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We like to go on weekend trips with our toddler on low-cost airlines. We often hike at the destination, and generally prefer child carriers and baby backpacks (like those listed here, i.e., a backpack that you wear that your child can sit in/on) to strollers, so we bring one of these as well as a car seat. Frontier Airlines has always allowed us to gate-check both without charge. They often do give us a somewhat confused look when we explain that the carrier is functionally equivalent to a stroller, and we keep our child in it at check-in to demonstrate that point as easily as possible.

So I know that this works - we've done this on 4-5 trips. But we're flying on Spirit Airlines for the first time in the near future, and I remain a bit concerned that they might not accept our argument that it's equivalent to a stroller (and thus should be eligible for gate-check with no charge). Has anybody ever tried to gate-check a child carrier / baby backpack (on an airline that allows stroller gate-checks without charge) and not been allowed to do so?

  • If somebody has ever been disallowed, then that answers my question directly (in the affirmative). Details of this would be interesting. If somebody frequently gate-checks child carriers on Spirit (or other airlines) without issue (or perhaps even has found mention of them in some airline's policy), that would also somewhat answer my question (in the negative). For selfish reasons, I'm particularly interested in Spirit. But for the sake of this question being of general use, I think we should think of all airlines. – Shane Nov 11 '16 at 21:47
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    The rules of this site make that asking for one airline is better than asking for all airlines. So do not hesitate to narrow the question to your expected airline rather than trying to keep it broad. I think this question is NOT to broad at the moment. (+1) – Willeke Nov 11 '16 at 23:55
  • Let me then constrain the question to those airlines whose policies allow you to gate-check a stroller and a car seat for no extra charge. – Shane Nov 12 '16 at 1:52
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enter image description here

This is also "functionally equivalent to a stroller". So I am not sure about the solidity of your argument on why this should be allowed for free onboard.

  • This is not functionally equivalent to a stroller! It is functionally superior -- it carries a child AND significant amounts of luggage. In any case, I would bet the same airline staff member would allow a child backpack as pictured in the Q and reject this through some rule of reason or spirit of the law judgment. – Shane Nov 12 '16 at 13:16
  • Is that a real product or a joke? Let me count the ways this is a horrible idea... – chx Dec 7 '16 at 17:46
  • @chx I found the thing on Google Images. I also hope it's not a real product. I don't think it can even stand without support, the poor child would fall face first... – Federico Poloni Dec 7 '16 at 21:31
  • -1 - Not constructive. – sixtyfootersdude Dec 7 '16 at 22:03
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Some do, but not all. You seem to have found one that does (Frontier Airlines) even if the staff there might give you a somewhat confused look when we explain that the carrier is functionally equivalent to a stroller. Given there are over 5,000 airlines to choose from there is bound to be one at least that does not. For example I suspect People's Viennaline does not.

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    Would People's Viennaline allow you to gate-check a stroller at no charge? My question is not so much regarding whether you may gate-check a given item without charge (which obviously depends on airline policy), but rather whether airlines with policies regarding strollers would treat child carriers equivalently. – Shane Nov 12 '16 at 1:54
  • But I linked to an example. Is it not clear from the link? I'll add a little explanatory text. – Shane Nov 12 '16 at 3:07
  • I agree that there is certainly an airline staff member out there that would give me a hard time and perhaps not allow it. But there's a modicum of risk every time I cross the street, and I still feel safe crossing the street. The question is whether I can be reasonably sure that it will be allowed, and that's why my question asks about peoples' experiences in traveling with child carriers; I'm trying to gauge whether I should be concerned. Answers like: "I do this all the time without issue," or, alternatively, "I was not allowed to do this in a particular circumstance," speak to that. – Shane Nov 12 '16 at 3:17
  • I do not agree that this is polling and I am familiar with this point from other SE's. A single answer from a person who has been refused does, by itself, answer this question. Similarly, if somebody has done this with frequency without issue, that also, by itself, answers this question. Could we end up with both answers, each being equally valid? Theoretically, sure. If this did occur, we could always combine the two into a community answer that would incorporate the two and be canonical, but I don't presuppose this outcome. – Shane Nov 12 '16 at 3:46

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