December 12, 2007

Quirky 'Air Canada' Has Own Umbrella Stroller-Only Gatecheck Policy, Laws

aircanada_strollers.jpg

Wow, if you're flying on Air Canada anytime soon, heads up. It's apparently not enough to have two separate official languages; in order to make clear that they're an airline from an entirely other country, Air Canada has its own wackycrazyhippie stroller policy:

You can only gatecheck vertically folding umbrella strollers. Any horizontally folding, "'sports utility-type'" strollers must be checked in with your luggage. Also, if they fold to less than 92 cm/36 in. and 25cm/10 in., you can carry them on the plane as part of the kid's carry-on allowance. Also, if you check a stroller, it counts as part of the kid's baggage allowance. I know, right? Cra-zy.

Personally, I blame the thousands of Chariot Cougar drivers in Vancouver, wheeling up to the plane in their giant podmobiles. That, or Dorel's main Ottawanian lobbyist also designed the Quinny Zapp. Next thing you know, they'll be telling me it's not a sofa, and it's not pronounced 'zee'.

On the off chance you Canadian Bugaboogers can't gatecheck the base and take just the carseat on board, I happen to know where you can get a great deal on a Bugaboo Travel Bag...

Stroller Policy [aircanada.ca via dt reader melanie]

16 Comments

Are their headquarters based in Canada City?

That's a pretty obscure headline reference there. Which is probably why it's so good.

[personally, I can't figure out why it's not called Air Canadia. -ed.]

seriously, stop buying into the stereotype of being an arrogant,ignorant, pompous asshat of a yank.

child.

[I'm not buying into it, just trying it on for size. besides, I'm pretty sure--maybe it's on wikipedia--the reason Tim Berners-Lee created the web in the first place was to laugh at the country who's supplied us with so many of our best comedians. And soft wood lumber. -ed.]

What a bunch of hosers, eh? Take off!

[I blame Barbara Budd for all my bad jokes -ed.]

The good news is that the smaller carriers have no such policy. Bad news is "Smaller Canadian Carriers" mean a prop plane from 1953.
But hey, I rolled my massive SUV of a stroller right up to the plane, checked it and had it waiting on the runway to restrain my kids for the short walk to the terminal on the other end of my trip. Apparently Air Canada will let you stick a Zapp in the overhead compartment though.

[thus the Zapp mention above... also, no pickup for connecting flights, only at your final destination. -ed.]

Not sure what BZ is so worked up about... I'll get behind any blog post denigrating our national airline -- it's one of the worst airlines I've ever flown, consistently; the old Canadian Airlines that it absorbed was way better (and thus less profitable, apparently).

Even domestically, WestJet is a much better choice... and we had a great flight on the up-and-coming charter outfit Sunwing's Vancouver-Toronto redeye, including a spectacular feat of getting our party of 6 into an unbroken row of seating even though we were later than the last call for boarding.

Ok, so I totally skimmed the Zapp mention. What can I say? Having an 8 day old in the house seriously screws with reading comprehension.
Agreed that Westjet is the way to go. Friendlier and $50 cheaper one-way.

I live in the Great White North and recently took a 4 1/2 and a 2 year old to Florida.... with a Bugaboo with a board on the back, which was the perfect stroller for 4 days of walking around in the sun. imagine our surprise to have to check it. We found ourselves at 6:30 in the morning in an airport with no stroller for two sleepy kiddos. And when we got to Orlando, we couldn't get our stroller back til we got our luggage.... Same problem on the way back. the gate in orlando was filled with families with tired/over-excited kiddos with no strollers. next time, we'll fly with a different airline, even if it means a non-direct flight. AC just lost a well-traveled family because of this policy.

[I blame Barbara Budd for all my bad jokes -ed.]

Wow, you win a Jambuster for funniest Canadiana reference! Radio that's up in the air.

Anyway, Air Canada sucks. More and more they are proving (and moving) to be anti-consumer. I mean they've completely banned any humane way of transporting pets (Seriously. See their policy)

Now this? We travelled about 2 years ago via AC with one of those "SUV" strollers without any problem, checked at the gate. What's changed? Clearly it was impacting their bottom line.

