Make Your Next Flight Better — and Cheaper

  • By Brett Arends, Marketwatch
  • July 15, 2014

First, consider the math. Major carriers have been raising the costs of checking bags. Typically, according to their websites, if you are flying within the U.S. or Canada they’ll charge you $25 to check the first bag, and $35 to check the second. You’ll also pay a fortune for anything that weighs over 50 pounds — typically $100 for 50 to 70 pounds, and $200 for 70 to 100 pounds.

As an illustration, FedEx will charge $37 to ship a 25-pound suitcase all the way from New York to Los Angeles, and $65 to ship a 50-pound suitcase. If you are going a shorter distance, it’s less.

UPS says it also does good business from travelers who prefer to ship their luggage. It offers sturdy and lightweight “luggage boxes” designed to replace suitcases. “We hear from the franchisees that there is a spike in luggage box usage as we get into the summer travel season,” says spokeswoman Laurie Mallis.

“We also specialize in packing odd, oversized items, such as golf clubs and fishing poles — items [people] would prefer to have waiting at their destination rather than lugging them around an airport,” she adds. It’s not just about the up-front cost, either. If I’m not dragging my luggage with me, I no longer have to take taxis to and from the airport. I’ll just take the subway.

And there’s the whole hassle thing. I love the idea of saying goodbye to my luggage and not worrying or thinking about it until I arrive at the hotel — when it is either in the storage room or waiting in my room. (“Oh, I sent my luggage on ahead” — how wonderfully Edwardian!)

No last-minute packing panic the night before the flight. Get the packing done early, and then forget about it. (You can always pack a few essentials, and any last minute items you forgot, in your carry-on bag).

Brett Arends is a MarketWatch columnist. Follow him on Twitter @BrettArends. This article originally appeared on and is reprinted by permission from, ©2014 Dow Jones & Co. Inc. All rights reserved. 

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