In an age of baggage fees, it seems like the ability to check baggage for free when you're an elite member would be a great perk.This might be true, except I honestly don’t remember the last time I had to check a single piece of luggage. From my perspective, checked luggage is a hassle, expensive if you fly any airline that you don’t have special perks with, and wastes quite a bit of time.
If you’ve flown any time in the last 10 or more year, you’ll notice a lot more people carrying luggage on the plane, and there are a few reasons for this. Since the addition of baggage fees to almost all airlines, many people have turned to carrying their luggage on the plane. There are some downsides to this trend as many times I have seen people with far too much baggage, try to carry on and take up multiple overhead bins that could have been used by other passengers.
For the average traveler though, there are many advantages to carrying everything on the plane and ways to make it work. Often when travelling with inexperienced work travellers, I will get asked how I pack an entire week worth of clothes in one carry on, really it’s not that difficult.
Minimize the amount of clothes you’re taking, plan out what you’re going to wear in advance so that when you get there it’s all ready to go. Don’t bring 12 outfits with you so that you can figure it out once you are there, it’s easier to do this before leaving and minimizing what you pack. This becomes even more important when if you were to fly on the small island hoppers you may find around the Maldives or other short hop trips. These airlines are very restrictive on weight because of how much weight is a factor in the performance of light aircraft. In these cases you will get charged per KG of luggage you bring. This adds up really fast if you’ve brought the kitchen sink with you. A little planning ahead makes a world of difference.
Carrying on also allows me to quickly traverse baggage claim, as I don’t need to stop for it. This also means I’m through customs faster than most other people. If you’ve ever seen the movie “Up In The Air,” George Clooney’s character famously points out that you lose over 30min on every trip to dealing with checked luggage, that adds up really fast if you travel a lot. More than that, it just simplifies everything when you land. Faster through the airport gets you first in line with rental cars, gets you out the door faster and generally to you hotel and destination faster. Also, the airline can’t lose luggage that they don’t have.
People who have adapted to fly with me in this fashion have stuck to this way of flying, it’s just that much less of a headache. So next time you travel, leave the super large suitcase at home, slim down your clothes choices and carry it all with you.