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Have Carseat, will it fly?

I know a lot of families may have been putting off travel for a while because they can't imagine doing so with small children, but not us!  This year we took our 3yr old and 2 month old back to Texas for the holidays, and the travel went really really well, I think.  We decided to forgo the stroller this time but the baby seat was essential, as nearly every destination within the Houston area is at LEAST a 30 minute drive from my parents' place.  They checked the car seat at the gate but I made sure to remove any of the loose items (head positioners, toys, etc).  We decided that if we needed to do shopping then we could just carry baby in a Baby Bjorn or Ergo, or even the sling.  Sarah asks another question though, as she needs to take a stroller AND a car seat:

Hi there I have a question about travelling these days. I called the airline and was only able to speak with someone in another country who had to put me on hold more than once to determine whether or not I could bring a sandwich or fruit and had no idea about the concept of gate checking a stroller (after more than 10 minutes on hold all we had established was that I could check it with checked baggage when I got to the ticket counter, not my question!). So I thought I would use the incredible resource of knowledge that Urbanmamas is...I have a stroller that I have gate checked in the past so I know that works, what I'm wondering is can one also gate check an infant carseat? Technically they don't fit together but I know some people use those, do they gatecheck the whole business?

I remember when my 3 yr old was a wee one and I didn't know about baby wearing, I believe I did check the stroller at the check-in and the car seat at the gate.  I have also checked a stroller only at the gate and not the car seat.  I don't think they'd mind checking both at the gate though.  It may even depend on the airline.  Has anyone ever checked 2 items at the gate.  Or worse, tried and been told you couldn't?

By the way, Sarah, the TSA didn't get the joke when they asked me to remove baby milk containers and I started to disrobe.  My husband quickly reminded me that they don't usually have the same sense of humor I do ;)


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I recently moved to Portland from AZ and encountered this problem. I am not sure which airline I flew on, but they would only allow me to bring one item aboard as my "carry-on". Since I was left to navigate the airport by myself with a toddler, stroller, car seat and several pieces of luggage, I chose the stroller. I was given the option to purchase a seat for my son in which case I could have brought the stroller as my carry on and installed the car seat on my son's seat. When I was trying to obtain information, I also encountered the problem of speaking with someone in another country and had problems getting my questions answered. Try calling the airport directly and they may be able to connect you someone on site. Good luck!

Hi Sarah!

Ava and I traveled to NY on American Airlines for Thanksgiving. We gate-checked both our stroller and car seat. They won't count those as carry ons since they are checked at the gate. We had also purchased a seat for our (then) one year old. But she refused to sit in her car seat, so we checked it and the stroller on the way back. Hope your flight goes smoothly!

I think it depends on the airline but I have traveled on both United and Frontier and had no problems checking both my stroller and car seat (not only my infant but my 3 year olds as well). Both of those airlines have been extremely accomodating in that sense and we have traveled quite a bit in the last 3 years. Good luck!

I have flown with my toddler several times and gate-checked both a stroller and car seat (Alaska Airlines and Horizon). Neither were counted as a carry-on - I also brought a backpack for me and a diaper bag for my son.

Keep in mind, if you get to the airport and they have an open seat on your flight, they will typically assign the seat to the child without charging you for it. In that case, you can bring the car seat onboard and just gate check the stroller.

Check the website for the airline - look under their FAQ section for traveling with an infant. Some airlines allow you additional baggage or carry-ons with lap infants.

Good Luck!

I've had the same experience with Alaska, Horizon and Southwest: no problem gate checking both the stroller and car seat. Neither were counted as carry on and when there was a seat deemed available at the last minute, we were able to carry on the car seat.

We recently traveled to Lexington KY with a connection in Cincinnati and came back through Atlanta, GA on Delta airlines. We did not purchase a seat for our little guy, but lucked out and the seat between my husband and I stayed empty on both of our flights. We decided not to take the carseat on board because he is crawling and cruising and would not have taken kindly to being strapped down for 4.5 hours. Delta seemed pretty flexible on how much stuff you can bring with you when you are traveling with children - we were still limited to one carryon and one personal item, so I packed my purse and my camera in one backpack and then also had the diaper bag. We gate-checked both the carseat and the stroller. No problems at any of the three airports we departed from. When you get to the gate, walk up to the ticketing agent while smiling sweetly and ask for two gate check claim tickets for your items. They will instruct you on leaving them at the end of the walkway.
Happy travels!

