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New experience - I checked a bag!

For twelve years, I've never checked a suitcase, always having one carry-on. Twelve years ago we took our first RS tour to celebrate our 25th anniversary....still have that old green RS roller bag and know the advantages of packing light.

Well, my business trip this month to Florida involved a 3-hour layover in Atlanta, and a very tight connection on the way back to Seattle with the small planes that make you pick up your normal-size suitcase after un-boarding passengers. So, instead of my regular habit of using my 20" suitcase, I pulled out my old RS bag and filled it with items for the 2-week business trip.

New experience at the airport - I had to go to the section in the airport to check-in and find out where to hand-off my suitcase. Easy & no line. Then for the boarding. Do you know those crazy people who are always trying to get onto the plane ASAP? Yes, that's me...because I need to secure a spot for my suitcase. But, this time I could relax when they called the flight and let the overhead bins fill up.

When I arrived at both destinations, my bag was on the conveyor - probably because there's few checked bags now.

I definitely will continue to carry-on for any vacations, but it was interesting to experience "the hand-off".

Posted by
8234 posts

I hadn't checked a bag in 10 years, and had to check one last year in Prague. Of course my car keys were in bag.
We stayed in a Days Inn at the Atlanta Airport waiting for my bag to appear--2 days later.
This year, we went back to carrying our bags on the plane.

Posted by
3259 posts

I'm off carrying my luggage on the plane. I pack light, but check my 20" bag. I got tired of schlepping it around. And I'm tired of waiting for other people to load and unload their carryon baggage, holding up the loading and deplaning, etc. so I decided I wasn't going to be one of those people. I do carry on all my electronics, documents, keys, etc. I bring on anything I can't do without, which can fit in a small tote and under the seat. I've never had a problem with checking bags in my lifetime, nor has my family, even skis arrived before dawn when missing the plane. There's nothing in my checked bag that I can't buy in Europe, and I don't hurry my vacations to the extent that I couldn't enjoy shopping for everything in Europe either…although, again, there's never been a need and likely, there will never be a need.

Nonetheless, I do take a photo of my bag, tie colorful fabric onto it, and properly label it so it is easy to spot by myself or airline personnel. You also need to watch to make sure the correct label goes on the checked bag by the airline personnel. But that's it, really.

Posted by
19167 posts

Ten years ago, I had a one hour change of planes in an eastern city. My plane was an hour late leaving Denver due to deicing. The airline met us (13) at the gate and took us around to our international flight. I doubt that any checked luggage made the connection. I was sure glad to have my carryon bag on my lap.

Twice I've arrived in Denver, jet-lagged, with just enough time to get to my bus home. Had I had to pick up my bag at the carousel, I'm sure I would have missed my bus and had to take the next one, an hour later.

I'm not going to be checking bags in the near future.

Posted by
18 posts

Welcome to the dark side of the force. Some of us have been partaking in this subversive practice for many years.

Posted by
11507 posts

I always check my bag.. even though most times its small enough to carry on.. but like Wray I just think its a hassle.. and I have only had a delayed bag once.. about 15 yrs ago in Miami.. and it arrived next morning and was sent to hotel.

I do however make sure that I don't book wonky flights with lots of connections.. none at all if possible, because each time a bag changes planes it has more of a chance of going missing.

I also make sure losing a bag means just losing clothes.. all valuables are with me.

Carry ons are great for some.. but I love dumping my bag at the check in.. and like Wray , I do watch to make sure its properly tagged by airline staff.. and I make sure I have it properly labelled ( and remove all old tags and stickers)..
I also label inside suitcase. Just in case.

Posted by
1175 posts

We like to check our carry-on bags on the trip back to the US. We pack light going over but enjoy buying things like special mustard, pate, etc that wouldn't pass the TSA requirements. If we have a late arrival in the US with a tight connection, our bags are delivered to our home the next day. Works for us.

Posted by
3941 posts

We generally only check a bag when we are coming home. Always because we stop to visit my sister in the UK and always get an extra piece of luggage for our purchases, therefore putting us over our 2 piece limit. I will say we did check a bag when going to California as we took an extra carry on size since we were renting a car and wouldn't be lugging it on trains.

