Now that you’ve decided on American Airlines for your next family holiday, it is important to know more about their stroller policy and what to expect when traveling with children in strollers. Traveling with kids is no joke and can be a confusing and daunting experience, especially for those who haven’t flown with kids before. This article will explain more about the AA stroller policy and lay out what it’s like to fly with kids.
American Airlines Stroller Policy
When flying on an American Airlines flight, you are allowed to bring a collapsable stroller under 20 lb (9 kg) right up to the boarding gate. This stroller will be tagged and loaded into the overhead bin and unloaded for you at the destination. Strollers that are over 20 lb (9kg) will need to be checked in with your luggage at the ticket counter.
Note that this means it is very likely that you can’t gate-check your all terrain stroller as they usually weigh around 22-30 lb.
What else can I bring on the flight?
If you have a small infant, you can also bring a car seat up to the boarding gate in addition to your stroller, free of charge. If you don’t want to chance to damage your regular car seat while on vacation, looking into the best travel car seats might be a worthwhile investment.
Breastfeeding women can also bring a soft-sided cooler bag for breast milk. According to the TSA rules, formula, breast milk, and toddler drinks/foods greater than 3.4 ounces (100 ml) are permitted in carry-on baggage and don’t need to fit within the standard quart-sized bag.
Which stroller should I bring?
When bringing a stroller on a plane, it’s best to ensure you have the appropriate stroller to make it fast and convenient for your family to get on and off the plane. No one wants to have a delay at the gates, especially when traveling with impatient little ones!
Strollers that are fully collapsible and under 20 lb can be brought on an American Airlines flight, so you’ll want to look for a simple model of travel stroller. A collapsible stroller is sometimes referred to as Umbrella strollers are noticeably different from regular strollers.
Umbrella strollers typically:
- Are smaller in size
- Are fully collapsible
- Are easy to fold and store
- Don’t come with many attachments
- Have little storage space under the seat
- Have small wheels.
If you own a stroller with wide set wheels like a three-wheeled jogging stroller, double stroller, or a bigger luxury stroller from a brand like Nuna, UPPAbaby, Silver Cross, or Bugaboo, it’s best to check that as luggage or leave it at home.
Strollers at the check-in desk.
If you plan on bringing a larger stroller, you will need to check it in as luggage. Which can be done at the check-in desk. From this point, you will have to carry your child as you pass through security or bring an additional umbrella stroller.
This decision will depend on how comfortable you are flying with children and if you have help to get you through security. Some families prefer no stroller to make the gate experience seamless. Still, umbrella strollers are recommended if you have long wait times at the gate.
Strollers going through security
When bringing your umbrella or collapsible stroller through security, you will need to put it through the x-ray machine. To prepare to go through security, take your child and any items out of the stroller before arriving to help make the process seamless. Children who can walk will have to walk through the metal detector alone and be subject to a pat-down procedure should the sensor go off. Children under twelve don’t have to remove their shoes for this process.
Strollers at the gate
Now that your stroller is through security, you can unfold it and use it in the airport as needed. American Airlines offers early boarding for children under two, so it’s best to make use of this time and check your stroller in when called. This gives the airline plenty of time to load the strollers and also offers families lots of time to get organized and settled before the flight. More about this at gate checking a stroller.
Protecting your stroller on the go
One of the worst things to find out after a flight is to see that your stroller is damaged or unusable. It is an important mobility device for young children and can be hard to replace in specific destinations. Here are some tips to protect your stroller while you are traveling.
1. Cover your stroller
Whether you are traveling with just an umbrella stroller that will go in the overhead bin or you decided to check in a bigger stroller as luggage, it’s always a good idea to use a stroller cover. Some strollers you purchase will come with a cover for them, but if yours doesn’t, you can purchase them from any kids/baby store that sells strollers or a department store. If you don’t have a cover, you can also ask the attendants for a plastic bag to cover the stroller.
2. Remove attachments
If you have any attachments on your stroller like a coffee cup holder, snack tray, or extra storage in the bottom, it’s best to remove them for traveling and leave them at home or pack them in your suitcase where they can’t be damaged.
Traveling on American Airlines with small children
American Airlines tries to make the experience of flying with small children as seamless as possible. It’s perfectly alright to bring formula, breast milk, and weaning foods onboard (not part of your allowed liquids) and one diaper bag per child. Children from two days old to two years old can be carried on an adult’s lap free of charge for domestic flights and at a 10% charge for international flights.
Change tables are abundant within airports, and wider aircraft and bassinets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. You can board early at the gate if you fly with children under two.
Tips for traveling with young children
Flying with young children presents a set of challenges you wouldn’t have to think about when traveling with other adults or older children. Small children under 3 need lots of attention, have a small attention span, and have a need to be active, all of which are a normal part of infant and toddler development. Here are some handy tips for flying with young children.
- When it is safe to do so, get up with your toddler and go for a walk around the cabin. This will help tire them out and give them a chance to stretch for long flights.
- Have a flight bag with brand-new, age-appropriate toys and activities they can play with on the flight.
- Bring a familiar soft toy or blanket to help soothe them during take-off, landing, and turbulence.
- If your child is already watching tv at home, bringing a tablet with downloaded movies and shows and child-friendly headphones can help keep older toddlers and young children entertained.
Traveling on American Airlines with older children
American Airlines has amenities that can also make traveling with older children a breeze. In addition to the tips above that can be altered and applied to older children as well, AA offers many options for inflight entertainment for children, and snacks/meals are available for purchase.
When booking your flight, American Airlines also recognizes when you are traveling as a family (when booked on the same reservation) and will automatically put your seats beside each other.
Following these tips and guidelines should ensure that you have a seamless flight and an enjoyable start to your next family vacation!