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Car Seat Gate check or luggage check

kikileep434
New Arrival

Hi - my husband and I are traveling with our baby the weekend before Christmas.  We have to change planes, so is it better to check our carseat when we check our bags or better to check it at the gate?  We have to have the carseat, so I want the safest option to guarantee we have it when we arrive at our final destination.  Thank you!

15 REPLIES 15

Re: Car Seat Gate check or luggage check

sarahsmith
Active Member
Solution

Hi kikileep434!

Sounds like your family will have a nice trip for Christmas!

This is really a great question and one of the toughest to decide on as traveling parents of littles. So there's a couple things I would say.

1. If you have purchased a seat for your baby, or if there is extra empty seating available, you can very likely bring the car seat onto the plane with you. In my experience, with babies, this works great because it's a familiar and safe place for them to sit during the flight. And, as an added benefit, you know exactly where your car seat is when you land on the other side.

2. That said, I know it's not always an option, to bring it on the plane for a few reasons. If this is the case, I recommend taking the seat to the gate with you and gate checking it. You will have to grab it as you switch planes (you will always leave it in the jet bridge just before boarding; that's where it will be when you exit the plane too), that's not a big deal. It's a little bit of a pain to tow around in the airport, but it will give you the peace of mind of knowing you'll have it when you land.

When you go through security, it should fit onto the belt and go through the scanner (I typically lay mine face down). I usually bring my smaller stroller with me too and push the car seat in that (if my husband is with me he'll carry baby, otherwise I wear her).

I just learned about the Southwest car seat bag too, which seems like a great deal (without having seen it in person, anyway). "An optional Southwest-branded reusable car seat/stroller bag is available for purchase at any Southwest Airlines ticket counter for a $15 one time fee.)"

Have a great trip! Feel free to ask any other questions! My kids (aged 4 and 1) have been on about 65 and 10 flights, respectively. So we've traveled every which way, I'm happy to take a stab at any questions you may think of.

-Sarah

 

P.S. Don't forget to utilize family boarding! It happens just after A group and they'll call you up to board so you have enough time to get situated!

Re: Car Seat Gate check or luggage check

kikileep434
New Arrival

Thank you very much for your help!

Re: Car Seat Gate check or luggage check

DancingDavidE
Top Contributer

We love our $15 bags which keep things from being scuffed incidentally, and also I think adds visibility. We use one for checking the pack and play too (check that at curbside), and then taking the stroller and car seat together in a second blue bag for gate check.

 

David

 

Home airport MDW, frequent visitor to MCO to see the mouse.

Re: Car Seat Gate check or luggage check

alisonli88
New Arrival

I'm about to be travelling with my 2yr old daughter alone. We will be having a seat each. 

1) how many checked bags&carry ons are we allowed?

2) can i bag check a car seat? Is there a charge? Will this be in addition to bag check allowance?

3) can i also gate check a stroller? Is there a charge?

4) is family boarding always available?

5) is there family security lines? Or do we wait in a regular line?

Re: Car Seat Gate check or luggage check

sarahsmith
Active Member
Solution

Hi alisonli88! Welcome to the community. 

 

1) With two paid seats, you each get two checked bags, weighing less than 50lbs, for free. 

 

2) You may check your car seat with your bags if you'd like. It is free and does not count as one of your two free bags. 

 

3) You may gate check your stroller. It is free. Just make sure it gets a destination tag. 

 

4) Family Boarding is always available to families with children 6 and under. It occurs after the A Group has boarded. They will usually call for "families with small children". 

 

5) This may be airport specific, I'd check your local airport's website for this and lots of other good-to-know info. I am unaware of an airport with a family security lane, but that's doesn't mean they don't exist!

 

Have a great trip!

Re: Car Seat Gate check or luggage check

Adrian_Otto
New Arrival

Your other questions were all answered, but I wanted to add an additional answer about family security lines. A previous reply was correct about this depending on the airport. Many airports will have someone monitoring the security line, usually at the point where you choose where to go to line up. If there is a family option, they will direct you to it at that point. Usually you will be allowed to skip most of the long wait for the TSA agent to check your identification and boarding passes. Your children will not need to take off their shoes.

 

Note also that if you do plan on travelling internationally with your kids at any point, you might consider getting a Global Entry card for the whole family. This automatically gives you TSA pre-check as well, which speeds you through security. Even at the largest airports, I rarely spend more than 10 minutes getting through security, even travelling as a family of 6. Re-entry to the USA with Global Entry cards shaves off what might otherwise be an hour of waiting as well. For us, it was well worth the $75/each expense for that. It lasts 5 years before it needs renewal.

Re: Car Seat Gate check or luggage check

golanamt
New Arrival

Read an article that responds to this type of case.  https://amt-pro.com/blogs/news/to-bring-or-not-to-bring-that-is-the-question awesome resolution to the same issue. I hope this helps.

Re: Car Seat Gate check or luggage check

chgoflyer
Top Contributer
Solution

@Adrian_Otto wrote:

Your other questions were all answered, but I wanted to add an additional answer about family security lines. A previous reply was correct about this depending on the airport. Many airports will have someone monitoring the security line, usually at the point where you choose where to go to line up. If there is a family option, they will direct you to it at that point. Usually you will be allowed to skip most of the long wait for the TSA agent to check your identification and boarding passes. Your children will not need to take off their shoes.

 

Note also that if you do plan on travelling internationally with your kids at any point, you might consider getting a Global Entry card for the whole family. This automatically gives you TSA pre-check as well, which speeds you through security. Even at the largest airports, I rarely spend more than 10 minutes getting through security, even travelling as a family of 6. Re-entry to the USA with Global Entry cards shaves off what might otherwise be an hour of waiting as well. For us, it was well worth the $75/each expense for that. It lasts 5 years before it needs renewal.


FYI: TSA doesn't actually have "family security lines" anymore. About 10 years ago they tested using specific Diamond Self-Select lanes for groups such as "Expert Travelers," "Casual Travelers," and "Families/Special Assistance," but that was fairly short lived.

 

Currently: If an adult who has TSA PreCheck is traveling with children age 12 and under and they should utilize the PreCheck lane, where the children will be accommodated under PreCheck guidelines as well.

 

If no one in the party has PreCheck, children age 12 and under are still subject to special "PreCheck-like" security in the "regular" lanes. More about that here:

 

Travel » Special Procedures » Traveling with Children

 

As to the original question:

 

Regardless of whether checked at the baggage check or gate, strollers and car seats are accepted conditionally on Southwest (and most other domestic carriers). This means that they will cover them should they get lost in transit, but they do not cover any damages, should they get broken after being checked.

 

I've found that Southwest is great about letting you used your car seat onboard, even if you've not paid for a seat for the infant, as long as there is a seat available. Unfortunately, many flights are completely sold out these days, so certainly buy a seat for your infant if you'd absolutely like one. If you do check a car seat or stroller, (at the gate or as baggage) I'd recommend using a cover bag to help avoid them getting dirty and/or damaged.

 

Here's a great resource:

 

20 Airline Stroller Policies Around the World

 

 

Re: Car Seat Gate check or luggage check

Angeleyez61
New Arrival

Is it hard to check in a car seat an stroller with your bags I will be traveling with my 4 month old for the first time an don’t know what all I need to do but I’ll need a car seat an stroller when we get to BWI airport from Texas.