September 24 2007 by Ellen Roseman
My kids are older now, but I remember wheeling them in their strollers onto an airplane before putting them in their seats. Now Air Canada has changed its policy, requiring strollers of a certain size to be checked as baggage.
Here’s a letter from Bruno, who discovered this policy at the airport. He found nothing posted at the Air Canada website when he bought his ticket.
My girlfriend bought a one-way ticket from Toronto to Vancouver on Air Canada for herself and our seven-month-old son. I was not travelling with them that day. When checking in at the airport, we were told that all strollers 30 inches long couldn’t go onto the plane. This policy is not printed on the e-ticket or receipt.
It got worse when we were told by Air Canada that if my girlfriend wanted help getting to the gate carrying an infant plus two carry-ons (her purse and a bag for the baby stuff), she would have to go to the Greater Toronto Airport Authority desk and request a wheelchair. My girlfriend started to cry and a sympathetic Air Canada employee offered her and the baby a free ride on a wheelchair. We weren’t given any reasons for this policy and witnessed other parents having the same problem at the check-in area.
I sent this letter to Peter Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for Air Canada, who gave the rationale for checking large strollers at the airport instead of carrying them onto the plane.
Starting Sept. 4, we began implementing a new policy for carry-on and checked luggage as part of an overall campaign to streamline our processes and ensure better delivery of baggage. The main thrust of the changes is to more rigidly enforce our pre-existing, two-piece carry-on rule with the goal of ensuring the limited luggage space within the cabin is shared equally by all passengers and that boarding is done as efficiently as possible.
As you may know from travelling, one of the issues people often encounter upon boarding an aircraft is that the overhead bins fill quickly leaving no room for people arriving later to store their items. We are aiming to improve the situation by ensuring people only have limited carry-on, so there is enough space for all.
As part of these changes, we now count fully collapsible, umbrella-style strollers as one piece of the two-item carry-on allotment, where before they were waived. The same now applies to car seats. You will find this on our website, aircanada.com, under “Information and Services,” although I should note that we recently launched a new website format so we are updating this to provide more information.
Larger strollers will be deemed checked luggage to be checked at the check-in counter and will count as one piece of the two-piece checked-luggage allotment. Apart from space considerations on the aircraft, this is also a health and safety issue for our staff and a measure to accelerate aircraft loading. In the past, people have been able to drop off all types of strollers just before entering the plane and one of our ground handlers would take it and place it in the luggage hold. However, strollers are getting increasingly bulky and heavy. It is dangerous and time-consuming for our people who have to carry them down the narrow steps to the tarmac and then find room for them in the luggage hold.
Despite the new requirements, Air Canada continues to meet the needs of customers by offering a generous two-piece carry-on baggage allotment while remaining competitive with current industry practices. For example, a mother travelling with two children may still carry on up to six items, including a car seat or fully collapsible stroller. We believe that is more than adequate for a person’s travel needs.
Bruno thinks a small collapsible stroller isn’t safe for a small infant and I’m sure some parents agree. The whole exercise of travelling with little ones is already fraught with frustration because of flight delays and turbulence. This will only complicate things further.
While Air Canada isn’t great at communicating with passengers, I went to the website as Peter instructed and found very detailed information here. Parents, what do you think?