Flying is much more than just buying a ticket and securing a window seat especially when infants are part of the itinerary. Traveling with infants can prove to be quite daunting. Investing in the right baby stroller to ferry them around cuts down this task hugely. That way it becomes much more convenient for the parents to move around without having to worry about the infants being uncomfortable. Airlines usually allow baby strollers as “gate check” luggage or sometimes as overhead cabin baggage (do check with the respective airline carrier regarding their policy on the number of strollers admissible and other rules that are applicable).
Baby strollers come in various shapes, sizes, colors and brands. For something as specific as traveling with a baby via air, it helps to narrow down the options. The wide range of products available in this segment available more often than confuses the buyer in deciding as to which one to buy. To minimize this, there are some quality assessment criteria that buyers can use as a yardstick before they zero in on the best travel stroller for flying.
1) Weight: It is best to buy strollers that are lightweight without having to compromise too much on the other features that make for a good quality stroller. The lighter the stroller, the more convenient it is to carry and push it around. Some airlines might have specific policies on the maximum weight of strollers permissible on as free of charge. It always helps to check with the respective airlines beforehand. In any case, it is advisable to purchase lightweight strollers simply for its ease of convenience.
2) Compact collapsing: It makes sense to buy collapsible strollers when flying with infants. They can be easily folded and handed over as gate check baggage which will be returned before exiting the flight. Collapsible strollers are easy to store, requiring minimum space and can be used right after disembarking from the plane. Also, during X-ray scans at airports, collapsible strollers are functional because they can be wrapped up and put through the scanner.
3) Dimensions: Check to make sure that the height, length, weight carrying capacity of the stroller is proportionate to the weight and height of the infant. Strollers usually come with information tags that specify the age range, height, etc. that it caters to so it becomes just a matter of choosing the stroller with the right infant-to-stroller ratio.
4) Storage: There are many items that one needs to carry when traveling with infants regardless of the distance, especially while flying when parents want to take as little luggage as possible. Diapers, feeding bottles, toys etc. – having to undergo the pain of carrying them in a separate bag is a different story altogether. This is where strollers with storage facilities prove to be handy. Opt for strollers that provide extra pockets or baskets underneath it wherein all baby needs can be stored safely. Strollers with cup holders are also very useful for not only keeping the baby’s feeding bottle intact but also for the parents who can make use of it to position their beverages as they keep an eye on their child.
5) Add-ons: Check if the stroller comes with a carry bag; otherwise invest in a stroller carry bag wherein it can be packed in while not in use and can be stored within the aircraft. This helps in not only protecting the stroller but to increase its longevity as well. Further, carry bags also offers the ease of moving the stroller as a strap-on bag while waiting for flights to arrive and the infant is fussy about being in the stroller.
6) Ventilation: Prior to the purchase, ensure that the strollers have proper vents for air circulation so that the infant doesn’t face any discomfort while waiting for flights or during long check-in queues.
7) Recliner: Comfort is a necessity. More so during long waiting intervals for flights and security check-ins. The best travel stroller for flying are the ones that have this particular feature where the baby can comfortably lie back and nap during the waiting period.
8) Safety belts: Ideally a 5 point seatbelt harness will keep the infant securely in place without running the risk of the baby slipping or spilling over.
9) Wheels: Airports usually have marbled and slightly slippery floors. Make sure the wheels on the stroller are able to maneuver around on such surfaces. Opting for foam-based wheels usually works best on smooth and slippery flooring.
10) Canopy: Sometimes the bright lighting at airports can disrupt an infant’s mood which might affect their temperament so choosing a stroller with an excellent canopy-like overhead protection ensures a happy and calm baby.
11) Brakes: As mentioned earlier, Airport floors tend to be a bit more different comparatively so as the infant is being wheeled around, the brakes on the stroller should lock and come in contact with the wheels the moment they are applied.
12) Type of stroller: There is an array of baby strollers available in the market as per the size, terrain and travel requirements. During air travel with infants in tow, it is recommended that one uses lightweight umbrella strollers which are easy to handle, maneuver and adjustable.
13) Car seats: Buy strollers that come with detachable car seats that can be used to straddle the infant during the flight. Before the purchase, confirm with the manufacturer that the stroller is safe for flights and also check with the concerned airlines if they allow car seats inside the aircraft.
Remember, investing some time in deciding before buying a baby stroller is advisable. Especially when the mode of travel is flying and infants as are part of the entourage. It is also recommended that parents taking infants on their maiden flight seek the opinion of families who have already experienced it. Their opinion might help in deciding one to look out for the appropriate baby strollers for air travel.
Follow these instructions for a seamless experience while flying with babies on board. After all, a happy baby makes for a happier parent.