When packing your child's gear, your carry-on bag and your personal stuff through the airport, a slow-moving toddler or cranky kid can only add more stress to your travel plans. Having an umbrella stroller means you have a convenient, lightweight solution to get your child from point A to point B and a handy stroller for your various activities. Checking your stroller at the gate means you don't need to go a minute sans stroller, which could mean fewer tantrums from your child -- and you.
Contact your airline for policies on strollers ahead of time. While an umbrella stroller is a common gate check item, some airlines have weight restrictions. For instance, American Airlines does not allow non-collapsible strollers or strollers over 20 lbs. at the gate check and requires that they be checked as baggage instead.
Indicate that you'll be gate checking your stroller when you check in at the airline desk. While it is possible to check your umbrella stroller through when you check in, you lose the use of your umbrella stroller until you pick it up in baggage claim at your destination. By gate checking instead, you're able to utilize the stroller to help transport your tot through security and to your gate before checking it with the airline.
Remove your child from the stroller and fold it according to the manufacturer directions. Place the stroller flat on the conveyer belt before going through the scanner. Send the stroller through security as you would any other bag or personal item as you and your child go through the metal detector or scanner.
Pick up your stroller after it's been scanned. At this point, you're free to unfold the stroller and use it to transport your child to your gate.
Ask the customer service representative at the front desk of your gate for a gate check tag. This tag tells freight workers that your stroller is to be stowed in cargo and returned at your next stop. Affix the tag to a visible area on your umbrella stroller -- the handle works well.
Give your boarding passes to the customer service representative and bring your stroller to the bottom of the jetway. You'll see a door leading outside just before you board the aircraft, usually to your right. Fold your umbrella stroller properly and then use any locking mechanism that it may have. Lay the stroller on the floor in front of the jetway outer door. When the freight worker comes to check, he'll see the gate check tag and stow your stroller in cargo.
If you are flying on a smaller plane, there will be a designated gate check area on the tarmac, where you can leave your stroller to be stowed.
Exit the plane after your flight and stand by the jetway door, even if you're not at your final destination. Gate checked items are returned after each flight and will not be automatically transferred to your connecting flight. A worker will bring your gate checked items to you. Check the stroller over for any signs of damage before unfolding it and using it to transport your child to baggage claim or your next gate.
If you checked your umbrella stroller as baggage, you'll need to pick it up in baggage claim. Keep in mind that an umbrella stroller will count toward your baggage limit.