If Bags Could Talk: “No Fat-Shaming, Please”

Oh, the lessons we could learn from luggage, if only our bags could talk. Let’s start with fat-shaming.

Baggage fat-shaming

Just a couple of years ago, several mortified travelers were in the news after being called out by their airlines for being ‘too fat to fly’ including filmmaker Kevin Smith (in most cases, they were told to purchase two seats). Today’s targets of fat-shaming are more likely to be bags.

Checked-bags: All airlines have precise weight guidelines for checked-bags; you are typically allowed up to 50 pounds per bag, though some discount carriers cut you off at 40 pounds. Keep within range because overweight penalties can cost $100 or more.

Carry-on bags: The baggage police are out in force at airport gates these days and if they say a carry-on is too heavy or too large, they will take it away from you – or worse, force you to go back through security to check the carry-on and pay the baggage fee. Since this negates most of the advantages of using a carry-on, keep hand luggage under 25 pounds (wearing your coat and heaviest shoes will help).

See how Rick got in trouble with the Baggage Police

Size matters

Most airlines charge for checked-bags. All charge for checking 3 or more, and a few charge for carry-ons. We know extra weight costs extra but the dimensions of a bag can mean more fees, too.

Checked-bags: Most U.S. airlines limit checked-bags to 62 inches total (add height + length + width). Any bag outside that will cost more.

Carry-ons: Most airlines limit carry-on dimensions to 45 inches but this varies by carrier. All airlines allow you a small carry-on for free, if it will fit under the seat in front of you (I’ve found that squashy, gym bag-type bags and some backpacks work well for this).

Watch out for surcharges

This year, Spirit Airlines is charging an additional $2 per checked-bag for Christmas and New Year’s flights. Other airlines, like Europe’s Ryanair, have a somewhat complicated pricing schedule that charges more during multiple peak travel periods throughout the year.

If Bags Could Talk

If your bags could talk, they’d tell you to pack light because it’s a great way to save money. I couldn’t agree more.


Published: December 12, 2014