But the bad thing about knowing we will be checking a bag - it doesn't encourage us to travel as light as we'd like...and also encourages us to purchase more stuff to bring home knowing we will have an extra bag! Ah well, life could be worse ;)

Posted by
529 posts

We have gotten to where we just check bags. The hassle of trying to squeeze our bags into the limited space is just not worth it, plus it holds up the boarding and deplaning process. Also, I hate to babysit our bags while waiting to board or between flights (booked through on one ticket). But, I have to admit it is not fun waiting at baggage claim, especially after a long European flight.

Only once has a bag been delayed. Of course, it was my husband's and he had left the car keys and house keys inside. Upon finding his bag was not going to magically appear, we came up with a scathingly brilliant plan. I said not to worry as I had a house key, so we jumped into a taxi and headed home. After paying for our ride and waving bye-bye, I discovered the key I had been carrying as a house key, for years, was not to our home!! What?? Thankfully his mom had a key, so we finally got in. The next day, we drove back to airport to retrieve his car and his bag was delivered later that day. Now, when we are headed home, I ensure he has transferred his keys to his day bag.

Posted by
9363 posts

I always check a bag. I have never had a checked bag even get delayed, much less lost. I once had a handle malfunction at Heathrow and couldn't retract it, so it had to go with the "fragile" things. I wasn't at all sure how that would turn out, but Virgin Atlantic got there safely, and no more broken than it already was.

Posted by
2630 posts

I always check my suitcase--not an enormous one because I have learned the joys of travelling light, but because it's easier than being part of the mad dash to get a spot on the plane, and I also bring a good-sized zipped tote with the essentials in case it goes astray. That bag fits under the seat and I feel ready to face anything as long as I have that with me.

Posted by
1205 posts

I have always checked my bag for the last 30 years and I never had a problem. But I will say I have always had a direct flight. Leaving from Newark, I am able to get direct flights. Having a connecting flight would be more worrisome.

Posted by
14244 posts

Laughing Jean, at your new travel experience!

I am of the carry on going over and checking the suitcase full of dirty clothes when going back home school of travel. I also leave my home airport on a commuter size plane where you have to gate check. The only time I have checked going over I had a very short connection time in SLC (and no, I won't do that again even though I know that airport well enough I can make a 37 minute connection) and yes, my bag did make it. This last trip I had a 5.5 hr layover in SEA on the way over where it was a pain to manage my bag for that time frame, but coming back I had a 9 hr layover in SLC and I KNEW I did not want to manage that suitcase for that amount of time.

Collecting the checked bag in SLC for customs was no problem as the Immigration line was so long that it was off the conveyer belt and waiting when I got thru, then at the end it's just Lewiston ID so really baggage claim is no big deal, lol.

The one time I got messed up with checking on the way home was a domestic trip last Dec where I was delayed leaving Tucson so missed the last flight of the day to Lewiston resulting in an overnight in SLC, then the Lewiston airport was fogged in ALL day Sunday (flew 2 flights to Lewiston and they both had to turn around and return to SLC) resulting in Night 2 in SLC. It would have been nice to have my suitcase then.

Posted by
16087 posts

I'm amused too. :O)

I'm afraid we're also die-hard checkers as it's just easier not being restricted to what we're allowed to carry onto a plane. I also intensely dislike having my bag end up far from me if all the storage bins near my seat have already been filled, and having to wait until everyone else is out to retrieve it if it ends up in the rear.

Posted by
32264 posts

Jean,

I always check my large Pack when going to Europe, and have experienced very few problems with that approach (actually only once). My bag was "delayed" on the trip home last year, but since I was now at home that wasn't a problem. The airline delivered it to my front door the next day.

