By Harriet Baskas, msnbc.com contributor
Parents who consider strollers essential tools for moving kids, diaper bags, car seats and assorted kid-related stuff through the long corridors and slow-moving security lines at the airport should brace themselves: Beginning June 1, 2011, American Airlines will no longer gate-check certain strollers.
In order to get to the gate with stroller in hand, travelers flying American will need to bring a collapsible or umbrella-style stroller under 20 pounds. Under the new policy, large, jogging and non-collapsible strollers will also be checked at the ticket counter.
The good news is that checked strollers will travel fee-free.
The bad news is that families who don’t want to haul everything (kid included) on their backs will have to travel with a lighter, secondary stroller.
“It is simply a matter of many strollers these days being very large and not being collapsible and easily handled at the gate and on the jet bridge,” said American Airlines’ spokesperson Tim Smith.
United also requires passengers to check big strollers at the ticket counter, but Alaska, Delta, Southwest and several other airlines allow strollers of any kind to be checked at the gate. “We know that traveling with little ones can be a challenge,” said Southwest spokesperson Laurel Moffat. “We want to make that travel experience as easy as possible.”