Air Etiquette – do you check or carry?

On the US Airways aircraft

When you travel by plane, do you check your bags or carry on? We like to carry on our luggage — and as you can imagine we raise a few eyebrows along the way.

Bag checking fees are bad enough. And with five people in our party, the cost can really add up.

Another consideration: What we bring on the plane also has to fit in our rental car. We’ve found that most full or mid-size vehicles and SUVs will carry about four roller bags or two large bags and two medium-sized bags. So we travel really light.

But wait! There’s more! The kids have their school books, too. We take advantage of the personal carry on to carry our computers and text books. (If you think about it, teaching in a plane is a lot like teaching in a classroom. Not a lot of space to move around, captive audience, lots of time to do work or read.)

So when we’re lined up to board all five of us have a backpack and a roller-bag. We meet the requirements. But we get the dirty looks.

On a recent flight from Los Angeles to Orlando, the gate agent counted our bags before allowing us to board. In Dallas, a flight attendant did everything but pull out a tape measure when we tried to board the aircraft.

And on a flight from Hawaii to LA, a couple trying to make our flight almost collided with our slow-moving family. We saw them again on the plane, when they asked Chris to help them get their luggage in the overhead bin. How funny.

There are many reasons why we don’t check our bags. But that might change. Our next trip will be to visit five of our favorite Vail ski resorts in Colorado and California. I don’t think our boots and helmets will fit in our school bags.

Good thing we’ll be flying with Southwest.

Do you check or carry your luggage?

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Kari Haugeto

Kari is a serial entrepreneur with an education addiction and a profound curiosity that, more often then not, fuels some pretty incredible adventures. Currently her attention is focused on social and digital media technology and she is developing a project with her family of five and a variety of sponsors to share their cross-country adventures online in an interactive, socially responsible, educational and authentic manner.


  • http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.ligtenberg Rebecca Ligtenberg

    I travel light whenever possible, but generally my answer to this question is, “whatever is FREE.” :)

    • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

      I totally agree!

  • bpepy

    I usually carry my stuff on, but I have discovered that if I have something I really don’t want to deal with on the plane, I gate check it, for free!

  • Paul Edward Montador

    As a Scotsman, we always look for the best deals, so what is better than FREE!!
    If I take a large bag, I’ll check it as the Free Allowance, but carry on my Roller bag and Laptop