Posted by
127 posts

I just got back from New Orleans. I've got to say, there are flyers that don't check bags that are about the most selfish flyers in the world. One guy was so bad that when the bins filled up and he had to go back about 15 rows to find a spot, he started rearranging what was in what bin and THEN, after cramming his bag in, proceeded to push his way upstream past all the chumps that he beat out for bin space. When we landed, he again pushed his way upstream to reclaim his bag while other flyers were trying to de-plane. We arrived fifteen minutes early so this wasn't a matter of trying to make connections or something. He clearly thought his life was far more important than any of his fellow passengers. I think the airline have it wrong in charging for checked bags. They should incentivize checking luggage by charging $50 for carry-ons beyond a simple backpack, purse, or computer bag.

I usually will check a bag, especially on business trips where business attire arrives in problematic shape after having been stuffed in my RS convertible. I've only hit a couple snags over the years.

Posted by
16087 posts

I suppose we must be utterly hopeless at this travel lark.

LOL, Keith!!! We haven't hired a car yet but I'm unashamed at the bag-check thing. As far as euros, we make sure we come home with some excess from the trip before so we don't have to buy any (not an option for the first-timer).
But ATMs are wonderful things, and what we've done upon landing. Nope, no moneybelts or neck pouches for us either.

Granted, I get it that 40-50-pound bags are a PITA for hauling around Europe but ours are not even close to that, and there's another way of looking at the whole carry-on debate. If you love it, then fine but it's not the do-all, end-all either. As long as you can physically manage by yourself what you bring, then go for it.

Posted by
2261 posts

Keith! What's wrong with you ?

Posted by
7447 posts

Keith, we skipped our reservations at the Borghese Gallery in Rome because we were having such a great time at the Rome Cooking Class. Having a great meal and learning so much from Chef Andrea was a wonderful experience - seemed counterintuitive to quickly change into frantic mode to try to arrive at the art gallery on-time. No regrets. : )

Posted by
3259 posts

They should incentivize checking luggage by charging $50 for carry-ons beyond a simple backpack, purse, or computer bag.

Sean, I'm totally with you on this!

Posted by
565 posts

I have to pack lite sometimes for work. Hate it. I'm leaving for Paris in a few weeks with 70lbs of luggage containing my absolute best wardrobe and more beauty supplies than I could use if I exceeded my 90 day allowance. Like Keith, I'm going to bypass most of the great museums and drink entirely too much at least a couple of days. The following days I may even sleep till noon. I'm going to do some severely touristy things like eat at a restaurant that serves wine in baby bottles, an overpriced Seine dinner cruise (the one with the dance floor of course!), and maybe even go to the Moulin Rouge (been and I know it's aweful). Oh, I'm leaving my passport in my apartment, not hotel, because I love living like a local doing all those things haha (or like having a place to store my champagne and sleep in). Plus my unsecurable designer purse really is only a good place to store my overpacked beauty supplies and a wad of euros I bought off somebody at a party ( ok, that's a lie. I won them in a poker game). Wow. I feel better sharing that!

Posted by
19167 posts

"They should incentivize checking luggage by charging $50 for carry-ons beyond a simple backpack, purse, or computer bag."

That would clog the baggage carousel that you use, and you'd have to wait longer than you do now (for the people with carryon bags to retrieve them). Instead I suggest:

  1. Stop the checked luggage fees. Before they started charging them, most people checked bags, and we didn't have this problem.

  2. Enforce the carryon size rules they already have.

If that doesn't free up enough space,

  1. prohibit rigid (ie, roller) bags. Flexible, convertible bags conform better to the space available, or

  2. reduce the allowable size to, say, 2000 ci (19 x 13 x 8), and ENFORCE IT. That would make more space in the overheads since most people couldn't live with that little amount.

As for allowing only a personal item, only one major US airline (United) gives a size limit for a "simple backpack", 17" x 10" x 9" (1531 ci). That's the same volume as an Appenzell Day Bag. Since I can fit everything that normally goes in my regular carryon in an Appenzell Day Bag, I guess I could still carry on.

Posted by
503 posts

I, too have never carried on a bag. Have always checked because I can't stand lugging it around in the airport even though it is a wheeled piece. I just find it cumbersome to take it off and on the many different planes/flights it takes to go and return from Europe. Only once has my bag missed my flight but the bag was delivered on the first night...no problem. I agree with others, I have seen people who carry on plop their luggage in overhead bins that are no where near where they are sitting, just the first available, and then walk all the way back to their seat. When the people who have the seat where the bag was dumped get on the plane, there is no longer room for their carry on. I know that the bins are not "marked" but common sense tells you that your luggage belongs in the bin above or near your seat. I just stress out too much about this to get involved---check it and forget it.

