Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.
The events of the recent American Airlines flight 591 from San Francisco to Dallas where a mom of young twins had her stroller taken from her on-board the aircraft set off a chain reaction that ended with a yelling flight attendant, the mom in tears, the baby narrowly being missed by the stroller, and much more. The initial reaction of many, even frequent flyers, was that the mom should have known better than to bring a stroller on-board the aircraft in the first place.
I’m not 100% sure how I would carry twin one year olds and our stuff on-board without some type of contraption, but that aside, bringing strollers on-board the aircraft is far from a never permitted action. In fact, in my unscientific research, it looks to me that roughly half of the world’s major airlines outside of the US expressly permit some strollers in the cabin as carry-on luggage.
However, here in the United States it is true that the overwhelming majority of airlines do not permit strollers to go beyond the boarding door, though even the fee-happy airlines like Spirit do allow them to be checked at the ticket counter or gate at no extra charge. I know from my own travels that occasionally small collapsable umbrella strollers do make it in the overhead bins of US airlines, but that is the exception and certainly not the rule. The only US airline that I could find that does still have written policies to permit the carry-on of strollers is Hawaiian Airlines.
The mom who was flying American Airlines over the weekend was indeed on an international itinerary, and once you leave the 50 states, in-cabin small strollers are much more common-place on other airlines. This shouldn’t be too surprising as non-US airlines are generally more child-friendly than US airlines in almost every category offering things like airport family rooms, on-board nannies, in-flight baby food, child friendly meals, milk, and even diapers. In fact, several of the international airlines that don’t permit strollers on-board actually provide free strollers to be used in the airports.
To highlight that there is no one standard when it comes to checking or carrying-on strollers, here are the stroller policies of 20 airlines around the world. Of course, policies can change at any point, so please double check with your carrier of choice before travel if you need additional clarification on their current stroller rules.
Airlines That Allow On-Board Strollers
If you’re an adult traveling with children, you may bring on board the following as part of your carry-on baggage allowance-as long as the items can properly fit in the overhead compartment or beneath the seat in front of you. If these items are checked in, they’ll be exempt from baggage fees for the ticketed adult passenger who’s traveling with the child. (There is no separate baggage allowance for an infant you hold in your lap.)
- Car seats
- Infant carrying seats
One infant’s carrying basket or fully collapsible stroller, push-chair, car seat or CARES harness. There is no limitation of volume, weight, size for infant’s push chair, or carrying basket. The fully collapsible stroller can be stored in the closed overhead bin.
An umbrella-type collapsible stroller or any type of foldable stroller within the standard cabin bag size and weight after folding (if cabin stowage is available).
Strollers with a completely collapsible frame and seat will normally fit in the overhead locker on our 777-300, 777-200, 787-9 and A320 Domestic aircraft only. On our other aircraft they must be checked in because there is limited locker space. If the flight you are travelling on is full, airport staff may request that your stroller is checked in.
Prams, three-wheeled jogger-style buggies and larger strollers do not fit in the overhead locker and must be checked-in on all aircraft.
For each child you may always bring 1 collapsible stroller free of charge on any KLM flight. If the stroller will not fit under the seat or in the overhead baggage compartment, you can check it in at no extra charge.
You may carry onboard any type of compact foldable light-weight stroller only if they meet the following requirements:
- The stroller must meet SIA’s standard cabin bag dimensions (up to 7kg and sum of length, width and height should not exceed 115cm) and must be able to be stored in the cabin overhead compartment.
- The stroller will be counted towards your cabin baggage allowance for your class of travel (i.e. your compact foldable lightweight stroller will be counted as 01 piece of cabin bag).
- The stroller must be folded and packed into its carrier bag prior to boarding.
- The stroller must not be opened and used in the aircraft cabin at all times.
Compact foldable light-weight strollers will be checked in if there is no space in the cabin. Strollers that do not meet the above requirements will also have to be checked in. These strollers, when checked in, will not be counted as part of your checked baggage allowance.
You can transport a foldable stroller and car seat in the hold at no extra charge. Some strollers may be accepted in the cabin, subject to space availability. Depending on the type of stroller, the following size limits apply.
- Small foldable stroller:* dimensions cannot exceed 15 cm x 30 cm x 100 cm / 5.9 in x 11.8 in x 39.4 in
- Other foldable stroller: this replaces the hand baggage allowance for infants and its dimensions cannot exceed: 55 cm x 35 cm x 25 cm / 21.7 in x 13.8 in x 9.8 in
Please note: strollers must be packed in a carrying case that covers the stroller fully. In addition, for security reasons, some airports may have to deny access to strollers inside the boarding areas.
