August 14, 2004

That's Odd: United decides Bugaboo not a stroller, and other travel lessons

What's the Daddy Types secret for getting your kid to sleep the entire flight, even a 12-hour stretch from Osaka to O'hare? Get her to puke right after takeoff. (Of course, self-induced vomiting will come in handy when she starts modeling, too.)

Anyway, on our trip back, it was the airline, not the kid, who was causing all the fuss. Never mind that we confirmed half a dozen times beforehand that it was alright for the kid to sit with mommy in business class, (where it turns out there was plenty of guaranteed room for her car seat).

The surliest check-in crew I've ever encountered--United at Kansai Int'l Airport--were having none of it. Osakans may pride themselves on being brusque and rude, but when push comes to shove, no one's gonna walk over a family of New Yorkers. Net net: the kid got her seat.

And we got no stroller. In another example of "Our skies are friendly, as long as you don't have a kid with you," Our gate-checked Bugaboo base didn't show up in Chicago.

I sat on the floor, outlining the pitch for Kill Bill Vol. 3 in my head ("A sadistic Japanese airport gang takes revenge on an uppity new dad by 'losing' his so-expensive-would-we-really-get-it-twice? stroller"), while the gate agent assured me she "had the plane swept. Standard operating procedure." Uh-huh.

They swept, we schlepped. When we got off our connecting flight, we found out the rig had come off our Osaka plane into the odd-sized baggage claim in Chicago almost two hours after the flight landed. United forwarded it, and it'll supposedly be delivered this morning. The moral: if you're going to gate-check an unusual looking stroller, cover it with giant "This is a stroller. REALLY." stickers or something.

Related: DT reader John has his own car seat story from the kid-unfriendly skies. Two's a trend, folks.


You skip out on the case? That might have at least consolidated things for you.... not that it matters now that you've returned.

Yeah, with the carseat adapter, we rolled with the stroller up until the last minute and gatechecked the base. I don't think we'll use the case until we outgrow the carseat (i.e., in another month or two, at this rate)

Yeah - we pulled it all along when we flew at about 8 weeks in January. It was rough, but worked since we used the seat on the plane. Once we arrived though we went stroller only, perhaps a bit early, but it all worked out. She's way too big for the car seat that fits the stroller now...

So much for 1 year out of that sucker. The next one is enormous!

Buy a case. It is $100 bucks or used on ebay but well worth it. I have never had a problem flying with the Bugaboo secured in the case!

random question, did you have to deflate the tires of the bugaboo before gate check? or is it just fine to check inflated tired underneath the plane?

I've never deflated them, nor heard of anyone deflating them.

has anyone travelled w/ the transport bag. Most website suggests pushing the stroller to the gate and disassembling it there to place in the bag. the bag is good size, is there any problem getting the bag (although folded) through security? and getting the stroller checked at the gate?

That doesn't sound right to me at all, frankly. We never used our bag and finally ended up selling it on eBay. Instead, we used the stroller right up to the gate, and took it apart and gatechecked it, with never a single problem in five+ years. If we're traveling with a car seat, we'd just check the base. If we have the seat/canopy, I get one of those thick plastic bags from the airport check-in counter and wrap it at the door of the plane. Those strollers get put on by hand and don't get tossed around like checked luggage--or strollers.

And that's the only time I could see using a transport bag--when you're checking the stroller as luggage. Apparently, a huge percentage of Bugaboo's repairs are from strollers which traveled as checked baggage--with no bag.

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