How To Protect Your Stroller When Flying (without Spending a Fortune)

Published on:

If you have spent hundreds of dollars on a stroller then you may cringe at the idea of baggage handlers tossing it around out the back of an airport terminal and causing damage that could make it unusable.

Fortunately, you have options! Some are out of the box and will cost money, others are clever hacks that you can DIY for minimal cost.

In this post, we will discuss how to best protect your stroller so that it can make it through the baggage handling process unscathed.

We will also cover all of your check-in options so you understand the process before arriving at the airport.

Stroller Check-In Options

Where you decide to check in will determine how much preparation work you can do before arriving at the airport.

Most airlines allow the checking of a stroller without additional charges but you should check the policy on where this needs to be completed. Your options are:

  • Counter – You can check your stroller at the same time as your luggage. This allows you to arrive with a fully protected stroller.
  • Gate – If you need to use the stroller around the airport terminal then it may be an option to use right up until boarding where you can check it a the gate.

If you go with option two, then anything you use to protect your stroller for the flight will need to be carried with you through airport security which can limit your options.

8 Ways Protect Your Stroller When Flying

In this section, we will look at practical options to prepare your stroller to minimize the potential for damage in transit. We have provided a high-level guide on the cost involved for this option, and the level of convenience (high, mid, low).

As with most things in life, you can spend money to buy convenience. But there are a number of low-cost and free options that just require a bit of elbow grease.

how to protect stroller when flying

Use a Stroller Bag

  • Protection: Medium
  • Cost: $20 – $40
  • Convenience: High

Stroller bags are the quickest and easiest way to protect your stroller when flying.

This will act like a large duffle bag that can be tied off to encapsulate your stroller in seconds. While this is a very convenient option, the polyester fabric used is still a soft shell.

You will have protection from moisture, sharp edges, and any loose components will not go missing. However, your stroller frame will still be subjected to all of the impact as it gets tossed around. So it will not always prevent your stroller getting damaged.

Most bags are very lightweight, can fit a single or double stroller, and have a few different carrying options to help make parents’ lives a bit easier.

Pack Your Stroller in the Original Box

  • Protection: High
  • Cost: Free!
  • Convenience: High

If you had the foresight (and the space!) to keep the original stroller box then you will not get better protection when in transit.

The box and packaging were designed specifically to prevent damage when being shipped around the world. The best part is that it is the best free option!

Bubble Wrap the Stroller

  • Protection: High
  • Cost: $10 – $15
  • Convenience: Medium

A couple of layers of bubble wrap that is secured tightly with tape can offer excellent protection and will take you seconds to do.

The thicker the wrap, and more layers you add, the better off you will be. But the critical point is how tight and secure it is. If it unravels in transit then your stroller could come out of the baggage claim in pieces.

The moral here is to use good quality tape (and lots of it).

Plastic Wrap

  • Protection: Medium
  • Cost: $10 – $15
  • Convenience: High

You can do this on-site at the airport for a fee and will get a tightly wrapped stroller that will hold together well once checked in.

However, you don’t get the bubble protection of the frame to cushion the impact of being thrown around. So slightly less effective but very convenient if you need to use the stroller until check-in time.

Zip Ties Frame Together

  • Protection: Low
  • Cost: $2
  • Convenience: Medium

We are peeling another layer back here and just focussing on holding the stroller frame tightly in it’s collapsed position.

This will ensure that your frame will not get bent out of shape and that components do not get disfigured or lost.

It will not prevent scratches, water damage, and other general wear and tear. But if you are ok with this then it is a low-cost option.

The best part is that when you arrive at your destination you can pop it open in the baggage claim area and use it straight away… If you can find any scissors.

Wrap the Wheels

  • Protection: Low
  • Cost: $0 – $5
  • Convenience: Low

If you are planning to use the zip tie method then you should also pay attention to the wheels. They will be exposed and without wheels, you have a useless stroller frame.

You can wrap them in anything around the house that will hold them in place. A plastic bag taped in place, or even a smaller roll of bubble wrap just covering the wheels.

Anything is better than nothing.

Protect Foam Handles

  • Protection: Low
  • Cost: $5
  • Convenience: Medium

Another particularly vulnerable part of your stroller is the foam handles. This is low on our list as any damage will not make your stroller unusable but it can be the starting point of serious deterioration of your pram experience.

You can protect the handles from anything sharp that your stroller may encounter by using thick duct tape that can be easily unwound on arrival. We prefer the bubble wrap method so you have a layer of protection, but again something is better than nothing.

Our next tip offers nearly foolproof protection for handles as well (it is just a nuisance to do!).

DIY Pool Noodle Protection

  • Protection: Medium
  • Cost: $5
  • Convenience: Low

A cheap pool noodle can offer great protection for critical components of your stroller. You can cut them up and fit to the frame of your stroller. It is quick and easy to do, but still more work than most other options on this list.

If you have an unused pool noodle laying around then go for it. I wouldn’t buy one just to slice up – your money is better spent on other easier options.

Airport Travel

Extra Hacks to Prevent Stroller Damage

Carry-On (Small Strollers Only)

If your stroller folds up and does not take up much space it may be an option to bring on the plane. You should check the airline’s policies before you attempt this as size restrictions will apply.

If you can take it on board and store it in the overhead bin then any damage is unlikely.

Airport Courtesy Strollers

A gate check-in can be stressful and in many cases unnecessary. Plenty of modern airports will have strollers you can use within the terminal that you can use up until you board.

This can make it much easier to move a child around a crowded airport.

Again, you should check with the relevant airport or airline to see if this is an option for you.

Travel With Your Back Up Stroller

Strollers can be expensive!! Even if you apply these tips to protect your stroller when flying there is still a possibility that an airline could lose your stroller.

You can eliminate this risk by leaving the premium thousand-dollar stroller at home and bringing the cheap one that no one cares about.

This brings us to our next tip…

Buy One On Arrival

You can buy a cheap umbrella stroller from a big box store at your destination for as little as $20. It won’t be the best stroller to use but for a short-term trip it could be adequate.

This eliminates the hassle of having to travel with a stroller completely. You could potentially substitute with a baby carrier that is suitable for travel instead. This is much easier to use in an airport and plane with smaller children.

Before you return you can donate it to a charity, or just discard it.

Fly in Off-Peak Times

While the concept of a less busy airport may seem laughable in 2022, you may have an easier time with your stroller if you fly on what has traditionally been slower travel days.

This usually means a Tuesday or Wednesday in the middle of the day, or early on a Sunday morning.

Is the Airline Responsible for Damage to a Stroller

The US Department of Transportation states that:

  • For DOMESTIC travel, airlines are not required to compensate passengers for items they have excluded in their contracts of carriage.
  • For INTERNATIONAL travel (including the domestic segment of an international itinerary), airlines are responsible for these items if they have accepted them for transportation. This applies even if passengers did not disclose, when they checked-in, that these items were packed in the bag.

If your stroller does get damaged by an airline you may find that protections offered are limited.

While you may be able to make a travel insurance claim if you have a policy, at the end of the day it is your responsibility to make sure your stroller is well protected so it makes it off the airplane in one piece.

Summary

You now have multiple options to help make traveling with a stroller a safer proposition. But feel free to get creative with your protection ideas.

You just need to secure your stroller in a collapsed position, protect the components, and limit the risk of any parts breaking off and being lost.

Sharing is caring!

Photo of author
Author
James is our general tech. guy, product testing extraordinaire, and loving father of one. He has been with katherinerosman.com since 2016 and has a hand in most of the content on the site.

Leave a Comment