Why You Should Never Check a Bag [opinion]

In the past year or so, I’ve traveled for weeks at a time without ever having checked a bag underneath an airplane. This was a conscious decision not only to save money, but for some additional benefits. Below are my thoughts on why you should never check a bag.

Look familiar - Jet Blue's Baggage Fees as of October 28, 2015

Look familiar – JetBlue’s Baggage Fees as of October 28, 2015 – (And I love JetBlue)

Delta's Baggage Fees as of October 28, 2015

Delta’s Baggage Fees as of October 28, 2015

As of the past few years, airlines have been beginning to charge for checking bags underneath the aircraft. Anywhere from $20 prior to check-in to an astronomical $50+ one-way.


You could end up spending $100 on checked bags just for yourself – probably a good fraction of your ticket cost.

Here are some reasons why I don’t check bags in anymore:

  • Less to unpack/pack while traveling
  • Less to remember
  • Allows you to de-board the airplane quicker. No more waiting around at baggage claim.
  • Check-in is a breeze since you just go thru normal security
  • No one has a chance to go thru your belongings (also get a TSA approved lock if you place luggage under the airplane)

The longest trip duration I’ve had without checking a bag has been 2 months. I even had that bag stolen while traveling, so I didn’t even have to worry about it on the flight from Helsinki to Zurich.

Usually for these transatlantic flights, I’ve been able to bring my 38L Osprey Pack onboard without any problems. But, Spirit Airlines is the first American based carrier that limits the size of the bag you can carry onto the airplane. I love Spirit while a lot of other people grumble at it. You have a chance to score super cheap flights, but you have to fit everything into a school backpack. I’ve packed a week’s worth of clothing and my work gear into that backpack and haven’t regretted not bringing that other pair of pants.

RyanAir Flyers courtesy of the Daily Mail

RyanAir Flyers courtesy of the Daily Mail

If your bag is too heavy or large, you could get creative and put a ton of clothes like these flyers above.

I can see why checking a bag might be important for your trip. You could have a snowboard, media equipment, or other special equipment that requires you to check it in underneath the aircraft. Perhaps you needed to bring a tent with you for camping while traveling. Or a ton of clothing that you cannot live without.

Similar to my experience buying toothpaste abroad, you can buy just about any clothing abroad as well.

Trust me – save yourself the stress and money by trying to check zero bags in on your next flight.


Life-Long Learner, Explorer, & Web Developer. Currently a Software Engineer at Jazz.

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