American Airlines has been under fire for a video that surfaced in April 2017 of a flight attendant and a twin mom in an altercation. The argument begins before the video starts rolling, but from fellow passengers accounts, it all started when the twin mom tried to bring her double stroller on board and the flight attendant tried to stop her. However, the mother would not have been allowed to check her double stroller at the gate because American Airlines has a 20-pound weight limit on gate-checked strollers. This policy poses a problem for parents of two or more small children, as most double strollers on the market weigh at least 26 lbs. Could all of this have possibly been avoided if not for American’s unfair stroller policy at gate check? And does this rule unfairly single out parents of multiples?
This isn’t an isolated incident. One twin mom, Allison, reached out to us after she traveled with American Airlines. Allison wrote to us and said, “Family trips with multiples are stressful enough. You can imagine my anger and perplexity when I was told by American Airlines in the security line that I would have to remove my children from their stroller, go back to baggage check, and check my stroller at the counter because of their absurd 20-pound stroller limit. They didn’t seem to care that American Airlines had allowed us to gate check our stroller on our first flight, from Boston to Miami. In fact, we still had the gate-check tag on the stroller from 7 days prior. After a little push back, I obliged (more due to my fear of missing our flight) and my husband and I lugged our twin toddlers, five-year-old, and carry-ons through the airport.”
Can you imagine all that it takes to get to the airport, get checked in, get the entire family through security, find your gate, and then be told you have to do it all over again, and missing your flight in the process?
According to the American Airlines website (as of April 2017), their policy states, “Each ticketed customer is allowed 1 stroller. Only small, collapsible and light strollers (up to 20 lbs/9kgs) can be checked at the gate. Any stroller that weighs over 20 lbs/9 kgs, is too large, or is non−collapsible must be checked at the ticket counter.”
This policy does not take into account that the average double stroller weighs between 26 and 37 pounds. As any parent of twins knows, our double stroller is one of the most important pieces of equipment we have. When you are traveling with multiple small children — especially if you are traveling alone — it is extremely difficult to manage an airport without a stroller that can be gate-checked. And the fact of the matter is that there are very few double strollers on the market that meet the 20 lb. weight limit.
We checked with all of the major airlines in the United States about their stroller gate check policies. American Airlines is the only airline that imposes a weight restriction on gate-checked strollers. As a comparison, United Airlines’ policy states, “United accepts one stroller and one car seat free of charge for each child, including children under the age of two traveling on an adult’s lap and infants traveling internationally on 10 percent of an adult fare. If requested by the customer, United can check strollers at the departure gate.”
Delta’s policy is similar, “Children’s strollers and seat restraints are not counted as part of the standard baggage and therefore can easily be checked for free. For your convenience, these items may be checked at curbside, the ticket counter, or at the gate.”
JetBlue has the most family-friendly policy, “JetBlue will courtesy gate-check any of the following: strollers, car seats, child carriers/backpack carriers, booster seats, wheelchairs, walkers, canes, or crutches. If you chose to check any of these items (at the check-in counter or gate-check), it will not count as one of your checked bags and there is no fee assessed.”
Southwest’s policy also has no weight restriction on strollers, “Customers traveling with children will be allowed to check one stroller and one Child Restraint System (CRS) or car seat per child without charge. This is in addition to the regular free baggage allowance. The stroller and CRS or car seat allowance applies to any type of stroller (umbrella, full size, jogging stroller, etc.) and CRS or car seat. The Customer may check the stroller and CRS or car seat at the curb, ticket counter, or gate.”
If American Airlines didn’t have this unnecessary rule, the altercation with the twin mom may have been avoided. As a brand that prides itself on being family friendly, American Airlines is failing with families of multiples.
When we contacted American for a comment, they replied, “Thank you for contacting American. Small, collapsible and light strollers (up to 20 pounds) may be carried on board with the passenger, as long as they fit in an overhead bin or closet. However, most customers request that we check their strollers at the gate. Strollers are then retrieved plane side – usually on the jet bridge – once they disembark at their destination or connecting city. Sincerely, American Airlines Media Relations”
Our goal when reaching out to American Airlines was to help them change the rule to better serve their customers, especially the millions of families that fly with them each year. A follow-up email has been sent to clearly communicate that. At the time of publication, they have not responded.
If you feel that this policy is unfair to families of multiples, please consider sending American Airlines’ Customer Relations Dept. a note through their website to request a policy change.
– The Twiniversity MoM Squad
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