The Ultimate Guide to Gate Checking Your Stroller

gate check with family

‍Flying with a baby or toddler can be a challenging experience, but it doesn’t have to be a stressful one. One of the most convenient ways to manage your child and their belongings during air travel is by gate checking your stroller.

This comprehensive guide will provide you with all the information you need to know on how to gate check a stroller, from benefits and preparation to navigating the airport and understanding airline policies.

Why Gate Check a Stroller? The Benefits Explained

Gate checking a stroller offers several advantages over checking it with your luggage at the check-in counter:

  • Convenience – Gate checking a stroller allows you to use the stroller all the way to the departure gate. This means you can easily transport your child through the airport without having to carry them or fold up the stroller prematurely. It is possible to inspect the stroller just before embarking on the aircraft.
  • Avoid baggage claim – By gate checking the stroller, you can pick it up right after deplaning at your destination. You do not have to wait at the baggage claim carousel and try to spot your stroller with all the other luggage. This can save time and prevent confusion.
  • Prevent loss or damage – Gate checked items have a lower risk of being lost or damaged compared to regular checked baggage. Since the stroller is handled separately and loaded last, there is less opportunity for it to be mixed up with other bags or crushed under heavy suitcases.
  • Priority retrieval – Gate checked strollers and wheelchairs are usually given priority for retrieval and are often the first items to be unloaded from the cargo hold. This means your stroller should be waiting for you right outside the plane upon arrival.
  • Avoid excess baggage fees – Most airlines allow one stroller and one car seat to be checked for free per child. By gate checking the stroller, you do not use up one of your regular checked baggage allowances and avoid potential overage bag fees.
  • Keep essential items with you – If you have diaper bags, snacks, toys, or other crucial items attached to the stroller, gate checking allows you to keep those things with you until boarding. You can then retrieve the items from the stroller right before handing them off to the gate agent.
  • Peace of mind – For many parents, keeping their child’s stroller in sight until the last possible moment provides extra reassurance that it will be waiting for them at their destination. Gate checking provides visibility and helps put parents at ease.

So, gate checking a stroller offers many benefits for families traveling with young children.

For most airlines, it is a courtesy offered at no additional cost. By taking advantage of this option, parents can simplify the airport experience and have one less thing to worry about during their trip.

Preparing Your Stroller for Gate Check: Step-by-Step Guide

Follow these steps to prepare your stroller for gate check:

  • Clean your stroller: Remove any dirt or debris from the stroller to avoid potential issues during the security screening process.
  • Empty the storage basket: Remove any items from the stroller’s storage basket to prevent them from getting lost or damaged during transit.
  • Secure loose items: Detach any accessories, such as cup holders or hooks, and store them in your carry-on luggage or diaper bag.
  • Fold and lock the stroller: Ensure your stroller is fully collapsed and locked in place to prevent it from unfolding during handling.
  • Consider a stroller gate check bag: Using a stroller gate check bag can provide additional protection for your stroller and make it easier to transport.

How to Navigate the Airport with a Gate Check Stroller

Navigating the airport with a gate check stroller can be easy and stress-free if you follow these tips:

  • Arrive early: Give yourself plenty of time to check in, go through security, and reach your gate. This will help you avoid rushing and feeling stressed.
  • Security screening: Upon reaching the security checkpoint, it is necessary to take your child out of the stroller, collapse it, and pass it through the X-ray scanner. In case the stroller is too big to fit, security personnel will carry out a manual inspection.
  • Locate the gate agent: Upon arriving at your boarding gate, inform the gate agent that you will be gate checking your stroller. A tag for the gate check stroller will be given to you and then fastened to the stroller by them.
  • Boarding: Prior to boarding the aircraft, collapse your stroller and leave it at the terminal entrance of the jet bridge. An airline employee will collect it and store it in the cargo hold.

10 Major Airlines’ Gate Check Stroller Policies: What to Know

a mother holds a baby in the airport

Each airline has its own policy regarding gate checking strollers. Here are the policies for some major airlines:

Airlines NamePolicy
American Airlines  Strollers can be checked at the gate for no additional fee. They will be waiting for you plane-side upon arrival at your destination. American Airlines will not be liable for any damage to strollers.
Delta Air LinesDelta will gate check a stroller per child for no additional cost. The stroller can be picked up plane-side upon arrival at your destination. Delta is not liable for damage to strollers.
United Airlines United will check a stroller per child at the departure gate at no charge. The stroller can be claimed at the baggage claim area at your destination. United is not liable for damage to strollers.
Southwest Airlines Southwest will gate check a stroller per child for no additional cost. The stroller will be available for pick up at the baggage claim area at your destination. Southwest is not liable for damage to strollers.
Alaska Airlines Alaska will check a stroller per child at the departure gate at no additional cost. The stroller can be picked up at the baggage claim area upon arrival at your destination. Alaska is not liable for damage to strollers.
JetBlue Airways JetBlue will gate check one stroller per child for no additional cost. The stroller will be available for pick up at the baggage claim area in your destination city. JetBlue is not liable for damage to strollers.
Frontier Airlines Frontier will gate check one stroller per child for no additional cost. The stroller can be claimed at the baggage service office at your destination. Frontier is not liable for damage to strollers.
Spirit Airlines  Spirit will gate check one stroller per child for no additional cost. The stroller can be picked up at the baggage claim area at your destination. Spirit is not liable for damage to strollers.
Allegiant AirAllegiant will gate check one stroller per child for no additional cost. The stroller will be available for pick up at the baggage claim area at your destination. Allegiant is not liable for damage to strollers.
Hawaiian Airlines Hawaiian will gate check one stroller per child for no additional cost. The stroller can be claimed at the oversized baggage area at your destination. Hawaiian is not liable for damage to strollers.Before flying, be sure to check your specific airline’s policy regarding gate checking strollers to ensure a smooth experience.

Are there any restrictions on the size or weight of gate check strollers?

Gate checking strollers is subject to size and weight limitations imposed by most airlines. The specific policies vary between carriers, but here are some common guidelines:


Gate checked strollers must be able to fit through an x-ray machine and the aircraft doors. They cannot be too wide, tall or long. As a general rule, standard single strollers and compact travel strollers are permitted, but large double strollers, jogging strollers and stroller wagons may not be allowed. Check with your airline for their maximum dimensions.


The total weight of the gate checked stroller and any items attached to it (diaper bags, car seats, etc.) typically cannot exceed a certain limit, usually around 50-100 lbs. This varies between airlines based on the size of their aircraft. The stroller itself should be under 30-40 lbs for the best chance of being allowed as a gate checked item.


The stroller must fold up compactly in order to fit in the cargo hold. Non-collapsible strollers and a double stroller will not qualify as gate checked items due to their bulk. Make sure any stroller you want to gate check can quickly fold up into a small, self-contained unit.


The stroller cannot have any loose parts that might catch or snag during handling. This includes removable trays, bars, baskets or canopies. Any removable pieces should be taken off and carried on board with you. Fixed reclining seats and footrests are typically permitted.

Car seats

Child’s car seat attached to a stroller base are usually allowed as gate-checked items, provided the total weight limit is not exceeded. However, some airlines may require you to remove and carry on the actual car seat while checking the stroller base. Check with your carrier for their specific policy on transporting car seats.


Most airlines require all gate checked strollers to have identification tags, contact information and baggage claim stickers attached in case they get separated. Be prepared to clearly label your stroller before handing it to the gate agent.

While checking in a stroller at the gate can be very convenient, there are restrictions to be aware of based on the size, type, and total weight of the stroller.

Familiarizing yourself with your airline’s policy in advance will help avoid issues when checking in for your flight. You want to make sure your stroller qualifies as a gate check item to prevent it from having to be checked as regular baggage at the ticket counter.

Protecting Your Stroller During Gate Check: Expert Tips

To keep your stroller safe and secure during gate check, consider the following tips:

  • Use a stroller gate check bag: A stroller gate check bag can provide additional protection from dirt, damage, and loss of accessories.
  • Secure all moving parts: Ensure that your stroller is fully collapsed and locked in place to prevent it from unfolding during handling.
  • Label your stroller: Attach a label to your stroller with your name, address, and phone number in case it gets misplaced during transit.
  • Take pictures: Before handing over your stroller, take photos of its condition. This can be helpful in case you need to file a damage claim with the airline.

