Mandatory Check-in of Strollers over 20 lbs beginning June 1st, 2011

Discussion in 'American Airlines | AAdvantage' started by Kaanapali, May 20, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Kaanapali
    Original Member

    Kaanapali Gold Member

    Messages:
    71,234
    Likes Received:
    228,224
    Status Points:
    19,995
    "Effective June 1, 2011, all strollers that are large, non-collapsible or over 20 lbs must be checked at the ticket counter."
    See http://www.aa.com/i18n/travelInformation/specialAssistance/childrenTraveling.jsp

    This is not going to make a lot of people happy - especially considering the relative lack of publicity of this change, and the distance of a typical large airport from checkin to the gate (For those who do not know, up until now most strollers were permitted to be gate-checked, thus allowing you to transport your baby/toddler to the gate in safety).

    In addition, the way this is further explained by AA later on this page is problematic at best:

    "Effective June 1, 2011, large, jogging, non-collapsible strollers, or those over 20 lbs will no longer be accepted at the gate and therefore must be checked at the ticket counter. There is no charge as long as a child or infant is traveling."

    If not told at the ticket/checkin counter (or if the family is doing just carryons for a short trip and thus have no checked luggage), it is quite conceivable that most families' first notice of this change will be at the gate!

    Finally, what defines the category of large? If one has a collapsible stroller that weighs 15 pounds, what determines if it can/cannot be gate-checked??
     
    Mrs Chimpy, Chimpy and Tenmoc like this.
  2. Kaanapali
    Original Member

    Kaanapali Gold Member

    Messages:
    71,234
    Likes Received:
    228,224
    Status Points:
    19,995
    To help those wondering what will and will not work...I have edited AA's provided chart at http://www.aa.com/i18n/travelInformation/specialAssistance/childrenTraveling.jsp#strollerdisclaimer to reflect the changes effective June 1, 2011
    Stroller Acceptance For a Ticketed or Lap Child

    Umbrella Stroller
    • AA highly recommends using this type of stroller
    • May be taken onboard the aircraft as long as it fits in the overhead bin
    • Exempt from carry-on allowance and baggage charges
    • May be checked at the gate
    Fully Collapsible Stroller Weighing Less Than 20 lbs.
    • May be checked at the ticket counter
    • May be checked at the gate
    • May not be carried on the aircraft
    • Exempt from baggage charges
    Large Stroller or Non-Collapsible Stroller or Heavy Stroller Weighing Over 20 lbs.- STARTING JUNE 1, 2011
    • May be ONLY checked at the ticket counter
    • May not be carried on the aircraft
    • Exempt from baggage charges
     
  3. ChicagoEric
    Original Member

    ChicagoEric Silver Member

    Messages:
    209
    Likes Received:
    216
    Status Points:
    420
    So if I check in online and pre-print my boarding passes, go through security with a stroller weighing more than 20 lbs. and then get to the gate, are they going to send me back to the ticket counter? Furthermore, will their be scales at the gate?
     
  4. Kaanapali
    Original Member

    Kaanapali Gold Member

    Messages:
    71,234
    Likes Received:
    228,224
    Status Points:
    19,995
    What will probably happen is that they will utilize same procedure as for those "carryons" that are too big - effectively check them at the gate....but they will be placed in baggage and thus not brought back up to the gateway when you arrive...but instead sent to baggage claim.

    I totally doubt there will be a scale ...instead I presume the agent will just lift the stroller and determine (in her/his judgment) whether its too heavy or not.... :eek:
     
    Mrs Chimpy likes this.
  5. Tenmoc
    Original Member

    Tenmoc Gold Member

    Messages:
    31,882
    Likes Received:
    212,880
    Status Points:
    20,020
    Is the point of this maybe to point out that they will now charge for gate checked items? Specifically strollers?
     
  6. Kaanapali
    Original Member

    Kaanapali Gold Member

    Messages:
    71,234
    Likes Received:
    228,224
    Status Points:
    19,995
    I do not think so, given the exemptions from baggage charges (presuming you have a toddler/baby travelling with you). I simply think they do not want to have to lug the heavier strollers down from the jetway and then back to the jetway (which is a priority thing to do in most airports).

