Stow the stroller in a duffle when you fly
This, from old friend and friend-of-a-friend Julie, whose outings with her daughters are often punctuated by celebrity sightings (she's Splendora's LA Celeb Spotter):
Most parents have a favorite anecdote about the challenges of traveling with small kids. Recently I noticed that several of the stories involved an airport and a trusty stroller being inflicted with irreperable damage. Often the airlines will offer to repair or replace a stroller, but that is little consolation when you are beginning your trip or even just getting home. This is when I remembered a conversation that I had with my father a few years ago.
Dad: Honey we would like to buy you a Maclaren Stroller. We hear they are the best.
Me: That's great dad. Thank you.
Dad: Would you like me to order the duffle bag that comes with it?
Me: Duffle bag?
Dad: To protect it when you travel.
Only then did I realize what a a great help it would be. We stroll our child through the airport with the duffle stowed safely below. At the gate we collaspe the stroller, store it in the bag, and hand it to the flight crew. At the end of our flight we have a stroller that is all in one piece and clean. So duffle away and save yourself the hassle of dealing with a broken handle or ripped sunshade.
Cheapo alternative: ask the folks at flight check-in for a big plastic bag -- they've almost always got 'em for checked luggage that requires a little containment (such as car seats). Those should do the trick for small-ish strollers checked at the gate as well.