Is it safe to gate check an expensive or high-end stroller?

gate check stroller

Gate checking an expensive, high-end stroller does come with some risks. Some things to consider:

  1. Potential for damage: Although rare, there is a small chance of a stroller getting damaged during gate checking and handling. Parts like wheels, frames, and handles are susceptible to dents, scratches, and breaks.
    If you have an expensive stroller you want to keep in pristine condition, gate checking may not be ideal. It is best for basic models you are not as concerned about cosmetic wear and tear.
  1. Higher value target: Pricey strollers from brands like UPPAbaby, Bugaboo, Silver Cross and Stokke may be more tempting for theft or parts scavenging. Although gate checked items still have limited access, expensive strollers are more attractive targets.
    You have to weigh the convenience of gate checking versus the risk of your high-end stroller going missing.
  2. Inadequate padding: Most airlines do not provide much padding for gate checked strollers beyond a large plastic cover. If you have a stroller you want to protect from scratches and dents as much as possible, you may want to bring additional padding from home to cushion and wrap it. Some parents use pool noodles, towels, blankets, and bubble wrap to add extra padding around the stroller frame and wheels.
  1. Limited liability: Airlines typically state that they are not responsible for damage to gate checked strollers, as they are considered oversized baggage. If your expensive stroller does get damaged or go missing during gate checking, you have limited recourse for compensation. You assume most liability by opting to gate check the stroller.
  2. Higher stress: Watching your pricey stroller be rolled down the jet bridge and loaded under the plane can provoke anxiety and stress. Even if everything goes smoothly, many parents with high-end strollers report that gate checking adds an extra layer of worry to the air travel experience.

Overall, while the convenience of checking in a stroller at the gate is appealing, it may not outweigh the risks for a very expensive model. If you do not want to check your high-end stroller as regular baggage, some options to consider include:

  • Using a basic backup stroller for travel that you don’t mind gate checking.
  • Renting a stroller from service at your destination.
  • Looking into stroller models that are specifically designed and padded for air travel.
  • Asking if your airline has a “fragile” sticker you can put on the stroller for extra care and handling.
  • Purchasing additional baggage insurance in case your stroller is damaged or lost.
  • Making peace with some minor wear and tear that may occur to your stroller from gate checking.

In the end, you have to go with what you feel most comfortable and at ease with for your own situation. While damage is unlikely, there is always a small risk when gate checking expensive items.

What to Do if Your Stroller is Damaged During Gate Check

In the unlikely event that your stroller is damaged during gate check, follow these steps:

Step 1: Inspect your stroller: Upon retrieving your stroller, inspect it for any visible damage or missing parts.

Step 2: In case of damage, promptly notify the airline’s baggage service office or customer service desk at the airport.

Step 3: File a claim: If necessary, file a claim with the airline for the damage to your stroller. Provide any required documentation, such as photos and receipts, to support your claim.

How is the gate-checking a stroller with an attached car seat?

Gate checking a stroller with an attached car seat requires a few extra steps:

  1. Make sure your stroller model is approved for gate checking according to the airline’s policy. Most standard full-size strollers are allowed but double-check for any restrictions on stroller size or weight.
  2. Detach any extras from the children’s strollers before checking them in, such as diaper bags, blankets, or parent consoles. Remove anything that is not securely fastened. These items should be taken on board with you.
  3. Fold up the stroller such as umbrella strollers completely while leaving the car seat attached. Make sure the stroller is in its most compact state so it fits through the x-ray machine and aircraft doors.
  4. Let the gate agent know you have a stroller with a car seat attached that you need to gate check. They may have you fold up and bag the stroller to prevent damage to the car seat. Ask if they provide large plastic bags for this purpose. If not, you may want to bring your own bags from home.
  5. Remove the car seat from the stroller base but keep it attached to the stroller frame. The car seat should remain upright and buckled in, but detach from the base to prevent it from becoming loose or unstable during loading and unloading.
  6. Clearly label both the stroller and the car seat with your name, phone number, flight details, and final destination. This helps ensure they end up at the correct baggage claim area. You may also want to place checked luggage tags on the handles in addition to writing the information.
  7. Once at your destination, retrieve the stroller and car seat from the baggage claim area or plane-side. Once you have reassembled the car seat to the stroller frame, seat your child in the car seat.
  8. Inspect the stroller and car seat for any signs of damage before reusing them. Although rare, rough handling can sometimes cause breaks or tears. It is best to check them over thoroughly after gate checking.
  9. Consider using a sturdy stroller and car seat travel bag designed for air travel if you frequently fly with an infant. These specialized systems typically offer more support and protection for car seats during transport and handling.

Following these tips will help ensure your stroller and car seat arrive safely at your destination when gate checked together. Let the gate agent know if you have any concerns about their handling policies or need additional protective padding or a normal bag for the items. Most airlines aim to accommodate families’ needs when gate-checking infant gear.

People Also Ask

Can I bring a backpack or diaper bag with my gate check stroller?