Posted by
2232 posts

In the interest of public safety, I check my carry-on about 90%. I'm short and I qualify got senior discounts; it doesn't matter how much time I spend at the gym lifting weights or how light I pack, it's only a matter of time because that bag going up starts coming back down. On domestic flights I can usually get a gate-check freebie and on international flights, by the time we've gone through immigration the luggage isn't far behind.

Posted by
368 posts

I too am a checker of bags. I hate to lug it around and since I mainly take non-stop flights it gets there when I do. I did get parted once when my flight from Florence to Paris was late. I made the flight to San Francisco, but my luggage got lucky and got to stay an extra day in Paris. I did get it the next day. I carry on a backpack with what I can't do with out and if my luggage would get delayed. Hey shopertunity.

I also dislike the people who stuff their bag into the first bin they see then go to the back of the plane to their seat. But what is worse is the people who block the isle folding their coats and going thorough the bags to see what they need for the flight, consulting with their travel partner etc. I put a small bag in my back pack with my flight essentials ear plugs, eye mask, neck pillow, iPod, kindle and knitting, pull it out as I board and toss the rest in the overhead and get out of the way!!! The small bag will fit under the seat.

Oh and don't forget the people who have a suitcase, purse and tote, one of which smacks you in the head as they stagger down the isle. :-)

Posted by
32264 posts

Barbara,

"But what is worse is the people who block the isle folding their coats and going thorough the bags to see what they need for the flight, consulting with their travel partner etc. "

I agree with you on that point. I also find that annoying, especially the people that insist on spending five minutes folding their coats in a meticulous fashion before they put them in the bin! That's been a bit less of a problem since the airlines started boarding according to seating position (ie: back to front), but the aisle delays still seem to happen on a regular basis. I always try to make sure I've got my gear sorted before boarding the plane. When I get to my seat, one small bag goes into the bin and the other under the seat in front, and I can usually be seated in under a minute.

Posted by
15662 posts

Checking a bag?

The inhumanity of it all; it's heresy; it's sacrilege; it's the end of civilization as we know it.

What's next? Hawaiian shirts? Sandals with socks? and dare I say it.........shorts?

Please, at least, don't stop using the non-disposable water bottles. It's the only way we Americans can spot each other in case of worldwide apocalypse. We're the only ones who insist on carrying them. Everyone else just either buys water when they are thirsty or uses a water fountain. The fools......they will die of thirst while we Yanks insist on staying fully hydrated.

Posted by
24 posts

Frank II,

Ha! I love your above comment. Thanks for all your input to the forum.

Posted by
1221 posts

. The fools......they will die of thirst while we Yanks insist on staying fully hydrated.

But the fools will not the the ones forced to suffer the indignity of ducking into a McDonalds on Les Champs Elysees and buying a one euro Coca Cola Lite so their party has restroom rights in a city often lacking in public toliets.

One request to the backpack folks- sling them in front of you on the jet bridge and carry them kangaroo-style as you go down the aisle of the plane. So many people aren't aware of just where their backpack swings when it's on their back, and the unfortunate answer to that on a plane is often 'uncomfortably close to a seated passenger's head'.

Posted by
15662 posts

But the fools will not the the ones forced to suffer the indignity of ducking into a McDonalds on Les Champs Elysees and buying a one euro Coca Cola Lite so their party has restroom rights in a city often lacking in public toliets.

Cause and effect--don't hydrate and there won't be a need to duck into McDonalds as often.

:)

Posted by
311 posts

But I am very proud to have peed in the Champs-Elysees Mickey D's!! =P

Posted by
16087 posts

And I at the one in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan…before it was replaced by (sniff) Prada.

Posted by
3941 posts

Ahhh - fond memories of the McD's bathroom saving my life on the Champs...lol...

Posted by
15662 posts

A question to the last few posters.....did you memorialize the occasion by taking a selfie?

