Please sign in to post.

Delta - carry-on vs. checked bags

Last month I flew on Delta PBI>ATL>FCO round trip using Skymiles cheapest redemption level which does not include checked bag or seat choice. On each leg of the flight there was an announcement at the boarding gate that because the aircraft was at capacity, anyone who was willing to check a bag could do so and it would be “absolutely free.” On international flights with a change of planes, I always try to check my bags because I don’t like fighting my way down the narrow aisles or dragging it from one gate to another.

The odds of your luggage being lost have been drastically reduced in the last few years. On 22 international flights I’ve only had 2 bags go astray. Because of equipment problems a quick re-routing from Delta to Air France made for a very tight (less than 40 minutes) connection in Paris. I arrived in Venice and my bag didn’t. I checked into my hotel, enjoyed a pizza and vino, took a short walk and returned to my hotel and my bag was in my room. Easier than dragging on a vapor et to! On a flight from Florence to Miami, there were major delays and my bag went missing. Basically filled with dirty laundry and nothing important, it was delivered to my home 5 days later. Both incidents happened over 18 years ago. No problems since and I don’t feel like a pack horse.

Posted by
1473 posts

good to know! we've always carried on on the way to europe and sometimes check on the way home. Considering checking on the way there this year as we only have a 90 minute layover at LHR - in and out of terminal 5, but might be easier without a bag.

Posted by
6698 posts

I'm a check-the-bag person myself as well. I typically fly Delta and have for over 30 years, many of which were international, and I only lost a bag once. And that was almost 20 years ago (and I got it back the next day). I just don't see the advantage to lugging a big bag all over the airport, although mine's not even that big. It's a 20" spinner that is very light weight, but it's still just one more thing to deal with.

I love the freedom of checking the bag and then just hanging out with my personal item until the flight takes off.

Posted by
357 posts

I agree and check bags IF I am going to be staying in the city where my flight lands. However if I am immediately traveling on to a different destination by train or car, I do carry on only so that my travel plans can continue uninterrupted.

Posted by
1946 posts

I flew Delta last time I traveled.

I checked one bag coming home and my bag was torn apart by Delta. Staff had to tape it up so I could make my connecting flight.

Once home, I put in a claim and got a really beautiful suitcase with no problem at all and it came fast. The new suitcase was worth much more than the one that had been eaten alive.

Posted by
3878 posts

I like Delta quite a bit. I flew Delta and its partners exclusively for about 10 years. As their prices have climbed, I‘ve started experimenting with other airlines. Lufthansa and Air Canada in December. Both good experiences, but Delta just seems like home. I don’t check bags often, but the only time one has not arrived when I arrived was when I had a 45-minute change of planes at CDG (Paris) and my incoming flight was 15 minutes late, cutting transfer time down to 30 minutes. I made it for the outgoing flight to Budapest, but my bag did not. It was delivered that night to my friends‘ apartment in Budapest.

Posted by
6590 posts

I'm not a Delta fan for other reasons, but I haven't had a problem with a checked bag since 1968 (which was a doozy, but not Delta). I usually check my carry-on-size bag so I won't have to deal with it during a layover, and I'm always annoyed by the wait at baggage claim. (I guess I'm insane since the defintion of insanity is ... you know.) I feel liberated when I occasionally carry on the bag for a nonstop flight, and so far I haven't had to gate-check. Deplaning and heading straight out of the airport is great.

Posted by
225 posts

We have always checked bags on international flights and have never had a problem with lost luggage or it not arriving when we did at our destination, even with transfers. Our trips generally included travel by rental car, so the issues of having to haul luggage on and off train’s etc was minimal.

We likely overpacked by Rick Steves standards, but that is our preference.

This next comment will show my bias. I resent carryon passengers abusing the rules. I wish airlines would strictly enforce their carryon standards so I do not have to deal with people bring on large items and hogging overhead bins. This culture is evident in the forum as people continually ask about enforcement by various airlines.