Bringing a backpack, diaper bag, or other baby items attached to your checking in a stroller at the gate is allowed on most airlines, but there are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Remove all loose items: Take off anything that is not securely attached to the stroller like blankets, toys, parent consoles, etc. Remove loose objects that could fall off or get caught during handling. Only keep bags, packs, or other items that are firmly fixed to the stroller.
  • Clearly label everything: In addition to labeling your stroller with contact info, also label any bags or packs attached to it. This makes it less likely for them to be separated and lost. Mark each item clearly with your name, phone number, and flight details.
  • Consider locking bags: If you have valuables in your diaper bag or backpack, you may want to lock the zippers or use luggage straps to secure the bags to the stroller. This prevents access to the contents and also avoids the bags from slipping off or getting removed. Most airlines do not take responsibility for items attached to gate checked strollers.
  • Keep essential items with you: Take out anything critical that you may need during your flight such as diapers, wipes, changing pads, medications, devices, wallet, ID, boarding passes, etc. Only leave basic necessities in the bags and packs attached to your stroller. Carry on important things in case the stroller gets delayed or lost.
  • Double check with your airline: While most major airlines do allow some bags and packs to remain attached to gate checked strollers, check with your specific carrier to confirm their policy. They may have additional restrictions on the number, size, or type of items allowed to stay on the stroller during checking and handling. It is best to verify before arriving at the airport.
  • Consider a lightweight, compact option: If you do want to leave bags and gear attached to your gate checked stroller, think about using a small, lightweight diaper bag and backpack that will not weigh it down too much. More compact options are easier for baggage handlers to transport and load under the plane. Heavy, oversized bags could be removed during handling.

With some precautions taken, it is typically fine to leave a diaper bag, backpack or other lightweight bags securely attached to your gate checked stroller.
However, removing all loose items and keeping essentials with you in the cabin is the safest approach in case the stroller gets delayed or loses any attached packs during unloading or transport.

When in doubt, pack critical things in your carry-on bags instead of leaving them with the stroller.

When should I arrive at the airport for the Boarding check-in stroller?

When Boarding check-in a stroller, it is best to arrive at the airport a bit earlier than the standard recommended time. Adding just 30-60 minutes to your arrival can make the process much smoother and less stressful.

Here are some tips for timing your airport arrival when Boarding check-in a stroller:

  • Check your airline’s cut-off time: Most airlines require you to check in and drop off any gate check items at least 30-45 minutes before scheduled departure.

Check your carrier’s specific cut-off time so you do not miss it. Arrive at least 1 hour before the cut-off deadline.

  • Account for extra time at the ticket counter: There may be additional paperwork or scanning required when boarding check a stroller. The ticket agent will need to check it in, apply baggage tags, and may have you sign a limited liability statement. Expect the ticket counter process to take 10-15 minutes longer than a standard check-in.
  • Make time for potential issues: Build in extra buffer time in case there are any questions about your stroller’s size, issues with its folding or car seat attachment, or delays in getting assistance with bulky items. It is best to anticipate and account for any possible hiccups at the airport, especially if you are traveling during a busy season.
  • Get through security with extra time: Security lines often take longer when you have children and a stroller in tow. Give yourself at least 30 minutes to get through airport security to ensure you have enough time for possible stroller folding/unfolding, bag checks, and other screening requirements.
  • Check your departure gate location: Once you are through security, check the monitors to see which gate your flight is departing from. Make note of how long it will take you to get there, especially if you have to take a train or bus to a different terminal. You want to arrive at your departure gate at least 20 minutes before scheduled boarding time when boarding check a stroller.
  • Ask about priority boarding: Some airlines offer early or priority boarding for families with young children and gate checked items. Check if your airline offers this option and take advantage of it if available. Priority boarding will allow you extra time to get settled on the plane before general boarding begins.

When boarding check-in a stroller you want to budget at least 1 to 1.5 hours of extra time at the airport compared to a standard arrival.

While the process itself does not usually take that long, building in buffers for potential issues, security delays, obtaining bags, and priority boarding will help reduce your stress levels and minimize the chances of missing your flight if any complications arise.

It is always better to be safe and arrive earlier rather than risk not having enough time.

Do I need to pay an additional fee for the gate check stroller?

In most cases, boarding check a stroller does not incur an additional fee. However, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Standard policies: Major airlines like American, Delta, United, Southwest, Alaska, etc. do not charge fees for gate checking a standard single stroller and collapsible car seat or wheelchair. This is considered a courtesy service for families traveling with infants and children. Fees only apply for additional or oversized baggage.
  • Budget airlines: Some budget carriers like Frontier, Spirit, or Allegiant Air may charge small gate check fees, typically 10−25 per segment.

