Find your way through the airline bag maze! Five expert travel hacks to avoid luggage woes
- The Mail on Sunday’s Neil Simpson looks at how to prevent luggage woes
- EasyJet’s new app lets you scan your bag at home to check the dimensions
- The sooner you pay for extra bags with airlines, the cheaper it will be
Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week he packs his bags and investigates the fast-changing world of holiday luggage…
The right bags can make or break a holiday or weekend break. Too big and your cabin bag may be put in the hold.
Too heavy and you’ll risk hefty surcharges at check-in. Too flimsy and your case can come off the carousel half empty. Here are five ways to avoid a baggage fail.
Size matters: Choosing the right carry-on bag is crucial to the success of your trip
One: Go high-tech. The new easyJet app lets you scan your bag at home to check it meets the airline’s hand-baggage requirements. If you have an iPhone 6S or newer, use the camera to measure the case – effectively putting your bag in a virtual version of an airport measuring slot.
Bags are also going high-tech. The CX Compression-Expansion case from Briggs & Riley (about £500) lets you pile clothes high as the case expands by a third before compressing to a normal carry-on size.
Two: Get the facts. Airlines constantly change their hand-baggage rules (Ryanair changed policies twice last year), so don’t assume the bag you took last time will be accepted for free. And don’t assume all airlines are broadly similar.
Fly with Jet2 and you can take a generous 56 x 45 x 25cm bag into the cabin plus a handbag or laptop bag. Fly Ryanair and you can have only one 40 x 20 x 25cm bag, and it has to go under the seat in front of you. Maximum dimensions include wheels and handles, and most airlines reserve the right to weigh hand baggage as well.
With BA you can board with a hefty 23kg of cabin bags. With TUI and Thomas Cook, the limit can be just 5kg and you can pay up to £18 per kilo for any excess.
Get the best: Size isn’t everything when it comes to suitcases and durability counts, too
Three: Get organised. The sooner you pay for extra bags, the cheaper it will be. Fly Air France and you’ll pay £61 to check in two extra bags in advance. Wait till check-in and it’s £30 more. Jet2 charges a £45 airport fee if you bring an unexpected extra bag to check-in. Standard allowances also vary hugely between airlines. On most BA tickets, you can normally check in up to two bags free. With Virgin it’s one bag and with Aer Lingus it can be zero.
Four: Get the best. Size isn’t everything when it comes to suitcases. Durability counts, too. That’s why researchers at Which? road-test dozens of bags every year – a £1 trial subscription gets you access to individual reports on cases ranging from £30 to £1,140.
The Good Housekeeping Institute does a similar job and its top three bags (available in cabin and check-in sizes) are American Tourister Bon Air (from £100), Samsonite Lite-cube DLX 4-wheel (from £365) and Samsonite Uplite 4-wheel (from £155).
Five: Get help. If you don’t want to drag your suitcases to the airport, you don’t have to. Delivery firm AirPortr will collect bags from your home or workplace up to 48 hours before you depart. Bags are sealed, weighed, X-rayed and put on your plane, so you pick them off the carousel at your destination like everyone else.
The service (which also takes golf clubs and prams) starts at £30 a bag, or £40 for up to four bags, and operates for people flying with the likes of BA, Virgin or easyJet out of Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton. For more details, visit airportr.com.