    This rule will probably only eliminate 50% of the lugging around...as most parents either will not know of the policy...or know and try to get their strollers checked anyways at the gate.....
     
    Exiled in Express and Tenmoc like this.
  7. viguera
    Original Member

    viguera Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,737
    Likes Received:
    6,913
    Status Points:
    4,745
    They probably won't now, but weight is weight... My guess is that BIG heavy strollers will eventually have to be checked in at a cost, even if it's not the same as luggage.

    I think the average person that flies with a stroller knows that they're better off with a smaller travel one, even if it's not an umbrella one, rather than dragging a behemoth with them through the airport. We bought a Quinny Buzz and even though it's aluminum it's still a hefty 28 pounds, and 3' x 2' x 1' folded. No way we're taking that on a trip... it doesn't fit through most car trunk openings and it's horribly unweildy.
     
    Kaanapali and Tenmoc like this.
  8. gemac
    Original Member

    gemac Silver Member

    Messages:
    1,027
    Likes Received:
    1,077
    Status Points:
    900
    Most people who fly frequently with their baby will buy a travel stroller. Quite a few people take their baby with them because it's FREE, therefore making it a lower-cost option than something that might cost as much as $20. They will fly with their baby only once while it qualifies as a lap infant, therefore they won't want to buy a travel stroller.
     
    Tenmoc likes this.
  9. NYBanker
    Original Member

    NYBanker Gold Member

    Messages:
    32,725
    Likes Received:
    191,901
    Status Points:
    20,020
    Airlines' stroller policies have frustrated me for a while. Thankfully my kids are out of the stroller scene, so while it doesn't impact me much any longer, in general, strollers are tough all around.

    First, I've seen numerous strollers go through the security checkpoint, too big for the x-ray machine, merely get a cursory check by tsa staff. Large pockets unchecked...lots of bad stuff could be in there. Not good. Tsa, if you're going to check everything else, include a rigorous check of strollers too please.

    Second, strollers come in so many different shapes and sizes, it is difficult for a carrier to make a standardized rule for strollers. Indeed, there are now some three-pack strollers that night not even fit down smaller jetways! (only a bit of an exaggeration) I can see how a carrier wouldn't want these gate checked seeking plane side return. Too tough to get up and down the jetway stairs. The ambiguity of what is "large" however will invariable cause conflict. "sir, that is a large stroller, you have to check it. ... But I took it to the gate on my last flight!" etc etc. No way this will be enforced in a standard manner.

    Finally, we bought an ultra compact stroller. Our family of 4 buys first class tickets. The stroller we bought was so small it fit under the seat in a standard 2+2 f configuration and easily fit in the overhead locker. Of course, it failed the sizer test...it was too long. I got it on board a few times...but most of the time got knocked back plane side. We used far less than our overall hand baggage allowance and a few times FAs noted that when letting us on, but more often, they'd simply say strollers are not allowed (once with a deltalina-style wag of the finger). Despite the sizer issue, more than once ive seen guitars and other instruments in board which clearly don't fit. I wrote to DL to ask for a clarification of their policy some years back. I received a letter back (not a form letter) saying that they researched their policies for "several hours" and they couldn't find any stipulation regarding strollers. They did say the crew could elect to enforce sizer requirements, but noted in their letter that these were "loosely enforced, only when needed." Again, sort of leaving it ambiguous...which can only lead to conflict.

    Once, after landing at JFK on DL, the full 757 had long since emptied but no sign of our stroller as we waited. Finally the DL First Officer went out in the rain to fetch it for us...certainly above and beyond...which I appreciated. letter sent to DL citing him by name.

    Overall, the stroller experience is far from perfect...and this new set of regs will just muddy things more. Why musical instruments get dispensation and strollers don't still confuses me. My old compact stroller probably would have fit in a guitar case....maybe that's what I should have tried!
     
  10. gemac
    Original Member

    gemac Silver Member

    Messages:
    1,027
    Likes Received:
    1,077
    Status Points:
    900
    It seems to me that this new set of regs makes it easier. An umbrella stroller can always come on the plane and go in the overhead bin (as long as there is bin room when you board). Just get an umbrella stroller for travel, and problem solved.
     
