Travelling with more than one infant or toddler is certainly not simple, a double stroller makes it somewhat easier. Airport security (and agencies that govern them like the TSA, EASA, and ASA) and certain airlines do add to the complexity though, due to security measures and luggage guidelines.
If you’re flying with two kids, you may already have a double stroller. So, can you use your double pushchair at the airport, in the terminals?
You’ll be glad to know that it is most often possible to take double strollers through airport security to gate-check at the boarding gate to your flight. However, depending on your stroller, the airport and your airline, you may have to check your double buggy at the Check-In counter. Let’s go through some basic guidelines to help you understand.
There are many different rules and regulations with various airlines that you will want to be sure to follow. Additionally, as security measures are increasingly tightened, it is important to do your research. Afterall, nobody wants to be holding up the security line. The more prepared you are prior to travel, the easier this segment of your trip can be.
- What are the Rules for Bringing Double Pushchairs?
- Know your Stoller’s Collapsed Size and Weight
- Be prepared and do your research
- What Does Security Do with Double Strollers?
- How to Gate-Check Your Double Stroller
- What are Various Airlines’ Rules Concerning Double Strollers?
- Tips on Flying with Double Strollers
What are the Rules for Bringing Double Pushchairs?
Although there are variations based on airport and airlines, there are also some general principles.
The good news is that most airports and airlines allow you to bring double buggies through to the boarding gate to gate-check. Often they can be checked for free, as part of your infants’ or children’s allowance. (If this is the case for your airline, you have a choice and will be allowed to check the double stroller at the check-in desk or at your boarding gate.)
Know your Stoller’s Collapsed Size and Weight
Before you travel, practice collapsing your pushchair.
Will you pack your collapsed stroller in a protective cover for transit? This is especially practical to make the package smaller, when you remove wheels.
Measure the height, length and width of the closed buggy at its tallest, longest and widest point.
Weight the empty pushchair (with its protective cover)
Make a note of these dimensions, somewhere you can easily reference them at the airport. I speak from experience, as I had been asked to give these on numerous occasions when we travelled with our, not-so-compact, double buggy, a Phil and Ted in-line stroller.
Be prepared and do your research
It is important to do your research beforehand about your specific flights so as to prevent any surprises, unnecessary stress and delays. Many times, airline guidelines are listed on their website, or you can email or call their customer services, if in doubt.
TIP: Our airlines sections gives links to many airlines’ family policies: Family Flight Advisor Airline Reviews
The stroller is generally not counted as standard baggage, but part of your infant’s or children’s travel allowance.
Some companies, such as American Airlines, have stricter rules than others. With AA will have to check a stroller over 9kg (20lb) at the Check- in counter, and will not be allowed to bring it to the gate. The vast majority of double strollers are affected by that rule, as they exceed the weight limit. This means that you will not be able to use your double stroller throughout the airport and will only be able to use it once you’ve picked up at luggage hall on arrival at your destination.
Irrespective of the airline guidelines online, or if you have any doubts because you have a bulky double stroller, it is always a good idea to check at the Check-in desk before you go through security.
The check-in desk will provide you with a luggage tag(s) to attach to your stroller to speed up the gate-check process later on. (A brownie point with fellow passengers.)
How many parts detach from your pushchair when folded?
If your stroller stores into 2 or more parts- e.g. one or both seats detach, when folding– then make sure you have a luggage tag for each part.
Note that, some airports also restrict the size and type of pushchairs you can take through security with you and this is most often related to their size.
Zurich Airport, for example, won’t allow any stroller to be gate checked that consists of 2 or more parts:
What Does Security Do with Double Strollers?
While it is generally possible to pass a double stroller through security, you need to expect that it won’t be quick and easy.
The double stroller, like all your items, will have to pass a security screening.
Your children and all the belongings in the stroller will need to be removed from the stroller in order to pass through security…even if the child is asleep.
TIP: Have a carry bag to put any loose items into
and a very simple ring sling – a pouch sling- will free up at least one hand
You will have to put the folded-down stroller onto the conveyor or push it through the detectors for inspection. The security agents will check your stroller for any dangerous materials similar to how they would inspect a wheelchair or other carrying mechanism.
A large stroller usually won’t fit on the conveyor belt or through the X-ray machine. If this is the case, then the security personnel will conduct a manual check.
This may significantly slow down your overall screening process.
TIP: Make sure you leave yourself a little extra time to account for this!
How to Gate-Check Your Double Stroller
Lots of international airports are large, with the distance from check-in to your gate quite long.
A double pushchair will both help and slow your progress through the terminal: While the stroller will help you get around with the kids, it might be difficult to move around with a double stroller, especially during the airport’s peak travel hours. You will need to find elevators and avoid escalators, which may mean small detours from the most direct route.
To gate-check your double stroller you will drop it off at the end of the loading ramp or at the jet bridge at the boarding gate. Listen to the instructions of the staff. If in any doubt, ask them to clarify the
Before gate-checking, you will have to remove attachments such as drink holders and any other stroller attachments, fold the stroller, and strap it securely. This is when you put it into a protective bag, if you have one.