They allow one stroller and one car seat for free but additional items or bulkier strollers may incur a charge. It is best to check with the specific airline for their stroller and child equipment fees.

  • Excess weight: If the total weight of your stroller, attached bags, car seat, blankets, and other gear exceeds the standard 50-70 lb baggage allowance, overweight baggage fees may apply. Fees vary but are usually 50−200 per heavy or oversized item.

Make sure the total weight of everything you want to gate check adheres to the airline’s policies to avoid excess weight charges.

  • Liability waiver: Most airlines require you to sign a limited release of liability for gate-checked strollers, wheelchairs, and car seats. This states that they are not responsible for damage to the items.

While there is no upfront monetary fee, you do assume liability by opting to gate check the equipment. Consider purchasing third-party baggage insurance if the damage is a concern.

  • Pre-pay options: Some airlines offer pre-payment for baggage options that include boarding check-in equipment. For example, American Airlines’ “Group 5” boarding option includes priority boarding and allows you to gate check a stroller, wheelchair, or car seat at no additional cost.

Similar pre-boarding options are available on Delta, United, and Alaska. These can provide convenience and peace of mind for families.

  • Buy a travel system: If you frequently travel with an infant, consider investing in a car seat and stroller travel system specifically designed for air travel.

These provide more protection and padding, often come with a gate check bag and some offer baggage insurance for damage coverage. The upfront cost may save money in the long run versus paying excess baggage fees.

So in summary, while most standard single strollers and un-motorized collapsible wheelchairs can be gate checked at no charge, there are some exceptions to be aware of based on airline, equipment type, and total weight.

Check with your carrier directly for their policy details and fees specific to transporting child equipment. And purchasing a dedicated travel system may provide the most comprehensive solution for frequent family air travel.

How long does it take to retrieve my gate check stroller upon arrival?


The time it takes to retrieve your gate-checked stroller upon arrival can vary depending on several factors, including:

  • Airline and airport: Some airlines and airports have more streamlined processes for unloading and returning checked luggage. At major hubs, it may take longer due to higher volumes of baggage and passengers.

As a general rule of thumb, it can take between 10 to 30 minutes from the time you deplane to get your stroller back.

  • Priority status: If you pre-paid for priority boarding and baggage on your airline, your stroller should be among the first items unloaded and available for pickup. This can speed up retrieval time to around 10 to 15 minutes.

Without priority status, you have to wait for all other baggage and gate checks to be unloaded first which typically takes 20 to 30 minutes or more.

  • Plane connection type: Single-plane flights where you remain on the same aircraft the entire trip will usually allow for faster stroller return since all baggage moves with the passengers.

On connecting flights where you change planes, there is a possibility of your stroller getting delayed or misdirected, which can prolong retrieval time to 30 minutes or up to an hour.

  • Time of arrival: Stroller pickup will likely take longer if you arrive during a busy period at the airport around a major holiday or in the evening.

Late-night and early morning arrivals typically have shorter wait times for baggage and gate checked items since there are fewer scheduled flights coming in. If possible, aim for off-peak arrival periods.

  • Checked at the gate or plane-side: Strollers checked directly at the departure gate often have faster returns since they are transported separately.

Strollers checked at the plane door just before boarding may take longer to retrieve because they are usually mixed in with all other baggage being loaded, increasing opportunities for delay.

  • Have luggage with you: If you opt to pick up your checked bags at the baggage carousel instead of waiting for them to be brought up to the gate, add at least 10 to 15 minutes to stroller pickup time. 

You have to make your way to baggage claim, wait for bags to unload and circulate, and then locate your stroller. It is usually faster to get your stroller first before collecting any checked bags.

While there are many factors that determine how quickly you can retrieve a gate-checked stroller, as a rule of thumb budget at least 20 to 30 minutes to get it back on single-plane flights. 

On connections or during very busy periods, build in a buffer of up to one hour to account for potential issues, misdirection, or delays.

Let the gate agent know you have a stroller to pick up so they can prioritize its unloading. And try to arrive during off-peak times when possible for the fastest stroller return.

Final Thoughts

Gate checking your stroller is a convenient and hassle-free way to manage your child and their belongings during air travel. By understanding how to gate check a stroller, navigating the airport, and knowing the policies of major airlines, you can ensure a smooth and stress-free flying experience with your little one.

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