Posted by
16087 posts

Heck no. I'm a philistine who doesn't have a Facebook account or a smartphone, checks my luggage, doesn't wear a moneybelt, and has no fear of the Circumvesuviana… and can spell that word without looking it up!

Posted by
9855 posts

I too agree with SEan that they should charge to carry on significantly sized bags. Also, I flew Southwest when I was home last month and they still allow TWO FREE CHECKED BAGS. you know what this meant? I'm certain it was much easier for the baggage workers -- because (since I was traveling from my parents' home to my brother's to see him, my sister-in-law and nieces and thus was taking many Parisian gifts!) I checked two none-too-heavy suitcases instead of ONE HUMONGOUS VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO LIFT ONE. It was so much easier for me and anyone else to handle!! Ugh .. . . .I get so tired of this one-suitcase-packed-to-the-gills thing.

Posted by
101 posts

I have lugged a heavy bag around an airport during a long layover with an aching back, and cursed myself for not checking it.

I have also arrived in a steamy tropical country for a business workshop with no suitcase, because the airline lost it, and barely one change of clothes. And on another occasion, had to get through the first two days of my vacation without any of my stuff.

My new rule: Always carry the essentials in a small backpack or tote, so that if I need to check the bag, it won't be a catastrophe if it is lost or delayed. And I have always put my car keys, basic toiletries, and electronics & chargers in my personal bag.

As for bin space, all that's needed is for airlines to enforce the existing regulations. I see people boarding with ridiculously oversized items and there is rarely any oversight. This seems to be particularly true for American carriers.

Posted by
28 posts

Checked my bag returning from the UK. Took forever to get it - almost missed connecting flight. Never again! Next time I'll just pack a toothbrush.
I 'm tired of having people smash their overpacked carryons into my RS Convertible bag and crushing it like it's not even next to theirs, so I agree - there has to be some enforcement by the airlines. Of course, the most important thing for them is a rapid departure, so we'll never see a Bag Monitor on the jetway...oh well!

Posted by
630 posts

Checked my bag returning from the UK. Took forever to get it - almost
missed connecting flight. Never again!

Zotz20, we've had connecting flights before and the airlines moved our luggage to our next flight. Just curious why you had to retrieve your luggage from your connecting flight.

Posted by
5697 posts

Airline or government rules -- you have to claim your bag at the first U.S. airport and transfer it yourself to the connecting flight. Had that happen at Dulles and it took an extra hour. That's why we try to take non-stops.
Edit -- this was on the return trip coming back from Europe to SFO.

Posted by
544 posts

I wonder if people who have had more of issues with checked bags are connecting at airports in the USA? My bag was delayed a year ago when I had to connect in both Amsterdam and Paris on my way to Ljubjana, but before that I haven't had a bag delay since back in the 90s.

Posted by
11613 posts

Sadly, Lee, some of us cannot physically put even 17-18 pounds on our backs, so I guess there would be special permits for us to bring wheeled bags on board? My 20" semi-soft RS bag fits in an overhead bin with room for at least 2 more similar bags. I would pay $25 to bring that bag onboard.

I also tend to check the bag for the return flight, but carrying it on lessens the chance of damage to the bag, I think. I have had lost and mangled checked bags.

Posted by
1265 posts

It depends whom I travel with. If I'm traveling with the woman whom i'm related to by marriage, I check my bag. If traveling solo, I carry on. One exception, If I'm using Southwest Airlines, I check my bag(s).

Posted by
2495 posts

I am one who checks her bag 98% of the time. I pack light but have difficulty getting my suitcase in the overhead as I am getting older. I am in Strasbourg right now and have had no luggage for going on 4 days. I checked with the airline this afternoon and they are unable to locate it. I have 12 days left to my trip before heading back to the states. I am now a bag lady i.e. my new "luggage" is a shopping bag with a few new things that will get me through this trip. I am hoping my luggage is eventually returned to me when I get home. This is the first time anything like this has happened to me in 25+ years of travel. I think I will reconsider checking a bag again. Maybe just bring a toothbrush and buy some clothes when I get here.