Taped or carry bag? What is best for airports now

TThe recent rise in air travel and flight delays has left travelers wondering if checking a bag is a good idea. Summer vacations, holidays and weddings have kept airlines and airports busy for the past two months, with air travel returning to pre-pandemic figures. More than two million people flew from US airports every day last week, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The air travel industry may not be equipped to handle the demand after more than two years of COVID-19 travel restrictions. Staff shortages on a large scale have become a major problem for airlines.

Between July 5 and 14, more than 54,000 flights around the world were postponed, making up 20.8% of all flights in that time frame, according to FlightAware, a flight data collection company. Delays and cancellations were almost common in 2019, but FlightAware credits this year’s obsession with delays clustered around holidays and other high-traffic periods.

With baggage loss becoming increasingly common — as the airline industry struggles with staff shortages, delays and cancellations — checking baggage or holding on to a handbag can make a huge difference to a person’s travel experience.

Is it a good idea to check the bag?

Checking baggage is a classic part of air travel that most travelers are accustomed to. Nearly 55% of travelers check some or all of their luggage while flying, according to a survey by Go Group LLC.

Karim George, owner of Culture Traveler and a member of the 2022 A-list travel advisory board at Travel + Leisure, says checked baggage is convenient if you want to pack more, especially for longer trips, and to avoid the hassles of lugging around your things at the airport.

“When you have a handbag, that’s another element. Yes, you have complete control, but you are more dependent on travel. You can’t walk into the airport with a backpack or a handbag,” George told TIME magazine.


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Checked baggage also has fewer content restrictions, providing ample space for liquids and souvenirs for loved ones on their way home. It can also be a better option for travelers who have young children or disabilities which can make getting around the airport more difficult.

Passengers who decide to check baggage should pay attention to the additional fees for the service. Checked bags for domestic travelers start around $30 per bag and increase for each additional bag. The weight limit is generally 50 pounds per bag, and bags of more than that can cost travelers over $100.

Read more: Air travel is hell this summer. It won’t be fixed anytime soon

SITA reports that “lost” baggage is not uncommon as 92% of lost bags are found and returned to their owners, but baggage screening can slow passenger traffic as well. In April 2022, US airlines mishandled nearly 220,000 bags, meaning they were lost, damaged, stolen or delayed, according to the US Department of Transportation. SITA reports that 77% of baggage mishandling cases are caused by delays.

“With delays and cancellations, there are higher chances of your luggage getting lost,” travel blogger Wendy Perrin tells Time magazine.

Delta Airlines took an innovative solution on July 11 to reunite passengers with their baggage after the flight was cancelled. Delta flew a passenger plane from London to Detroit filled with just 1,000 pieces of luggage. The baggage flight was only an attempt to speed up the return of checked baggage for travelers and to help clear the baggage backlog at Heathrow. Such measures are interesting approaches to overcoming delays and cancellations of persistent flights.

Hold on to carry-on baggage

Carry-on baggage, which is usually limited to one small suitcase or duffel bag and a briefcase or other smaller item, must fit under your seat or in the overhead compartment on the plane, which can make it difficult to pack due to size restrictions. During busy flying seasons, keeping luggage with you can come in handy.

“If you can only fly with hand luggage, you’re in better shape for a lot of reasons,” Perrin says. “Personally, I just want to use handbags.”

Handbags are touted as a practical option for efficient packing and for greater and faster mobility during transit.

“Based on the upheaval we’re currently seeing with airlines, this is definitely a big boost in favor of just the handbag because it gives you an extra layer of control and less anxiety. You are able to go straight to the gate, and have everything with you,” says George.

Connecting flights is another factor in the decision to travel with a handbag.

“You have a higher success rate in making tight connections. We always advise as much space as possible, within reason, between connections for convenience.” [and] Do not miss them, but there are cases when it is difficult to avoid them. When you have everything in your handbag, you can just get up and go,” says George.

Domestic and international travel don’t differ much in terms of baggage transfer, but Perrin mentioned that Europe tends to have slightly different restrictions on size and weight for carry-on baggage, and George said it’s important to note that traveling through different countries with checked baggage is challenging. Add hassles if lost or delayed.

What can you bring in a handbag?

A representative of Delta Airlines clarified that although traveling with checked baggage or carry-on baggage is only a personal choice, there are some items that passengers should always bring with them on the plane, such as medication and medical equipment. Sometimes airline officials may ask passengers to check their luggage when there is no extra space on the plane, and travelers need to be prepared to keep some things with them.

“Let’s say you’re at the gate and the gate agent says, ‘We want you to check your bag.’ Bring your medical equipment, your keys, your wallet, and keep these things with you,” a Delta representative said.

Read more: Are you going on vacation this summer? Welcome to the “revenge travel” economy.

Over the years, airlines have squeezed more seats on narrow planes to make higher profits without adding enough storage space to keep up with flight capacity. In addition, the increasing trend of fees for checked baggage is making more travelers choose to fly by hand only, but some airlines have started charging fees for carry-on baggage as well. United, Spirit, and Frontier all charge for full-size hand luggage with select tickets.

A Delta representative noted that medical devices, such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices, qualify as additional portable items outside of the two standard permitted items. There are also some exceptions for liquids, including prescription medications, breast milk, and infant formula, which have no quantity limits in hand luggage.

TSA guidelines limit each passenger to carry 3.4 ounces of liquid, cream or gel items in their carry-on baggage, in addition to the above medical exceptions — an added inconvenience for passengers traveling on the plane only.

In the end, choosing between the ways of checked baggage and hand baggage is a personal decision based on lifestyle and preferences.

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