I had a friend send a message on Facebook the other day which said something to the effect of “I don’t fly because I don’t like people going through my stuff and I don’t like to leave home without everything I might want or need.” He went on to ask “Is there any reason I can’t ship my luggage ahead of time to my destination?” He has not flown since 9/11 and wanted to know if there were companies which handled shipping luggage.
Whether it is worries that your luggage may be mishandled or rifled through if you check it – or if you are not wanting to contribute to the over $3 billion in baggage fees collected by domestic airlines in 2014, there are definitely alternatives to checking bags. If you have a second bag or an overweight bag, shipping may be an option for you to consider. What none of us want to see is a situation where our bag or its contents is damaged or lost as a result of airline negligence.
Keep in mind that in most cases, shipping a regular sized suitcase is not always the cheapest alternative, but it can often be the most reliable. Most US carriers charge $25 for the first checked bag (this fee is usually waived for loyalty members or credit card holders) with second and third bags costing an additional $25-50. Excess baggage or overweight fees can range from $50 to $200. And with so much emphasis on size for cabin baggage, I bet many do not know that checked bags can have an excessive size fee attached to them as well, up to $200 depending on the carrier. Smarter Travel has an excellent updated chart for airline fees which can be found here.
Below are some options available if you choose to ship your bag. All quotes were for a suitcase measuring 24″ high x 18″ wide x 10″ deep being shipped from South Carolina to San Diego, California.
The rates for UPS, $77.38 were slightly higher than FedEx at $64.39.
SendMyBag – began quite simply in Northern Ireland, born out of necessity. It has expanded to the United States and which guarantees door to door luggage services vowing it “will not be beaten on price.” It also guarantees that Express Service Items with the United States will arrive on time or you can get your money back. The rate for our SC-California shipment would only cost $50.00 for its 5-6 business day standard shipping rate. Remarkably, the company charges only $99 to ship a bag weighing up to 33 pounds door-to-door between the United States and the UK, with delivery in 2-3 business days! The Company also offers discount shipping options for students.
Luggage Forward – was started in 2004 by two Massachusetts friends who were, quite frankly, tired of dragging their suitcases through crowded airports. Since its inception, it has brought seven other luggage delivery companies under its umbrella. It works closely with FedEx, UPS, and DHL to provide both domestic and international shipping, specializing in cruise ship deliveries. For our sample bag to be shipped from South Carolina to California, Luggage Forward would charge us a rate of $99 with about a 4-6 day delivery window. International shipments (SC to the UK) would cost approximately $269 for a seven day delivery ($20 more for five days).
LuggageFree – is another service which will ship your luggage, but with a twist on figuring shipping costs. Instead of simply having to pay a flat rate for the box (luggage), travelers pay a per pound rate which is determined by the destination. Sending my box of clothes to the UK with LuggageFree would only cost $5.57 a pound. In addition, the service offers an on-time guarantee — if the luggage doesn’t show up as scheduled, the company will pay travelers up to $500 for the inconvenience. They also have special rates for golf bags, ski bag, snowboards, etc. Delivery is guaranteed for 7 days or less and expedited shipping of less than 5 days costing a bit more.
For the truly organized and adventurous, there is also DUFL, a service which will not only deliver your bag to you, but will pack it as well. Billing itself as a ‘premium valet service’, DUFL will have you select and send an assortment of clothes to them. When you are ready to travel, using their app, you choose the clothes you would like to have and they pack them for you. The DUFL app also allows you to track your bag. After your trip, the case is returned to DUFL where your clothes are cleaned, ironed, and stored until you need them again. The service requires a monthly fee of $9.9 in addition to a $99.00 charge per trip. Personally, I can see where this might make sense for an international businessman who may travel to the US quite a bit, but for the everyday businessman or leisure traveler I don’t see it as being very practical.
So there definitely are some viable and competitive alternatives to checking a larger suitcase. While I may never use one of these options for regular travel (I try to manage with a carryon and a backpack), I can absolutely see myself using SendMyBag’s service to the UK. We have family in England and the UK shipment rate far beats anything UPS or FedEx or even the US Post Office could offer me for shipping.