Make sure you to attach a luggage tag issued by the airlines to the stroller or stroller bag.
At the destination, your double stroller will be returned, near the bottom of the loading ramp, at the jet bridge, or in the luggage hall (depending on the airport policies). You can check with the cabin crew to find out.
Remember, that if you fly with American Airlines you will not be able to take your double stroller to the gate, unless it is under 9kg (20lbs) and must check it in at the ticket counter instead. Be sure to check with your airline on their particular guidelines.
What are Various Airlines’ Rules Concerning Double Strollers?
Airline rules about strollers vary quite a bit. For your convenience, here are several major air carriers around the world which do allow gate-checked strollers:
- Air France
- Air New Zealand
- American Airlines, with a weight restriction of 10kg (22lb)
- British Airways, with a collapsed size restrictions of 117cm x 38cm x 38cm (46in x 15in x 15in)
- Cathay Pacific, with a weight restriction of 10kg (22lb)
- Frontier Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Japan Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines, to be decided at Check-in counter on case-by-case basis
As a general rule of thumb, you can take your stroller on-board, as one of your hand luggage allowance, as long as it collapses to a size complaint with the airline’s carry-on size.
Tips on Flying with Double Strollers
In order to make your trip more comfortable and to avoid unwanted troubles, here are some tips on organizing your air travel with a double stroller:
1) Choose the right double stroller for air travel.
The weight and size differentiate a travel stroller from a regular one.
The most suitable double strollers for flying are portable and lightweight.
Typically, a travel stroller will have fewer bells and whistles features to save on weight, though still have a sun canopy.
The reclining feature is a double stroller is handy for allowing your kids to take naps. some do have very simple mechanisms for reclining. Those with more complex reclining features will likely come with a weight sacrifice.
TIP: Be critical about lower age limits on strollers. Some pushchairs are marked 6 months+, as they do not recline fully, to a lie-flat position. Consider how much time your baby will spend and sleep in the stroller: if it’s only occasionally, then I would go for the more practical pushchair that will serve you longer. (It’s what we did and we added a sheepskin to better support the baby.)
Folding options are also important to take into consideration when choosing your double strolling to take on your journey. A double stroller that is easy to fold will prove to be very helpful when it comes to travelling by plane.
Safety and comfort are other essential features to consider when purchasing a pushchair for travel. Your kids are likely to spend a fair amount of lot of time in the stroller while you are away on vacation, as you navigate unfamiliar surroundings. Ensure that the double stroller is equipped with safety features such as straps and braking systems. Make sure the straps are comfortable and won’t chafe in the heat.
For your own comfort, make sure the handle is at the right height for you to push the buggy around. (I say that from personal experience, as one of our travel pushchairs left my husband with a back pain each time he pushed it around. He’s not too tall- 6’1”/ 186cm – but had to bend just slightly to push the stroller, enough to cause discomfort)
2) Practice unloading and folding the pushchair
Some strollers are a real pain to fold down! And there is nothing more embarrassing than holding up a queue because you are either trying to remember how to fold the stroller or the mechanism is a bit stuck. Practice folding your stroller at home, especially if it is new to you or you haven’t used it in a while!
TIP: Lubricate your stroller wheels and folding mechanism before you travel!
In day-to-day life we tend to lump things into the shopping basket of our pushchair without a second thought. If you keep this same habit when you are travelling with the pushchair you will have a couple of loose items – a blanket, a bottle, some tissues, etc.- hanging around. Make sure you have a little foldable shopping bag to collect all the loose items into. (This is great for storing hats, gloves and coats of the little ones if you are travelling in the winter.)
3) Don’t Overload the Stroller
Every pushchair has a safe load carrying limit. Overloading with children heavier than it was designed to carry and extra luggage will wear out the stroller quicker (if not break it then and there.)
It’s all too easy to hook on more and more bags, let your older child sit in it for a little bit too, while you are rushing to your gate. Many sun canopies have been broken by stacking weight on top too. (Ours being one of them. )
The most common mistake parents make is actually hanging too much weight on the back of the buggy and when they step away from it momentarily, it flips back scaring its occupants. Oops!
4) Protect your Stroller in the Aircraft Hold
Strollers do get damaged and mishandled by baggage handlers, sadly. They tend to be an awkward shape and are often squeezed into place using other heavy pieces of luggage.
You can provide some protection for your stroller with a cover, taking off detachable wheels and making sure all clips are closed.
5) Have a Backup Plan
Going through the airport with your double buggy is a great option. However, consider having a carrier – sling, wrap or even a simple pouch sling- for each child (especially if you are travelling with your partner or another adult) and still taking the double pram. The carriers are great on planes and great if there isn’t a pram available in airports straight after arrivals or during transit.
More and more airports also have strollers or carry-on trolleys with child seats in the terminals. We don’t know of any suitable for babies, as yet, so it’s best to have some backup plan for carrying a baby.
Have you flown with your double strollers?
Please share your experiences, hints and tips in the comments