Tips for flying with toddlers

Each Friday on msnbc.com’s Overhead Bin I track down an answer to a reader’s travel question.

This week it was:

How do you fly with two toddlers?”

That’s what Jessica White wanted to know.

“When I called Frontier Airlines,” said White, “they couldn’t answer my questions about bringing aboard car seats and checking our large double stroller at the gate.”

I didn’t find anything to address gate-checking strollers under the Traveling with children section of the Frontier Airlines website, so I called the airline directly.

A cheery agent offered to make a note in a reservation record and assured me that White would be able to gate-check her stroller for free. “She could also check the stroller at the counter but I suggest the mom take it to the gate so she doesn’t have to worry about chasing toddlers through the airport,” she said.

The agent also took some time to run through the options for taking and using car seats on board the airplane. “Usually putting a car seat in the middle or aisle seat is not permitted,” she said. “But in this case, if both children have tickets for their own seats, the mom could put the seats side-by-side, in the window and middle seat, and take the aisle seat herself.”

Each airline has its own rules for gate-checking strollers, so it’s a good idea to call ahead or look on an airline’s website before traveling. And don’t assume that the rules you encountered last holiday season are still in force. This past June, for example, American Airlines announced it was changing its rules and only gate-checking collapsible or umbrella-style strollers under 20 pounds.

White also had a question about taking along drinks and snacks for her children.

“One child has severe food allergies and I want to bring aboard soy milk in sippy cups and snacks from home that are milk, peanut, tree nut & egg free. Will security let me through with these items?”

The TSA does not restrict non-liquid snacks taken through the checkpoint. Guidelines about baby formula, breast milk, juice and other liquids are posted in the Traveling with Kids page of the TSA’s website.

“Parents traveling with children may pass through a security checkpoint with a reasonable amount of milk or baby formula in containers larger than 3.4 ounces after it is screened,” said TSA spokesperson Greg Soule. “We encourage parents carrying larger amounts of liquids for their children to declare the items to one of our officers in front of the checkpoint, so it can be screened properly.”

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