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Flying with 5 month old

Explorer C

l'm flying with my will-be 5-month old solo next month and want to make sure this is the most seamless trip possible while also taking up the least amount of space on the plane. I have a lot of anxiety traveling in general, so I'm pretty nervous about this trip. I've added her as a lap passenger to my reservation and am aware I'll need to bring her birth certificate and also request a Boarding Verification Document when I arrive at the airport. My questions are mostly around our baggage. It's a short, weekend trip so we aren't bringing a lot.


We are getting TSA Pre-check to avoid dealing with security, and my goal is to avoid baggage claim all together. I'm planning to put her in her car seat, which attaches to her stroller, and bring that to the gate. I'll have one carry on suitcase with both her clothes and mine. She has a large diaper bag that is for weekend trips that I think will fit underneath the seat. In that bag, I'll plan to add my breast pump (considered a medical device) and just general items for her on the plane (diapers/wipes etc). I'll also have a small travel cooler for breastmilk that will be inside the diaper bag. With these items in the diaper bag, these should not count towards my carry-on luggage, correct? 


My biggest questions/concern is gate-checking her stroller and car seat. Do I just tell the gate agent I need to gate check the stroller to get tags? Will they put them in the travel bags for me or do I need to do that myself while my baby and luggage are strapped to me? I have a connecting flight and planned to just wear her as we walk that way. I'm assuming the checked stroller and car seat will be treated like any other checked baggage and just automatically get put on our next plane for me to pick up at my final destination. To clarify, I should not anticipate the stroller waiting for me as I get off my first plane, right? 


My last question is how will the stroller be stowed below? My biggest fear is that it gets damaged being tossed in there with the other suitcases. If there is damage to the car seat, I won't be able to leave the airport. I am planning to bring my own padded car seat bag. I've heard that there are designated areas under the plane for items like this to prevent damage but not sure how true this is. 


Re: Flying with 5 month old

Aviator A

You seem to have done your research and have a good plan for the travel.  Everything you said about baggage seems to fall in line with what is allowed.  I would not count on staff to place anything inside a stroller bag for you, if that's what you want to happen you will need to assume that you will be doing it.  Yes, talk to the gate agent when you arrive at the gate and request to gate check the stroller.  You can also clarify where you will reclaim the items, whether that is at the gate or at baggage claim.  This can vary depending on what your needs are.  I can't speak to any specific storage location for car seats, but can say that Southwest handles MANY car seats everyday and I have not heard any reports of damage.  If you do notice something speak with a Southwest baggage representative right away.