carry on verses checking 1 bag

ms-thriftyApril 29, 2014

This is the first time in a while that I am flying, and the first for a very short trip-just about 1 1/2 hour flight, and need to pack for only 3 days. If I do carry on I will need to buy a smaller bag, as my old one is a tad too big for carry on. It is also still in decent shape, and my flight offers free checked bag. I will not be in a hurry at the destination airport, so have time to claim baggage before getting shuttle to hotel. Guess my ? is is it easier and quicker departing to just check bag, than to carry on?

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Easier and quicker??? Depends totally on the airports involved. If you are departing from a large airport with curbside check-in, that's generally very easy and quick. If you have to check a bag inside at the airline counter and there is not a designated agent for that, then you could end up in a line with people getting boarding passes, changing flights, etc and that could be a while but again, depends on the airport. I fly out of O'Hare so do everything in my power to have carry on only and my boarding pass either printed or on my phone. BTW..... as a warning, even when you have your boarding pass on your phone you can run into issues. I was flying out of Aspen and their monitors went down so you had to have a printed pass and the kiosks were also down. The lines for getting a printed boarding pass from ticket agents were out the door and I almost missed my flight.

Do you know what kind of plane you are flying? For short flights, the smaller planes will often gate check any bag you bring because nothing really fits in the smaller overheads. No cost, no wait - you can find out from your airline.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 3:21PM
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I guess it depends on how you look at it....some people don't like dragging a suitcase through security, through the airport and onto the plane. Others are more comfortable having everything with them....and you don't have to wait in line to check the bag...on arrival at the airport you can head straight through security then to your gate.

My DH flies a lot for work and usually does not check a bag, especially going. He figures if they lose his luggage going, he's stuck in a strange town with no clothes. Coming back it doesnt matter..he's got plenty of clothes at home.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 3:24PM
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I check mine unless I'm just going overnight and bringing a very small, lightweight bag. I really don't care to rush the gate trying to get on early enough to get a space for a carry on suitcase. If you travel frequently or otherwise have status and can board early then not so much of a problem there. If not you're competing with the hoards of people trying to stuff their overstuffed bags into the overheads to save $25.

I've been traveling for almost 35 years, many of those years frequent business travel. DH has even more time in the air than I have. Neither of us have ever lost a bag on the airline and only three times has my bag been delayed in arriving and I still got it the evening I arrived, in time for morning use. And I'm never in such a great hurry that I can't spend ten minutes at baggage claim. I usually need to go that way anyway for ground transportation.

I guess when the time comes I have a lost/severely delayed bag I may rethink checking but for now I prefer it.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 5:33PM
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Another question is whether or not you can manhandle the bag off the carousel at the end of the flight. Maybe whoever is meeting you can park and do it for you, or maybe your fine getting it yourself. So far, I've always done it myself.

Can you get a carry-on bag up and down from the overhead rack? I do see lots of people ask the closest big guy to help them.

Put the things you absolutely cannot lose (electronics and meds) into your purse.

Do you have to change flights? If so, there is slightly more of a chance that your bag won't make the change, although that has never happened to me. Personally, I;d just go with the bag you have and check it.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 9:18PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

If it was a short flight and there was an option to gate check, I always did that. Otherwise carry-on. With the rolling bags it's pretty easy to manipulate while in the airport...except maybe in the lady's room booth.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 9:31PM
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Also remember that a carry-on is limited to (roughly) 3 ounce containers of liquids and gels packed into a quart sized Zip Lock bag. NEVER check anything valuable.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 10:46PM
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I fly every 2 weeks and I pack for 4 days each trip. My bag never weighs more than 20 lbs. The absolute easiest is carry on. Next easiest is gate check. I never do the full luggage check any more unless the bag is well over 20 lbs.

Have a great trip!

Ps...yes, one can pack for one week and keep the bag under 20 lbs!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 11:27PM
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It's really a toss-up which method is better. I try to do carry-on only for most of my trips but it's worth $25 to check a heavy bag or when I have a long wait before the flight or between flights.

I thought the best case scenario was when they took the carry-on at the gate and you didn't have to pay the fee. However, they made my elderly Mum gate check her bag and they didn't have it when she got off the plane. Somehow it went to Puerto Rico when she went to Oklahoma! It didn't catch up to her until 10 pm the night before she returned from the 5 day trip. Naturally, they didn't have an explanation of how that happened. You think they're taking those bags right from the gangway to the belly of the plane, and I'm sure they do 99% of the time, but that didn't happen in this case. I swear on her little white haired head that it happened. They took it when she was on the plane and they ran out of overhead space. I'm sure it's less likely to get lost when many people are leaving bags at the door of the gangway.

The downside to a carry-on is you're stuck lugging everything through the airport, including into the ladies room, while waiting for your flight. And then possibly fighting for overhead space once you get on board.

I've always wondered about those people who get on a plane with just a purse. How do they do it? I need a purse, electronics and other valuables, books, snacks, water, and a large scarf.

You may carry-on and still have to wait for your hotel shuttle if they time it assuming people waited at the baggage carousel. Or when you're traveling with a group and one of them checks, you'll have to wait for their luggage.

The advantage of buying a new, smaller piece of luggage is they make them so lightweight now. My newest carry-on is 5.9 pounds when empty, over 2 pounds lighter than my older carry-on. Even if you don't carry it on having lighter luggage is a bonus for when you do handle it.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 10:31AM
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I've had my checked bags lost enough times that I always do carry-on now.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 11:46AM
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I've flown with just my purse, after checking my bag. Purse has a book, some Lifesavers, a bottle of water and my phone. Of course, I would be up sh!t's creek if my bag got lost.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 5:07PM
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