Is it Cheaper to Ship or Check Your Bags?

If the cost of checking your bags at the airport matches the price of airfare, consider other options. Did you know it may be cheaper and more convenient to ship your luggage instead?

Is it Cheaper to Ship or Check Your Bags

There are a few frustrating aspects of air travel, especially if you travel with a large group and/or small children. Flights are often delayed, TSA lines take forever, and the guy next to you will inevitably take the entire armrest. One of the most exhausting things for me, though, is having to lug multiple bags around.

Most of my trips consist of me taking my two small boys back to Texas (from DC) to see the grandparents. We typically go for a week or two, which means plenty of stuffed suitcases. And carry-ons full of iPads, snacks, and changes of clothes. Oh, and don’t forget the giant car seats. This usually means that I am trying to wheel 3 suitcases through the terminal whilst holding the hands of small children and balancing carry-ons for all. And don’t even get me started on our annual ski trips, when I have to bring along snow gear.

Oh, how I wish my luggage could just appear at my destination without all of that mess. Well, thanks to some luggage delivery services, it can.

These luggage services will make your air travel significantly easier, picking up your bags and delivering them safely to your destination–whether that be an island hotel, an NYC penthouse, your cruise ship’s dock, or even just Grandma’s house. If you’re looking for an even easier experience, some of these companies will dry clean your clothes for you or store your rarely-used equipment until you’re ready to travel again.

So, while the convenience factor is obviously there, is shipping your luggage an affordable option?

Why You’d Want to Ship Your Luggage

There are a few reasons that a luggage-shipping company would be more appealing than trekking to the airport with your suitcase. Just visualize me and my children precariously balancing our suitcases with our car seats, and you’ll get it. But even those traveling alone or with adult groups can find value in sending their luggage with someone else.

It’s Easy

Shipping your luggage is a piece of cake. Rather than dragging your bag up an escalator and standing in line to check it, you can simply breeze through security with your boarding pass. You’ll save yourself time and energy, and your bag will just be waiting for you at your destination.

Most luggage shipping companies offer door-to-door service. They will usually pick up the bag a few days prior to travel, though there are some companies that will store your luggage and your clothes year-round. Then, when you’re ready to head out, simply log in and request the bag along with the items you need, and it’ll be there when you land.

It Frees Up Space

My family loves to ski, but we really only take one ski trip each winter. For the rest of the year, our snowboards and skis are simply taking up space–and a lot of it. This is where certain luggage companies really come in handy.

These companies will store your sporting equipment and rarely-used items for you year-round, for a reasonable fee. Then, when the time comes to hit the slopes or hang ten with the family, simply log in and request a delivery. Your equipment will be waiting at your destination and, after your trip, will go right back into storage until your next trip.

For those with limited storage space, this can be a very tempting option, especially if you currently have this kind of equipment taking up space in a paid storage unit.

It’s Affordable

If you’re only traveling with one or two suitcases, checking them in with the airline is probably easier. It will save you some money and the hassle might not be enough to warrant shipping your luggage. (Of course, if you want the convenience of bag-free travel, it’s well-worth it!)

However, if you’re traveling alone with small children, in a very large group, or don’t want to deal with large equipment, a luggage shipping service is a great option. Plus, it costs less than you think.

If you have certain airline credit cards, you may be able to get free checked bags when you fly. Otherwise, you can expect to spend $25-50 per bag for domestic travel; go over the standard 50 pound weight limit, and you’ll wind up paying a lot more in fees.

By contrast, you could spend maybe $20 and have your bag delivered straight to your hotel room. Is the convenience worth that to you? For many people, it may very well be.

Cost Comparison

So, just how much does a luggage shipping service cost? Let’s check out some examples.

Example 1: Two bags, 40lb each, heading round-trip from Chicago to Orlando

If traveling on Delta, I would pay $60 each way ($25 for the first bag and $35 for the second bag), for a total of $120. By contrast, I was quoted $180.98 by LugLess for my round-trip travel.

The $30 extra each way might be worth my time if I was traveling with the kids, flew out of an airport notorious for long baggage check lines, or simply didn’t feel like waiting at the baggage claim belt. Otherwise, it would definitely be a splurge.

Example 2: Three bags, 40lb each, heading round-trip from Chicago to Orlando

Now, let’s imagine that I’m traveling alone, but I plan to stay a while. I want to bring three total suitcases on my flight, and I’m flying American. While my first bag through the airline is $25 and my second it $35, the third bag is where it really hurts. I will pay $150 each way to take a third suitcase! For bags number four through ten, the cost is $200 each way. Wow.

By shipping with a luggage company, though, I would save a ton. Again getting a quote from LugLess (their website is easy to get quotes–I didn’t pick them for any other reason), I found that I could ship all three bags for as low as $170.98. I was given the option to get my bags back home a day later than I originally wanted, which saved me an extra $22 on my quote, but I was amazed to find that the quote for three bags was cheaper than the quote for two.

Not only that, but I would save so much over the airline’s charges. My round-trip checked bags through American would cost me $420 total. By shipping my bags, I could pay as little as $171, a savings of $249. All I would have to do is pack them a few days early and be alright with them getting home a little later than me.

Example 3: One bag, 78lb, heading from Seattle to Phoenix

Overweight baggage fees can be painful these days. The additional charge for bags weighing more than 50lbs, or in some cases over 75lbs, can easily dwarf the normal baggage fees. This is where shipping your luggage might also make sense.

If flying from Seattle to Phoenix with a 78lb bag, I would pay $200 through American each way. In total, it would cost me $400 to fly round-trip with my suitcase.

By contrast, shipping my bag would cost as little as $80.98 round-trip, even accounting for the extra weight. Talk about a serious savings.

If I could trim a few pounds and get that bag down to, say, 60lb, I would save a bit more. American would instead charge me $100 each way (or $200 round-trip). However, shipping through LugLess would be only $70.98 round-trip… yet another chunk of change saved.

Shipping luggage might not always make sense. Sometimes, it is easier (and cheaper) to just haul it onto the plane with you. However, depending on how many bags you’re bringing, how heavy they are, and your value of convenience and time, a luggage shipping service might be an excellent option.

Just be sure to allow for some extra time on each end. Your bags will usually need to be picked up a couple days before your trip and might arrive home after you. If I can save hundreds of dollars in checked bag fees, though, it’s well-worth it in my book.

Topics: Travel

Leave a Reply