by Mark Albert
I like to be nimble when I travel. So much can go wrong with schedules, flights, planes, people, computers, etc, that it’s vitally important you look out for you—because no one at the airline will, no matter your elite status. I’ve learned that the hard way.
So to be able to change course swiftly, I don’t check luggage. Ever. Two days, two weeks. Not gonna do it. Here’s why:
I look at travel as “tapas” – small bites of culture, food, and sights that I can take in during a brief, several-day visit. I know I won’t be there very long and I want to enjoy all the time that I can.
I don’t check a bag so that I can be mobile when flights get cancelled or travel plans go haywire and I can hop on a different flight or just drive to another airport in a pinch.
Ticket agents and gate agents at the airport are much more willing to put you on a different flight if they don’t have to fish out your bag from the belly of a plane.
Combined with Global Entry, which allows me to speed through customs and immigration upon arrival back in the United States, not checking a bag has allowed me to save hours on each return, enabling me to hop on an earlier flight to my final US destination.
Combined, the savings in the past five years are worth about three entire days of my life—THREE DAYS worth of not waiting for luggage and getting home sooner.
Don’t Check a Bag, Make Money
The other reason I don’t check a bag is because it could end up making me money.
I’ve found gate agents are more likely to accept your offer for Voluntary Denied Boarding, when you willingly give up your seat on an oversold flight to take a later one, if they don’t have to retrieve your checked luggage.
As an example: I had booked a ~$300 flight and, at the gate, “took a bump” for a flight three hours later in return for a $600 voucher for use within one year on that airline—and was upgraded to first class for the later fight.
So not only was the trip “free,” but they paid me an additional $300. That’s $100/hour to sit for the next plane.
Wouldn’t you like to make $100 an hour?
Then try not to check a bag next time you fly and you might get the chance.
Do you check a bag? What are your tips for traveling light? Let us know in the comments section below!
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