  11. NYBanker
    Original Member

    NYBanker Gold Member

    Messages:
    32,725
    Likes Received:
    191,901
    Status Points:
    20,020
    I will wager you haven't brought a stroller on in a while. If you read my post, you'd see i say i had a stroller that fit easily in the overhead lockers. Even though I was sitting in first, and with four seats in my party, the vast majority of the times (on both DL and AA), I was told I needed to check the mini-umbrella stroller when crossing from the jet bridge to the plane. A fairly large set of FAs took the view that all strollers needed to be checked, despite mine more than obviously fitting. The few times I got one on board, the FA was distracted or looking the other way and I simply moved by quickly.

    Have you had different experiences in the last ten years traveling with a stroller?

    In fairness, I have never seen a stroller that would meet all the sizer dimensions, so if AA or DL want to enforce that, that is clearly their prerogative. To be consistent, however, I'd like to see them gate check a musical instrument that doesn't fit in the size some time as well.
     
    Kaanapali likes this.
  12. gemac
    Original Member

    gemac Silver Member

    Messages:
    1,027
    Likes Received:
    1,077
    Status Points:
    900
    But that was before the new regs. Now you can print out the regs to show the FAs..
     
  13. abk
    Original Member

    abk Silver Member

    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    46
    Status Points:
    195
    Could you possibly be a bit naive on this one. Have you tried showing the regs to a gate agent or FA in the heat of battle?
     
    NYBanker likes this.
  14. gemac
    Original Member

    gemac Silver Member

    Messages:
    1,027
    Likes Received:
    1,077
    Status Points:
    900
    No, but I still think it is better to have something in writing saying umbrella strollers are permitted in the cabin than not to have it. YMMV.
     
  15. GUWonder
    Original Member

    GUWonder Silver Member

    Messages:
    172
    Likes Received:
    116
    Status Points:
    375
    What drove the need to change formalized policy about such items now? In the past couple of years there has not been a tremendous change in the size and weight and styles of strollers used to transport infants and toddlers.

    Were a lot more gate-checked and cabin-stored strollers being broken by AA as of late and thus resulting in damage claims? Were they contributing to increased delays to load/unload the gate-checked bags since the airlines made such a big mess of gate-checked bags and finding overhead bin space by not granting a free checked bag to all customers?

    When the bins are full, I am betting that even small, collapsible "umbrella" strollers will still end up being gate-checked in some form or another; and this published policy that says they are allowed in the cabin won't necessarily make a difference for any and all circumstances, whether there is still space in the bins at time of boarding or not.

    This is going to hit harder those with very young infants or with special needs infants/toddlers than it will be for those with older infants/toddlers. And what is this going to do for those with those cheap car-seat-come-stroller "travel" systems?

    For those who will henceforth have to check in strollers at the check-in counter as a result of this policy, will the airline try to get more and more of such customers to sign a waiver of liability for damage if the stroller is not boxed somehow? Do they still have or sell boxes (and tape) at airports for boxing up the stroller?

    This upcoming change seems to have nothing to do with making travel easier for those who find a use/need for a stroller to transport infants/toddlers at airports prior to boarding a plane.
     
    Kaanapali and NYBanker like this.
  16. NYBanker
    Original Member

    NYBanker Gold Member

    Messages:
    32,725
    Likes Received:
    191,901
    Status Points:
    20,020
    +1
     
  17. gemac
    Original Member

    gemac Silver Member

    Messages:
    1,027
    Likes Received:
    1,077
    Status Points:
    900
    What is driving this is very likely checked baggage fees, which has resulted in many passengers trying to get by with only carry-ons. This has resulted in fuller bins, more passengers trying to cram larger items into bins, more gate-checked carry-ons, and longer times for aircraft on the ground. Strollers that have no chance at all of getting into overhead bins are now being transported as checked baggage.

    When the bins are full, everything else that doesn't fit under the seat in front gets gate-checked, because there isn't any other place to put it. No change there, and that's why elites value their pre-boarding privilege.

    The only changes to prior policy are:
    1. Giant strollers go as checked baggage.
    The only ones "hit harder" are those parents with giant strollers. They are "hit harder" only in the sense that instead of somebody having to portage their giant stroller down the jetbridge steps and put it into the baggage compartment, and then take it out of the baggage compartment and portage it up the jetbridge steps upon arrival, it follows the same path as all the other baggage that travels in the baggage compartment. They are presumably relatively young and active, so carrying their infant to the gate shouldn't be beyond their capabilities. These parents have a way to avoid being "hit harder" - choose a smaller stroller for use when flying.

