Is it risky to check luggage in?
The chances of an airline losing your checked-in luggage have increased for 2018.
Here is a 55-page document put out by the Government called the Air Travel Consumer Report. Scan to page 32 to see the statistics on consumer lost luggage by 13 domestic U.S. carriers comparing March 2017 to March 2018. It looks like lost, delayed, or damaged luggage was up a bit from the previous year.
Do you want your luggage to become a statistic?
Certainly not! I would think. No one wants to arrive somewhere without clothes, toiletries and other things needed on a daily basis. I’ve actually had that happen a few times in my life, most recently when I went to London in December 2017 for a 4-day trip. My luggage (a 22” spinner) didn’t get to me until the 3rd day when I was getting ready to leave. I had to go to the nearest Gap Store to buy some Pajamas, a sweater and a pair of jeans. They didn’t have everything I needed and since I didn’t know when/if my luggage was going to get to me, I stopped in at a TK Maxx (The UK version of TJ Maxx) to buy a few more inexpensive apparel items. The hotel was nice enough to give me a toothbrush kit and I used hotel shampoo & body wash. The reason I checked a 22” spinner is because the gate agents said the flight was fully booked which meant the overhead cabins were filling up fast with personal items and no more room was available for carry-ons.
That is always the risk we take when flying. You could carefully bring your appropriate sized carry-on and bypass the front desk check-in but when you get to the gate if more passengers have shown up for the flight, they could all be asked to voluntarily check their carry-on. As what happened with me.
What Defines a Personal Item?
So the second thing I recommend is to bring a personal item, such as a purse, backpack, or large tote, or something that fits under the seat appropriately-sized that contains your toothbrush, toothpaste, a change of underwear, some PJ’s that roll-up small, or an extra t-shirt, a pair of socks, and if it will fit a pair of pants preferably not bulky like jeans, but just in case. This way if your carry-on does get checked and lost along the way you will have this immediate back-up of clothing and small item toiletries.
I personally use the Travelon underseat tote because it has an outside pocket I can put a water bottle in, it’s easy to maneuver even with 1 hand sometimes, and it has the right amount of space for the basic necessities I need for at least 1 night. It fits perfectly under a coach economy seat too.
The problem sometimes, is that people get carried away with the amount of “personal item” carry-ons. I’ve seen people hauling 3 large size shopping bags (those rectangular ones) like as if they just went shopping in duty free and bought a bunch of stuff. This is in addition to the backpack and carry-on. Invariably the gate agents ask people to condense their items into their backpack/tote/carry-on so as to save space equally for all passengers. You don’t want to be one of those persons that gets dirty-looks from others standing in line waiting for you to condense your things together. It’s a hassle, it’s embarrassing, it’s a time-waster. So please think ahead the next time you stop to buy things last minute how much it will affect you in your effort to get to your airplane seat.
Condense and Condense Again
Also, keep in mind that even if you don’t make last-minute extra purchases, to still condense what you can into as little as 2 carry-ons as previously mentioned. Eliminate the unnecessary things like shopping bags even if they are pretty and unique and you want to bring it home to give as a gift to someone. Fold it up neatly and stash it in the flat outside pocket of your carry-on if possible. If you have a hard side carry-on, then you’ll have to open it up right there in the terminal. Not fun at all.
Ebags has this great set of a Professional looking slim back pack that goes with their wheeled 21” Mother Lode Carry-On. I got my husband this set in gray and it looks really nice, and has been durable through dozens of trips.
I remember once I was trying to get on a flight from (HNL) Honolulu to (OGG) Maui. The flights were delayed, oversold, and very crowded making it difficult for my stand-by status. This caused the gate agents to over scrutinize the size of luggage that people were trying to bring on the flights. My soft-sided luggage had an outside pocket that apparently looked like it was sticking out too much to the gate agent. I had only a pair of flip-flops smashed flat in that pocket. The gate agent wasn’t buying it, so she put my bag in the bag sizer and it was about ¼’ inch too much. She said if I wanted to get on the flight I’d have to remove the flip-flops. (Or throw them away) I would have had to open the already fully packed suitcase and smash everything down to add the flip flops. Fortunately my husband had the right amount of room in his backpack for my flip flops.
I came over with THIS MUCH and I’m leaving with THE SAME AMOUNT why didn’t my stuff fit correctly?
This is another issue when packing. Why did my things fit differently on the return?
A number of reasons for this; you were in a hurry so you just sort of mindlessly crammed everything back into your suitcase at the hotel and it fit and no worries or so you thought.
Your bulky pair of jeans weren’t rolled up properly or folded in such a way as to not minimize space. You put your extra pair of shoes in the suitcase in a different position than when you originally packed.
It makes sense at this point to create a specific routine for knowing what to pack and
HOW TO PACK these items every time you fly. Get into the right way to do it and save yourself a ton of time and/or hassle. And if you really hate packing, hand the chore over to someone who doesn’t mind it that you are flying with. But if you are flying solo, this is something you must learn to do correctly on your own.
Become the efficient suitcase packer by