Mind you that time, they lost our bags going in both directions, including the car seat. Well, on the return flight the car seat was the only thing that arrived with us, but still. And someone stole the digital camera from our bag. And didn't seat us together on the flight out. And gave us the "jump seats" at the back of the plane on the return flight. For a 9 hour flight Halifax to Vancouver. I'm still bitter.

The remedy? Don't fly with Air Canada. In Canada, fly Westjet. Better service, better seats, better fares, and TVs for everyone!

A>

I love the Barbara Budd reference. I used to work for that there show...and all her best jokes are written by genius producers like me :)

we flew air canada on 4 different flights going from california to paris in october. we had no problem gate checking the maclaren techno BUT we were scolded and stopped from walking our kid around in the ergo midflight to lull him to sleep. a bjorn family was also stopped. holding and walking the kid is fine. using any type of carrier is forbidden inflight on air canada (or so it was explained to us).

Love the Barbara Budd reference! But, how far are you from Reading?

I've flown WestJet a few times and haven't taken to their folksiness. That said, AC has gotten so hostile to customers and generally mean-spirited. And I hadn't initially noticed that they won't give access to gate-checked strollers during connections. I keep thinking back to a coast-to-coast trip I did alone with our son when he was 8 months old, just before this policy change. I wouldn't have managed without his stroller, especially when connecting at Pearson. Baby + carseat (too heavy in combination by that time) + diaper bag + my carry-on. I barely managed as it was, and only because I could load up the stroller.

If I'm following the math, it seems to me that a parent travelling solo with a lap infant will basically have no luggage if bringing a stroller and a car seat. They're both counted in the baggage allowance, so if there are only two pieces allowed, that's it.

Next summer we'll have to fly from Toronto to Vancouver with our son and our cat. I think it'll have to be WestJet. Folksy as they are, at least they treat customers (and their pets) humanely.

Oh, and even if they ban Ergos and Bjorns aboard, they actually recommend customers flying with babies to use a Snugli or sling at the airport! It is right in their policy statement!

Air Canada is so ridiculous that this year we chose to fly to Frankfurt and Athens via Chicago just so we could fly United, and that was with a 2.5 year old, 6 month old twins and the nanny. We gate checked a MacLaren Twin Techno and a Volo and got them both at every connection and we used Hotslings on the plane which were a godsend. Why on earth wouldn't they let a parent use a sling on board? Isn't it in everyone's best interest for me to have two free hands to catch my fall and keep my baby from flying through the air? I am a proud Canadian, right until we start comparing national airlines. I am an even prouder Calgarian, home of WestJet.

Wow Andrea, I feel your pain...actually no. Flying on vacation with the nanny -- sorry kids, can't interact with you, mummy has to go shopping. Nanny will tend to you.

[uh, what are you supposed to do with the nanny while you go on vacation, put her in a kennel? a nanny spa? Just leave her at home to run the meter and eat all your Pop Tarts? Forget that. -ed.]

I flew alone in October with a 2 yr old and a 10 month old to Paris. I had to use a Maclaren Volo and a Baby Bjorn, plus carry my carseat and my diaper bag. All because I couldn't gate check my Phil and Ted's double. Air Canada sucks. The irony is that my Volo doesn't even meet their dimension requirements - and I was thinking about getting a Maclaren double (and selling my P&T) because I travel a lot with the two kids alone. D'ya think they will accept a double umbrella stroller?? Air Canada SUUUUUUCCCKKKS.

I was just emailing with a bugaboo-owner friend who flies a lot with her daughter. I sighted your blog entry and ACs stroller policy. She said that AC allows her to check her stroller at the gate as long as it's in the transport bag. She hasn't flown international since the baby arrived, but has flown several times throughout North America.
I guess AC will bend their rules. I'm going to contact the airline later this summer since we'll be flying with our daughter and want to bring our bugaboo, not as checked luggage.

We Canadians don't have much airline choice when flying internationally out of the country.

[that's really weird; the transport bag is huge. we always gatecheck the bugaboo+car seat/adapters. The base flies naked, but we put the car seat in one of those giant plastic bags the airline provides. not on AC, though, so good luck --ed.]

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