    Oddly, most changes don't have anything to do with making travel easier for passengers, they have to do with making running an airline easier. :rolleyes: Parents with lap infants get many special privileges that others don't get to make their flying easier. They get to take the infant free. They get to take the stroller free. They get to take a "diaper bag" with diapers and anything else in it free of charge. They get to take a car seat for the infant free of charge (it just doesn't travel in the cabin for a lap infant). They get to bring large quantities of liquids through screening. Where they are now having to follow the same rules as everybody else is this: if bring an item that they know won't fit in the bins, they have to check it at check-in unless they can hide it from the check-in agent.
     
  18. GUWonder
    Original Member

    GUWonder Silver Member

    Messages:
    172
    Likes Received:
    116
    Status Points:
    375
    Strollers are exempted from checked bag fees still, so forcing parents/guardians to check in strollers won't get money for AA that way. And checked bag fees have been in place for years, so that leading to full bins doesn't explain the timing of this change.

    Those transporting infants/toddlers aren't always in the best of shape to physically carry an infant/toddler relatively long distances in their arms. Even the physically strong can trip, and tripping with a baby in the arms is more likely to injure the baby more seriously than tripping while with a larger stroller that has a strapped in child. When some small child gets injured -- say during a transit at DFW or ORD or JFK if not at an airport at which the trip is originating or terminating -- in a way that may not have been the case absent this policy change, it will be interesting to see what happens then.
     
    ChicagoEric, Kaanapali and NYBanker like this.
  19. NYBanker
    Original Member

    NYBanker Gold Member

    Messages:
    32,725
    Likes Received:
    191,901
    Status Points:
    20,020
    OT: Even when my kids were <2 years old, I always bought them a seat. Seemed a small price to pay for the precaution of having the kids belted in.

    Indeed, once on an AA flight (SEA-JFK), we hit some unexpected turbulence strong enough that one of the FAs fell over while walking in the aisle. Assuming I wasn't holding my child in a really snug hold (unlikely that I would have been holding a lap child super tight during normal flight operations), who knows where he would have ended up.
     
    ChicagoEric, gemac and Kaanapali like this.
  20. mrsmortis
    Original Member

    mrsmortis Silver Member

    Messages:
    99
    Likes Received:
    105
    Status Points:
    335
    I've never been allowed to do an online check in while travelling with my daughter. I am forced to check in at the airport.(And I could go on for hours about the fact that this means that if we are travelling short haul there is almost no likelyhood of us getting seats together so we have to beg someone to swap with us once we get on the plane - just another way for the airlines to make it harder for those of us travelling with small children) Not that I've travelled with many US domestic carriers but so far the list includes AZ, AF, BM, EZY, F9, KL, UA.

    On the stroller issue I long ago came to the conclusion that it's better to have a sling for a small baby and a Trunki for a toddler/small child. The only problem with this is that the small child can't sleep on Trunki but it's quite possible to run through a terminal with them sat on one.
     
    Lyssa and ChicagoEric like this.
  21. bez7
    Original Member

    bez7 Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,218
    Likes Received:
    3,427
    Status Points:
    1,970
    Guess I won't fly AA with kids. Having twins really cramps the style, and since we own this:

    http://www.amazon.com/Maclaren-Triumph-Stroller-Coffee-Silver/dp/B001LF3W1W

    we'd have to check it. No Way am I walking twin two year olds through the airport, especially when we're already doing our best to limit the impact our stroller has. And I'm not going to leave this one at home and go spend more money on two single strollers. Maybe I should just get AA to pay for someone to wheel multiple wheelchairs or to drive us on a motorized cart.

    And I'm curious how they'll check for the 4lb difference since it's still a collapsible umbrella-type stroller...I understand they're trying to limit the huge strollers but this is just ridiculous.
     