I have to highly recommend CARES: Kids Fly Safe, the new safety restraint for babies over 22 lbs. It is a harness type thing that has been approved by the FAA as being a safe restraint for those not big enough for the regular seat belt. It fastens around the back of the seat, around the baby, and then the seat belt goes through the straps. Early December, none of the flight attendents on my flights to Boston via Chicago had seen one, but they had all heard of them and were so excited to have one there. They kept calling their coworkers over to see it! My mom had been nice enough to use her miles to purchase a seat for my 17 month old, and I DID NOT want to deal with the car seat. I found about CARES about 3 days before my trip, called them to place the order (best $75 I ever spent), they Fed Exed it to me next day, and I checked my car seat with my luggage. Tory did not love being strapped in, but it was wonderful for me to be able to put her down for take off, landing, turbulence, and nap time! You can find out more at www.kidsflysafe.com, and I do not work for the company!!;)

As a single mom who flies with my small daughter fairly frequently, the Sit & Stroll turned out to be a pretty good investment: http://www.amazon.com/%2527n%2527-Stroll-5%252din%252d1-Combination-Seat%252fStroller/dp/B0006UF43M. Not the best carseat ever, not the best stroller ever, but man, having one less thing to carry and check at the airport is a godsend!

If you end up checking your carseat with your regular luggage, it can count against your luggage allowance. I can't remember the details now, but we had a major hassle at O'Hare when we were on our way home from my husband's grandmother's funeral. It was one of those rare occasions when we didn't have a seat for our child, as it was a last minute trip. We had no problems leaving Portland, but when we were checking in at O'Hare they wanted to charge us $100 or something for having the seat plus our 4 bags. We protested and eventually got them to lets us not pay. I think threatening to gate check it may have done the trick, but just beware that strollers and carseats count as luggage in the check-in area.

We've borrowed a Sit & Stroll a few times. It is really nice for the airport part of the trip, but I always had a hard time installing it rear-facing in a car, FYI.

We've also done a ton of travelling with Anders and since he just turned two, we've only actually purchased one ticket for him yet. Many times, if the flight is not full, they'll move you to an empty row and you can luck out and get an extra seat or two to stretch out.

As a rule, we dont check the carseat at checkin unless we have a direct flight. (I have this fear of our carseat getting lost in a city other than our final destination and being stranded at the airport...) If I'm travelling by myself though (which is usually the case) I try to check the seat at checkin so that I dont have to lug it through security. The airlines that we've flown on have never counted the carseat as baggage, but maybe the policies vary from airline to airline. Now that we're on the West Coast, most of our flights have been direct. But two years ago I think we flew from Boston to the West Coast 4-6 times in Anders' first year, and I checked both the car seat and stroller at the gate with no problems at all. Good Luck!

I think it is great to gate check. It gives you better odds that it will arrive at your destination. My SIL has had flights where checked carseats did not arrive. Have fun.

I travelled with Maggie last week. You can bring food on the plane, formula and breast milk, but no other fluids > 3 oz. I flew United and they charge for food now, so I highly recommend bringing snacks. They checked the car seat and the stroller thingy I got for it (at Target -- $50) at the gate. I ended up putting all the luggage on the stroller and carrying the baby because she was lighter. It was pretty funny. I recommend bringing a Bjorn or similar carrier because you might end up not getting the seat next to you and having to hold your baby.

I've checked carseat and stroller at the gate, every time I travel. A friend made a great recommendation that I used the first time, but unfortunately did not the next time I traveled (and learned my lesson). She said to get one of those huge garbage bags and heavy duty plastic ties (the kind that lock in place) to put over the carseat and one for the stroller. The times I've followed that advice, the carseat and stroller come through much cleaner. The one time I didn't do it, some kind of grease got all over the stroller. Not cool.
But gate checking is great, especially since you get the carseat that much quicker. You can have one person wait for the bags while the other person is putting the carseat(s) into the car or rental car. It's a great timesaver when you have some wiggly kiddos with you.

We have checked both in the past and it wasn't a problem. Since I tend to travel without my husband I check the kids carseats at the counter and I ask them to put it in a bag. It keeps it clean and incase there is a part that comes off that we forgot to remove its in the bag. The stroller I would becareful with gate check. they toss the strollers and we ended losing a wheel off an umbrella stroller and another time they broke the part the holds the canopy on. Depending on how often you travel you may want to look into those carseats that have a built in stroller. We also learned that depending on the airlines if you have your items marked "fragile" those will be in the first batch of luggage to come out. We learned that one from a really nice ticket counter guy at Alaska Air.

We also ask the airlines if they have anything special for the kids. We found that depending on the airlines, length of flight, etc. you will get things from books, puzzles, coloring kits, happy meals, diapers, etc. complimentary. We got that tip from our travel agent.

I also carry lollipops for the kids incase their ears get a bit bothered on the flight.

Happy travels!!

I've got 2 suggestions for travelling with carseats:

1.You can actually "wear" them like a backpack by putting your arms through the restraint straps and getting it to ride on your back. Looks a little dorky but it leaves you with valuable free hands.

2. Buy one of those lightweight collapsable luggage wheelie carts that you always see the pilot or the navigator lugging their briefcases on. Then fold it up at the gate, stick it in seat of the carseat and cover all up with the large trashbag that you also brought. And don't forget to put your name and address in the bag on the carseat.


cafe papa stephen

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