Passengers travelling with infants in any class of service are also permitted one (1) handbag for infant food (weight must not exceed 5 kg/11lb) and other inflight necessities and one (1) fully collapsible stroller / carry-cot, as a carry-on item if cabin space is available or else as checked baggage in the hold.
Since storage space is limited in the aircraft cabin, the acceptance of baby prams/strollers as cabin items will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Once the storage space is taken up, these items will need to be loaded in the aircraft hold.
- Flights within Mexico: One bassinet or strolled is allowed. Infants traveling on passenger’s lap are not subject to additional baggage allowance.
- International Destinations: one additional piece of luggage besides the stroller or bassinet, not to exceed 20 kg (44 pounds) in weight or 1.15 m (45 inches) in size as a carry-on is allowed.
Japan Airlines* (seems to be that gate checking is strongly encouraged, but it does not say it is required)
Airlines That Require You to Check Strollers
If you have a small, fully collapsible and lightweight pushchair/stroller (with maximum dimensions of 117cm x 38cm x 38cm/46in x 15in x 15in when the pushchair is collapsed), you will qualify to take this right to the aircraft door and collect at the aircraft door at most airports.
Approved car seats, baby baskets or foldable pushchairs (these will be transported in the hold) may also be carried as carry-on baggage. Further information on this is available on the Carry-on Baggage page.
Each ticketed customer is allowed 1 stroller. Only small, collapsible and light strollers (up to 20lbs/9kgs) can be checked at the gate. Any stroller that weighs over 20lbs/9 kgs, is too large or is non−collapsible must be checked at the ticket counter.
Customers are allowed 1 stroller and 1 car seat per ticketed passenger. Both items may be checked at the ticket counter or one item can be checked at the gate and one at the counter. These items are checked at no charge, when traveling with a child or to adopt.
Strollers may be checked to your final destination without a fee, in addition to your normal baggage allowance.
Children can be transported in their strollers throughout the airport. However, strollers must be checked at the gate. No strollers of any size are permitted as carry-on baggage. Your child’s stroller will be delivered to you at the aircraft door upon request at your connecting city or destination. Large, non-collapsible strollers cannot be checked at the gate. Please see a United representative at the airport check-in counter to check your large, non-collapsible stroller.
United is not responsible for damage that occurs to strollers that are not packed in a box and checked at the check-in counter.
- Customers traveling with children will be allowed to check one stroller and one Child Restraint System (CRS) or car seat per child without charge. This is in addition to the regular free baggage allowance.
- The stroller and CRS or car seat allowance applies to any type of stroller (umbrella, full size, jogging stroller, etc.) and CRS or car seat.
- The Customer may check the stroller and CRS or car seat at the curb, ticket counter, or gate.
- Southwest Airlines will not assume liability for damage to strollers, CRSs or car seats. (An optional Southwest-branded reusable car seat/stroller bag is available for purchase at any Southwest Airlines ticket counter for a $15 one time fee.)
Children’s strollers and seat restraints are not counted as part of the standard baggage and therefore can easily be checked for free. For your convenience these items may be checked at curbside, the ticket counter, or at the gate.
Take your fold up one-piece buggy right to the aircraft. You will be given a label at the check-in desk. Depending on your destination, your buggy will be returned to you either when you disembark or on the baggage carousel. Because of their size, prams and buggies for more than one child must be checked in as baggage.
Visit the check-in desk for your cabin of travel. During the check-in process, we will place luggage tags on any push chairs or strollers. You will still be able to use these within the airport. They will be placed in the aircraft hold at the departure gate shortly before boarding.
To make life a little easier, Guests arriving at our home base, Abu Dhabi, are welcome to use one of our complimentary strollers, which are available in the terminal, close to the gate. They’re bright orange in colour, so you can’t miss them!
To make your time on the ground easier, most mainline Australian ports have strollers available for you to use once you have checked-in your own personal stroller. Staff will be on hand at the boarding gate ready to collect the stroller and to further assist you with pre-boarding the aircraft.
When you stop and think about it, the number of rules and policies that impact flying families is pretty overwhelming, especially when you factor in how much it can all vary from carrier to carrier and country to country. What has been your experience when traveling the world with your stroller?
If you want to start traveling the world with your family for much less, head to this Beginner’s Guide to Miles and Points and feel free to follow along on Twitter and Facebook for daily miles, points, and travel tips!
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.