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FAQ: What happens at the airport with my buggy/car seat?

You’re all set.  You’ve bought a lightweight buggy for your overseas adventures and you’ve decided to take your infant car seat.  Now what?

Daisy at Airport

AT THE AIRPORT

Buggies – You will usually be given a luggage tag for your buggy at check-in and you can then use the buggy as normal until you get to the gate (although you may need to collapse it for a security check).  If you have a big travel system e.g. the Bugaboo Cameleon, you might have to take the wheels off to collapse through security so make sure you know how to do this!

Car seats – In most cases you will check your car seat in with your luggage.  Some airlines may allow you to use your car seat on board if you have purchased a seat for your child.  This is not a standard policy though, so make sure you have checked with your specific airline.

How do I protect my buggy if it’s being checked in?

Quite a few airlines will provide you with a clear plastic bag to place your buggy in when you are at the gate or at check-in.  If your airline doesn’t provide this, you can buy special protective cases or bags to protect your buggy while it is in the hold, although remember that this is one more item you’ll have to lug around the airport with you.  I have also seen people using bin liners, which aren’t very robust but at least they add a small layer of protection!

How do I protect my car seat if it’s being checked in?

Make sure you protect your car seat in a sturdy bag, and you can often get away with slipping some extra items in there too if you are worried about your weight allowance!

What if I have to check my buggy in?  Then what do I do?

Be prepared for this.  Some airports might insist that you check your buggy in rather than taking it all the way to the gate.  Heathrow Terminal 1 will only allow small buggies to be taken through.  At Stockholm Arlanda, all buggies must be checked in, but they do provide you with a basic small pushchair (although be aware that this isn’t really great for newborns with no head control, and there is no space for storage).

What happens if I’m a transit passenger?

When you check-in, ask whether you might be able to get your buggy back in between flights.  The likelihood is that you won’t (unless for example, you’re in Business and you’ve taken it onboard) and you therefore won’t get it until the Baggage Carousel at your final destination.  In which case, you might find a baby carrier useful or a Trunki that your child can ride on.

Where will I get my buggy returned to me?

There is no firm rule on this and you might find what actually happens is different to what you were told!  If you hand your buggy in at Check-In, the likelihood is that you will receive it at the Baggage Carousel.  If you take the buggy with you to the Gate, in most cases it is handed back to you when you disembark the plane (although in US for Health & Safety reasons, it often goes to the Baggage Carousel).  Remember to ask the air stewards exactly where to go e.g. at the aircraft door, once inside the terminal building.  On this note, be prepared for a wait!  The buggy might come within minutes or up to half an hour.

Top Tips

At the Gate it’s always worth asking if they can stow your buggy onboard for you rather than in the hold as you will definitely get it when you disembark the plane.

I’d also recommend that you take a baby carrier to use after you’ve handed your buggy in.  Check out my review of the Ergo carrier here.  

2 comments

  1. Jennifer Saranow Schultz (aka Hint Mama)

    I’m a big fan now of checking our car seat rather than renting a car seat from a car rental agency at our destination. More on that here: http://hintmama.com/2013/12/30/todays-hint-instead-of-renting-a-car-seat-check-it-for-free-on-your-next-flight/

  2. Teresa B. Maxwell

    Thanks for sharing and yes, I think it’s always best to check in your buggy at the counter rather that in the gate.

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