Posted by
5805 posts

I have bad memories of the really inconvenient times our luggage was delayed--think ski vacation with 4 kids and a husband with size 15 feet. Anyway, lately I've been checking bags, when a delayed or lost bag won't screw up my life, for the sole purpose of collecting the skymiles when my bag doesn't come in 20 minutes. On a recent trip to Seattle I got 2500 miles each way for late bags and another 3000 when the video monitor didn't work. I got just about 3.5 times more miles than the actual miles I earned from the travel. Granted Delta skymiles definitely deserve to be called skypesos, but miles from late bags has been adding up.

Supposedly the miles for late bags is going to disappear, but for the time being, I'm loving it.

Posted by
848 posts

We carryon going over, check the bags flying home. On our RS BOI tour, it was 6 days before a tour mate’s bag showed up. That was enough to make me realize that hauling a 21” rolling bag thru an airport really wasn’t that bad.

Posted by
8183 posts

We spent 2 days in a cheap Atlanta hotel waiting for one bag to show up with our car keys in it. It never made it on the plane in the Prague Airport.

We no longer check any bags, and we travel with one 21 inch rolling bag each.

Posted by
992 posts

I have taken Delta to Rome and back, and to Amsterdam and from Brussels. I took American on other trips. Both airlines did the job ok. I prefer American because Delta seems to have their own security procedure which is more than legally required, which involves me getting pulled aside for an extra special-pat-down and search of my bags. (I am a single man solo traveler, currently bearded but I trim my hairs every 4-8 days with an electric beard trimmer). In case any of that matters. Delta also puts a little sticker on the cover of your passport to show they did their extra procedure. American doesn't do any of that. But sometimes Delta has a better flight for where I am going. My current luggage is an approximately 19-inch long travel bag made of heavy-duty woven nylon, without wheels; and a Jansport school backpack with padded back, padded shoulder straps, and leather bottom. I carry just 2 changes of clothes in the wheel-free travel bag, and everything else in the backpack. I was able to carry both bags on the plain every time; But at least twice I had to check in the travel bag with my clothes, because I was carrying a 3rd bag with food that I didn't want to get squished or crushed if I tried stuffing it into the backpack. I got my travel bag back with minimal difficulty except that I had to find which place to conveyor belt machine to pick it up from and my bag was one of the last ten bags to be unloaded each time. Usually my luggage is on the boarder line of looking like it will fit and looking like I should check something in. My stuff squeezes into tight spaces better than wheeled luggage.

Posted by
169 posts

My general rule is to book a direct flight & check the bag - usually just one - and have my smaller carryon to deal with. Obviously that doesn't always work as an option, but besides the "lost luggage" challenge there is also just the nice bit of not changing planes or worrying about connections - for myself or my luggage.

I can't count the international flights (or domestic) I've been on anymore, but I can count the lost luggage. One time after a major delay with Icelandair (hub/spoke out of Keflavik), our flight missed the outgoing window from Iceland and they scrambled to reroute all the passengers - mostly via London and onwards - but the scramble and the mix-and-match of other airlines to finally get us to Germany meant our bags did not arrive until the late evening to our remote hotel in the Black Forest. Absolutely nothing wrong on the part of the THREE airlines that ended up handling our flight and bags - on the fly - except that they just weren't able to get it onto our final flight from London (where we were never supposed to fly through in the first place).

Posted by
68 posts

We just returned from a trip using Delta, had our carry on going from Florida to Paris with layover in Atlanta. On the return flight, we checked our bag through but still ended up having to retrieve it in Atlanta so that it could be put on our next plane. It seemed like it defeated the convenience of having it checked through. It would have been faster if we'd just kept it with us and not had to wait for the baggage lines. Is this the norm?

Posted by
6698 posts

That's why I like European layovers on the way home, as opposed to the US. But that's easy for me to say, as I live near Minneapolis, which is a big Delta hub.