February 7, 2010

Ship rather than check your bags?

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Image courtesy of geishaboy500 on Flickr

With the recent increase in checked bag fees from most airlines, travelers are rightfully searching for alternatives to get their luggage to its destination. Increasingly, folks are considering mailing their luggage using traditional shipping companies like Fed Ex and UPS. Depending on the weight of the bags (the heavier the bag the more the airlines charge) it may be cheaper to ship your bag separately, especially if you are going to just one destination. For an additional fee, the shipping company can pick your luggage up at your house and insure your belongings. This saves travelers the hassle of shoving luggage into already overcrowded overhead storage bins (on planes that charge for checked bags, more and more people are trying to bring carryon luggage that doesn’t need to be checked). Shipping also saves you the time of having to wait for your luggage on the baggage carousel.

Of course, shipping your suitcase could become more complicated than it’s worth with regards to receiving your luggage or arranging for the signing of the package. Right now, it seems the best solution might just be to jet with airlines like us that don’t charge for the first checked bag. “Thank goodness,” says Newsweek, “at least a couple of airlines aren’t nickel-and-diming us to death.”

Some are getting even more creative and trying to cut corners when they can. One traveler, as documented by the NY Times, waited until he was almost late and checked his bag at the gate for free. Surely this is not a reliable alternative, though, as most bags will not make it through the security line if it’s too large to take on board. Others are shoving items in their pockets to make their bags small enough to qualify for carryon luggage and others yet are strategically reserving seats that allow them early boarding (on airlines that board by section) and hence giving them a first stab at an overhead compartment. Surely, there is much more to come on this, both on the policy side from airlines, as well innovative adaptations on part of the traveler.

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