlines can provide you with a strong plastic bag which can be used as a stroller airline bag or for other items. However, again they don’t really protect items, but do help keep them clean and all the parts together.
If you are looking for the best stroller travel bags, here are a few to look out for to buy or to see if you can find second-hand.
Zohzo Stroller Bag
The Zohzo Stroller bag is my top pick. It’s not padded, but it’s durable, water resistant and tear resistant. The big perk for me its reasonable price plus it is very roomy and can fit most single or double strollers in and often a car seat too – although be mindful of making the bag too heavy. This gate check bag for strollers has a shoulder carry strap to help with moving it around too. For more information and latest prices see here.
Measurements: 41 x 21 x 13.5 inches
- Pros – the most durable of the bunch.
- Cons – Black material so harder to spot or for baggage handler to realise it is a fragile item.
Volkgo Stroller bag
The Volkgo Stroller bag is a familiar stroller bag shape, but with backpack straps and more durable than a basic bag. It’s not padded and is very large – so may not be accepted by some airlines for gate-check. It will fit most doubles and jogger style strollers. For more information and latest prices see here.
Measurements: 47″ tall, by 24″ wide, by 18″ deep.
- Pros – More durable than other bags, has backpack straps
- Cons – More expensive than the basic bags and black, so harder for baggage handles to realise its a fragile item
Compono Stroller Travel Bag
The Compono stroller travel bag is a bit pricier than the ones above but it claims to be made of ‘extra strong and durable nylon’. It is also HUGE. The bright red color is a bonus as is the clear ‘fragile’ label. This stroller airplane bag comes with a padded adjustable shoulder sling strap .For latest prices and more information see here.
Measurements: 48″ tall, by 25″ wide, by 19″ deep
- Pros – More durable and larger than other bags, has backpack straps, bright red and noticeable.
- Cons – Currently, the most expensive of the bags listed here.
FAQ about taking a stroller on a flight
Can you take a stroller on a plane?
Yes you can. Normally you have two options, to check in the stroller or pram at check-in or bag drop along with your normal luggage. You may have to go to the oversize baggage counter to do this. Or if you need the stroller around the airport, then you have the option to ‘gate-check’ your stroller.
Gate – check means, handing your stroller (or car seat) to airline staff as you are about to board the plane. (It will have been tagged at the main check in area.)
Sometimes, this is done at the gate lounge, at other airports you hand it in just as you go down the jetty and are literally about to step on the aircraft.
If you have a cabin sized stroller which fits your airlines carry on dimensions and your allowance, you can bring this onboard and stow it in the overhead locker or bin above your seat.
Can you check a stroller and car seat at the gate?
Yes, you can. However, if you are not using your car seat, it is easier to check it in with your luggage, so you have less to carry. It is up to you.
How do you gate check a stroller?
When you check in your suitcases and other luggage, the check-in staff will pop a tag around your stroller. Then you proceed through security as normal. If you stroller is large and won’t fit through the x-ray machine, it will be manually examined.
Once at your gate, your stroller will either be taken from you at the gate lounge or on the jetty/airbridge as you board the plane.
You normally pick up your pushchair where you pick up your other luggage, or at the oversized baggage belt.
Some airports (depending on their policy, not the airlines) will deliver strollers to the aircraft door or nearby if it is permitted.
Check with the ground staff on arrival as you exit the plane to verify this, as it is unlikely the flight attendants will know every airports policy unless it is their home base.
Do airlines charge for strollers?
No, with standard economy fares, most airlines allow you take a stroller and a car seat per infant/child flying with you. Even on light fares, one item is permitted.
What size stroller can I take on a plane?
Any sized stroller can be checked in with the rest of your luggage. However, some airports have restrictions on the weight and size of strollers which can be gate-checked. For health and safety reasons, as these would be manually loaded. Check with your departure and arrival airport on their website. For example this is American Airlines stroller policy which follows the FAA advice.
Can you take a stroller through airport security?
Yes you can. If you stroller is large and won’t fit through the x-ray machine, it will be manually examined.
Do let me know if you have any more questions about travel stroller bags below.