    ChicagoEric and Kaanapali like this.
  22. DesertRose
    Original Member

    DesertRose Silver Member

    Messages:
    296
    Likes Received:
    768
    Status Points:
    670
    I'm guessing they had a few too many parents like this: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1305109

    Some of those things have 20-inch wheels and weigh more than 40 lbs! But since the adjectives "large, jogging, non-collapsable" leave room for a parent to argue, (No - this is an all-terrain stroller, not a jogging stroller!) they threw the 20 lbs in there as a final defense.

    Any 'reasonable' stroller (like bez7's) will probably be accepted.
     
    gomike likes this.
  23. GUWonder
    Original Member

    GUWonder Silver Member

    Messages:
    172
    Likes Received:
    116
    Status Points:
    375
    But none of the above would be new, right? Have you ever seen a stroller with 20-inch wheels at the gate of any airport anywhere in the US or that AA services? Even in other places that have the biggest strollers that are most routinely highest off the ground due to large wheels amongst other things (read: Scandinavian countries), I've never seen anyone try to take such a large stroller beyond the security checkpoint. Perhaps I haven't been looking hard enough, but even then I can't see how such large strollers would be a bigger issue for the airline now than before. And yet this change from AA now.

    I certainly can foresee situations of the sort you brought up -- situations where the weight limit in the policy would be used as some kind of quantitative line in the sand to back up an AA crackdown being performed by an airline agent or contractor once a person with a stroller has been flagged by an airline agent or contractor.
     
    Kaanapali likes this.
  24. DesertRose
    Original Member

    DesertRose Silver Member

    Messages:
    296
    Likes Received:
    768
    Status Points:
    670
    I have seen a couple of jogging-type strollers in DFW airport in the past few months, but I didn't note the wheel size.

    I suspect it may take a year or two for the need for such a policy change to work up from the gate agents to management and a year or two to work its way down to customers. (It took a year or two to get the CoC changed to reflect the actual airport policy of using sizers to check carryons.) So the 'why now' could be as long as 2-4 years, possibly due to one of these reasons:

    1. A bad incident (like an employee was injured or a $900 stroller was damaged) due to the difficulty of moving said stroller down a flight of stairs
    2. Due to increased popularity of jogging strollers or decreased reluctance of parents to travel with these strollers, the number of incidents with such strollers has increased.
    3. They were running out of luggage space or having problems with on-time departures for flights to MCO.
    4. AA has a special luggage committee to implement policies that maximally inconvenience pax. ;)

    This is total WAG on my part. The answer is "I don't know."
     
    gomike likes this.
  25. GUWonder
    Original Member

    GUWonder Silver Member

    Messages:
    172
    Likes Received:
    116
    Status Points:
    375
    I have seen those too at airports across the country, but the wheels didn't seem that big for those which are collapsible. Does the following jogger with 20-inch wheels http://www.babyjogger.com/perf_sngl_dtl.aspx weigh more than 20lbs collapsed (if it's even considered collapsible)? It seems to weigh around 20lbs or IIRC a bit less than 20lbs, but I've never seen such a thing airside with its owner/transporter trying to gate check it.

    I'm not sure the empty, collapsible jogger-style strollers which I've seen airside and gate-checked weigh more than some of the heavier gate-checked wheeled bags -- 20-30lbs being rather ordinary weight for items which gets placed in overhead bins or are tossed/taken down from the jetbridge/gate area as gate-checked items.

    I'm also not sure there has been a big rise in the number of people trying to take non-collapsible joggers to the gate for gate-checking, especially as I was of the thought that (unlike in various parts of the world outside of the US) demand for more expensive strollers -- large-wheeled non-collapsible jogger-style ones included -- would not have held up so well in the US in the 2008-2010 period. [However, people do seem to find money to spend on children even when the economic situation is far from great (which explains in part why items branded for babies quite often are being sold for a premium compared to a comparable item not marketed for infant/toddler use but that could be a functional substitute and why their MSRPs may be sticky as it is).]

    Those who frequent flights to MCO and (somewhat less so) from MCO during peak family travel periods may have seen a lot more of stroller owners/users pushing the limits of what the airline can handle nearer to the departing plane (i.e. at the gate, on the jetbridge on the tarmac). I've just not seen a real problem with collapsible strollers on my trips to/from MCO or elsewhere that doesn't pale in comparison to the issue of ordinary gate-checked bags on the same flights.
     
    Kaanapali likes this.

Share This Page