A la carte pricing of services that airlines once included in their fares now makes looking for alternative ways to spend your travel dollars worth the time and effort. One such service is paying for checked bags.
In a Huffington Post blog entry, travel journalist George Hobica provides a handy “shipping vs schlepping” comparison chart and suggests:
Airline baggage fees keep on going up, and while fewer bags are being lost (mainly because more people carry on these days), bags still get damaged, lost, stolen and delayed.
If you’re planning a trip with bulky baggage or simply more luggage than usual, you might want to consider shipping your things to your destination rather than checking in with them when you fly.
Let us help weigh (heh) your options with this look at the pros and cons of shipping luggage.
Luggage shipping services vary. But most focus on the basic offer of picking up your bags and dropping them off, keeping in line with your itinerary.
There’s BagsVIP, which operates out of more than 250 airports and delivers directly to you home, hotel or wherever you request within 100 miles of your destination airport. Door-to-door luggage shipping operators include Luggage Forward and Luggage Free. And of course, the major players in the logistics industry such as FedEx and UPS operate similar services as well.
On the thumbs up side for shipping your luggage, tracking done by shipping providers is far better and more accessible than that by airlines. Shippers tend to have better insurance policies too with more inclusive lists of valuables. So if something goes wrong or your things don’t get to you at the right time, the response will be faster and with a bigger payout. Shipping your bags ahead of your trip also allows you to travel light while skipping the check-in line at the airport and avoiding the baggage claim carousel all together.
If you’re traveling with golf clubs, skis, surfboards or other large athletic gear, shipping ahead could prove an affordable way to minimize hassle. Same could be said if you happened to go a little overboard on your shopping spree while on vacation. If you’re traveling from a warm weather place to a colder clime (or visa versa) it might make sense to send your heavy winter coat and clothes ahead of your flight.
With respect to cost savings, the benefits might not be so clear and largely depend on what and how you want to ship. Shipping costs for a standard piece of luggage start at $25 for most shippers, which is about the same price as most airlines charge for checking an extra bag. Do the math for your individual situation to see if a shipping service is right for you.
As for the thumbs down side of the equation, there may seem to be fewer cons but they are significant and might keep most travelers sticking with conventional check ins for their bags.
Shipping instead of checking in can add another layer to your itinerary. You may need to arrange pickup or drop off at a place you’re not familiar with or change your schedule to accommodate the shippers. In most cases, checking your bags in for your flight will be cheaper or comparably priced to using a shipping service.
If you’re shipping to a hotel, or any commercial address for that matter, it would be wise to inquire if someone will be around to accept delivery of your shipment and if this is even the sort of thing allowed. Obviously, if you’re having anything shipped to the home of a friend or family member, it would be a good idea to give them a heads up at the very least.
Have you ever had your luggage shipped? How did it turn out? We’re interested in your real life travel tales and tips. Share in the comments section below. Thanks!