What stroller can I take on a plane?

Travelling with a child? Here is all the information you need about lightweight travel strollers

Cybex travel stroller in overhead locker
(Image credit: Cybex)

If, like us, you’ve been looking forward to a holiday for far too long, you’ll want it to be as relaxing as possible when you finally manage to jump on a plane. Yes, this could be a challenge if you have a baby or toddler in tow, but trust us, the right set of wheels will make your life a lot easier.

There are more lightweight and compact buggies than ever that are designed to make navigating customs (and most important Duty-Free) a breeze, while being easy to fold and stow in the hold, or even squeezed into the overhead lockers, without breaking into the sort of sweat you’d expect from an adventure holiday somewhere on the equator. You can find our recommendations for these in the best lightweight travel stroller buying guide.

And unlike certain budget airlines, some of the more luxe offerings come with little extras, such as comprehensive sun coverings and shopping cubbies, which are perfect for carrying some souvenirs… although maybe not a large straw donkey.

Buckle up and check out our pick of high-flying strollers perfect for planes, with folding systems and lightweight frames good enough to stop you considering using one of emergency exits before you even get to your destination. Bon voyage!

What are the rules?

If you’re off on holiday this year, you’ll be navigating a lot of new rules as well as the usual conundrums of whether lip balm need to go into the little plastic bag, and whether your backpack is too heavy or will squeeze in an overhead locker. 

Lots of the strollers we’ve featured boast being able to fit into overhead lockers, but it’s best to check your airline’s policy, because some are more accommodating than others! There are often strict measurements bags and pushchairs have to meet, as well as weight limits. Getting these wrong can be costly and could get your holiday off to an expensive start!

There are pros and cons to doing this anyway. Sure, you’ll be able to keep hold of your child and stuff more easily if you wheel them to their seat, but folding a buggy in the aisle whilst wrangling an over-excited or whining kid into a tight space is no mean feat. 

Some airlines only allow a single piece of hand luggage so you’ll have to keep your passport etc. somewhere else, and if your buggy isn’t super light, lifting it up and stuffing it into an overhead box may have you scanning the aisle for the drinks trolley earlier than planned. 

However, if you hit the gym regularly and can negotiate the overhead storage easily, you’ll be wheeling your kid past the baggage claims queues smugly when you land. The choice is yours, but it’s worth remembering that you can always stow a buggy in the hold, although sometimes this costs extra.

How to choose the best stroller for air travel

Size: The first thing to consider is whether you want to carry your stroller as hand luggage. If you plan on stowing it in an overhead locker, then prioritising size and weight is a must. Some buggies are designed to fold up incredibly small, which is not only great if you are (or were!) a frequent flier, but handy for public transport too. 

Weight vs comfort: Like sports cars, some pushchairs are as light as possible at the cost of creature comforts and one that’s super stripped-back may not suit everyone. So, consider how much padding your little one likes (especially if they’re a light sleeper) as well as buggy features such as whether there are reclining positions. If your child likes a little nap on the go, you will not want a buggy that doesn’t recline and giving this feature up for the sake of a few grams or cm may make your holiday tricky when you arrive at your destination.

Age: It sounds obvious, but it’s important to consider whether lightweight buggies are suitable for the age of your baby. Some with less padding are only designed for babies aged six months or over, for example.

The weather: If you’re jetting off somewhere hot you’re going to need a buggy with a decent sun cover, or if you’re heading somewhere wetter, it’s worth remembering that not all buggies come with a rain cover, and these can be a pricey extra. 

Parental extras: Lightweight buggies seldom come with extras like cup holders, but you might want to check the size and sturdiness of a buggy’s shopping basket if you plan on loading up on souvenirs.  

Cost: Holidays and flights aren’t cheap, so budget is key to most parents. Of course, you don’t want to over-spend, but if you’re planning on making up for lost time and going on a few trips in the near future, it’s probably worth spending a little. If you’re planning on using the stroller for trips at home too, you’ll want to check all the little extras like covers/hoods, the size of a shopping basket and reclining options. If these are wrong, they will drive you mad at home and abroad!

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Sarah Griffiths

A journalist with 10 years experience, Sarah specialises in Science and Technology, writing for the BBC, national papers and consumer magazines, including T3, of course. Sarah has reviewed a range of products for T3, from children’s electric toothbrushes to water bottles and photo printing services. There's nothing she can't become an expert in!