Since we traveled recently, I thought I would do a mini-series on flying with a baby. Eli has been on over 22+ flights since he was born, and we have flown on over half of those flights alone (just Eli and I), so we have a system down at this point (although I learn new things every time I fly). If you haven’t yet, check out my last post on packing the diaper bag when flying with a baby here.
I thought I would continue with traveling with your carseat and stroller, and the advice and tips I have picked up along the way!
Car Seat: We have gate-checked and checked our car seat and both ways have turned out great. We gate check whenever we have a short connection so that we can make sure it gets to our destination (although I learned on our last flight, if they lose your carseat when you check it, the airlines have complimentary carseats you can borrow until yours is returned to you). If we do gate check, I attach the car seat to our stroller and put Eli in the car seat vs having him be forward facing. He doesn’t like it as much, but that way I don’t have to lug a heavy car seat through the airport. Then we just put our car seat bag in the stroller basket and when we’re boarding I put the car seat in the bag. We ALWAYS use a car seat bag. We use this one and it has held up great (I know I’ve mentioned before but it’s still going strong after over 20+ flights). We don’t want to risk something happening to our car seat or it being mishandled or scratched. Once he outgrows his infant seat, the bag will also fit our convertible seat, and I’m planning on purchasing one of these to carry it through the airport if we end up gate-checking it (I have seen kids sitting in their carseat on this instead of a stroller – what a great idea!)
Stroller: We have taken both our Baby Jogger and an umbrella stroller with us on trips and they are great to have. They make it much easier to get through airports and I highly recommend them if you have a long layover so you don’t have to carry them the whole time. We don’t always take a stroller but since Eli has gotten bigger and heavier it has become a necessity for us. We don’t use stroller bags, but we always gate-check and they handle them much more gently that way. If we did check, I would get this bag or this one as I’ve heard great things about them both.
Security is a bit different with a stroller and/or carseat, and every airport is different. Some will check the stroller separately by hand, others will have you lift it on to the belt. The TSA agents will guide you as to what you need to do with your stroller. I will also be doing a separate post on security with a baby, as it is a lot more difficult (and time consuming).
Once you get to your gate, make sure you ask for a gate-check tag. The airlines will print out specific ones for your flight so it will end in you final destination and will be linked with your ticket, and it will say something like “handle with care”. This is important to make sure it doesn’t get lost. They also handle these items (car seat and stroller) with more care.
Also, most airlines will let you pre-board so you have extra time to get them out of the stroller and situated. We almost always ask to do this (especially when I’m flying alone with Eli) because I do not want to hold up the line trying to fold our stroller and get all our stuff put up and situated in the plane. Most airlines do not announce family boarding (at least American Airlines has not the last few times we flew), but if you ask before they begin boarding, they will tell you when you are able to board.
Carrier: when Eli was a newborn, rather than take a stroller (since he was so light and wanted to be held most of the time) I used to wrap him in the baby k’tan (love love this thing! I have the active version so it stays cooler in Florida summer) so I could carry him through the airport hands-free. I also use our Ergobaby carrier now since he is heavier whenever we don’t take a stroller with us. That way it’s better on my back and easier to carry him (and we check the car seat). I take the Ergobaby on all trips now, just in case he wants me to carry him. With our next baby, I may try this carrier, as everyone I know who has it loves it.
Make sure to check back for my next couple posts, all about getting tickets, packing, and getting through security!