Monday Nov. 24, 2014 @ 10:13 am By

So, I have often wondered if the “final solution” and goal for airlines relative to luggage is… stop all checked luggage transport. Anymore, with size, weight, number of bag limits and the high cost of bag fees, I am not sure how one could not see it any other way. But why, why would they do this? My theory has always been that the more free space they have in their cargo holds they can sell this cargo space for more money to companies needing items shipped than is raised by fees – but fees help if the cannot sell their space for cargo shipping.  For example, it is not uncommon for say USPS to acquire space in the belly of a plane to ship it’s mail for them. It is more cost effective to use a plane already traveling than to schedule one specific just to deliver the cargo; a double dip so to speak. Sure, they can charge us for bags and have fee on top of fee for luggage, but I suspect they can charge some freight company or broker needing products delivered to another location way more to transport them than is collected via bag fees – but bag fees are still a good fallback plan until the no checked luggage days arrive.

This being said, a newer – but certainly not the first (Luggage Forward) – service has popped up for shipping one’s luggage ahead. has a fairly affordable, relative to prices I have seen in the past, for shipping your bags to your destination. And, they have an international option. As an example… I flew to Spain this year to race Duathlon World Championships. I had to pay an exorbitant $250 one way for my bike. So $500 to travel with my bike in total. Incidentally, I remember the days of taking my bike to race in Europe when the bike traveled for free. Yes, free. Anyway, using the quote form from, it would have cost me $169 one way or $338. So, a $162 savings. That is a fair bit of savings I must admit.

BUT would I have actually done it even though the price has come down and is cheaper than the airline charges? As much as I hate paying those exorbitant bike luggage fees – especially since they don’t handle it any different nor do I get any more coverage or guarantees it will even arrive or arrive undamaged nor is it any harder to manage than any other piece of luggage despite their claims (I know, I have watched my bike case being handled on dozens of flights and they treat it no different than any other luggage and it takes no special effort as they throw it like they do everything else) there is something to be said for arriving at my destination and being able to get my bike right then, right there. Sure, it is possible the bike could get misrouted while traveling, it happens. But I have to admit, getting off my flight, getting my bike from oversized luggage and getting on my way knowing I have my bike so I can race (the whole reason I am traveling)  is worth a little extra cost to me versus having to ship it off many days ahead of my trip to allow for travel/ship time and praying it gets there as it passes from the luggage service to the actual shipper to the luggage service and to my hotel or apartment. This means a lot more moving parts and certainly more days of planning and being without my bike. And even more ironic is, it will likely be shipped via one of the very same passenger planes I am flying on as we know these luggage services do not own their own planes, they use a broker or make a deal with an airline to get the luggage shipped. So, a $250 bike luggage fee by an airline for essentially doing nothing special and guaranteeing me nothing extra can be had for $169 where someone comes and picks it up and it meets me at my hotel/apartment – and both could be using the same passenger planes to get my bike to the same destination.

It’s a tough call, but for now, my gut is telling me I would still opt to have my bike up until they day I leave, take it with me on the plane, and have it with me the moment I land knowing it is in the belly of the plane right below me. Is that worth $162 savings to me? Yes, given I have invested months of blood, sweat and tears and paid big money to prepare & travel for this race, $162 is not barely a good pair of shoes saved.

ps – The one time I shipped something ahead via USPS to the NYC Marathon (a bunch of gels and nutrition in amounts too great to take on the plane as carry-on as 99.9% of the time unless I have a bike I can travel with only a carry-on) not only did USPS loose it, they actually delivered it 2 weeks later to my hotel!

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