How to prepare your luggage for air travel?

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How to prepare your luggage for air travel?

Many travels feel anxious when it comes to putting their luggage together. It is hard to decide how much to take or what to take. But it is not that difficult. It all depends on the duration of the trip and its purpose. That is a good starting point!

For example, the longer the travel the more clothing and personal items we want to take. On the other hand, a business trip for a day or two we can make with very little carry-on. Taking into account destination weather and season is not to miss. But one checked-in bag, one carry-on, and one personal item is the standard minimum a passenger can take.

When to start packing?

Preparing your bags should not start on the day of travel. This is “Packing at the last minute,” and there is no reason to that except you leave in an emergency.

Thus, it is best to start a few days before departure. Think carefully what and how much you want to take. As travelers we often tend to take more than we need. In reality we have to go by many luggage restrictions.

How much to take?

Domestic or international travel along with booking class determines how much luggage a passenger can take. Airline luggage policies tell you all about that. The flight itinerary issued by a travel agency or an airline will also contain information on baggage allowance.

Take no chances as airlines make real money on luggage fees. Number of bags, wight, size, and booking class – all these factors may result in luggage fees.

Here is an example: an international flight in economy class with United Airlines allows you to check-in one bag not exceeding 50 lb (23 kg.) Had your bag is heavier then 50 lb you are subject to overweight fees.

Higher booking class, of course, will yield more luggage privileges. However, not that long ago airlines created a booking class called Basic Economy. It offers the cheapest possible fare that strips you from any bag allowances among other things. So checking even one bag at United Airlines in Basic Economy will cost you $70 on an international flight from U.S. to Europe. American Airlines charges, for example, charges $75 for your first bag with basic fare.

Compared to one of Europe’s biggest airlines, Lufthansa Airlines, traveling in economy class on a flight between U.S. and Germany allows for one suitcase not heavier then 23 kg. for free for each passenger.

On-board you can take a personal item as well as carry-on luggage not exceeding 18 lb (8 kg) also for free. It is a standard pretty much for any airline around the world.

Airlines are extremely strict in tracking luggage weight. Make no mistake. Exceeding the allowable weight for just a couple of hundred gram ( 0.45 lb) will trigger the overweight fees.

What to do at the check-in counter?

What to do at the check-in counter if an airline employee says your luggage is heavier than 50 lb? The employee will advise to make the bag lighter, or else you owe the luggage fee.

Don’t panic! Open your bag and transfer some items to another bags to make it less heavy. This is the best you can do. Often, removing one or two items reduces the weight enough to avoid the fees.

If the bag is much heavier then you either have to agree to pay the fees or discard some personal items to reduce wight. Both cases you want to avoid.

How to avoid paying luggage fees?

Be informed: Learn about baggage allowance and fees based on the booking fare on the airline website you fly with.

Get a scale: Once we know how much suitcases should weigh, we need to have a suitable scale to weight each one of them carefully.

There are many travel scales on the market. And some high end travel bags offer a built-in scale which I find unreliable. Mechanical scales are the same. Use electronic scales for accuracy.

Should the weight of any bag turns more than allowed per airline policy take the time to rearrange items in the luggage at home. That’s why start packing a few days before your trip. However, luggage preparation is not limited only to how heavy bags are but also to what they contain.

What can we take in our luggage?

Understandably, we cannot put anything we want in our bags. Sharp or flammable objects, explosives, firearms, drugs, and even household tools can be on the list of forbidden items.

To learn what we can and cannot take with us the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website lists all items that we must consider taking on not taking. Airlines also offer such information on their websites. Regardless of its value, however, if an item is not allowed it will have to trash at the airport.

What to have in your carry-on?

Carry-on is the luggage that stays with us during the entire trip, so put important and valuable items in the carry-on. Here is a short list of important things to have:

Documents: All travel related documents such as COVID-19 paperwork, including passports and other personal identity documents should be in your carry-on.

It is important to make photocopies of all documents. Place the photocopies in a bag different from the one in which you keep the originals. In case you misplace the originals the copies will serve as proof that you owned those originals. If you travel abroad the photocopies are must-have.

Documents such as ID cards or passports must be securely placed in your hand luggage.

Electronic devices: We can take small electronic devices with us on-board. Such devices are smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other portable electronics. Note that manufacturer recalled electronics may not be allowed as it is the case of  the 15-inch MacBook Pro due to its faulty battery.

Other items: Medications, a few extra pieces of clothes like socks, underwear, toothbrush, deodorant, and antibacterial wipes are among the items to have.

Traveling internationally often involves flight connections. In case of delays missing your next is not uncommon. Then, the airline may offer you to stay overnight at a hotel until your next flight. Having spare clothing helps you fell refresh on the next day.

Valuables: Do not place valuables in checked bags. All valuables must be in your hand luggage. Stealing valuables form checked bags is not unheard of.

Large amount of money/jewelry: In case you carry large amount of money or valuable jewelry get acquainted with the requirements for duty-free import of the countries you plan to visit.

Forbidden items: Do not take items that cannot be taken on board or risk being confiscated at checkpoints
from airport security. Be careful with the amount of liquids and sharp objects. Check airlines’ websites to find out what you can and can’t take on-board.

Oversize luggage

The transportation of oversize luggage such as a snowboards, ski, or other special equipment is charged separately. Depending on the size and weight of this type of luggage, the airline may accept it as cargo and not checked-in luggage. The cargo is priced differently then regular checked bags. Airlines may also require a prior reservation for cargo.

Preparing your luggage is not that difficult after all as long as you stay informed and plan ahead of time. Know how much your bags have to weight, understand what you can and cannot take with you on-board or put in your checked bags will make your trip a breeze. Happy traveling.

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Ian Powers is a travel blogger and nature enthusiast. Ian has over 20 years of aviation travel experience.

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