Luggage Worries when Traveling
No need to struggle
with piles of luggage - have someone else do it all for you,
door to door.
Traveling with luggage has
become even more difficult. The new baggage security procedures
and airline crackdowns on luggage allowances add to the hassle
and uncertainty of traveling with checked baggage. Several
companies have developed innovative and excellent solutions to
Have someone else transport
There we were - checking in
for a ten day journey to Florida, and the check in agent asked
us 'how many pieces of luggage do you have?'. I smugly replied
'None!'. The agent looked very surprised and so I explained
'We've sent our luggage ahead with Sports Express'. He smiled
and we did too - traveling with no luggage is truly a wonderful
and liberating experience.
We didn't have to carry our
typically very heavy and bulky suitcases anywhere. We didn't
even need to tip anyone. We simply left the bags on our front
door step and found them, waiting for us, in our hotel room at
the other end. What a marvelously convenient way to travel!
New Problems with Bags
From 1 January, new security
requirements now have the TSA scanning every bag for explosives.
Unfortunately, their high-tech million dollar scanners can't
tell the difference between a bar of chocolate, a block of
cheese, a piece of soap or a lump of C4 explosive. As a result,
there are very many false alerts as the bags go through the
explosive detectors, and for that reason, all suitcases must be
unlocked so that security people can open them up and search
through them for the cheese or soap or chocolate or explosives
(question - what say you hide explosives inside a block of
cheese - how would they detect that?).
Many people are
uncomfortable about leaving their suitcase unlocked - either due
to the lack of security, or due to concern that the suitcase
might burst open, and others just plain don't like having
someone search through their personal belongings.
Then there is the issue of
liability - if something goes missing or is damaged in your
luggage now, who is to blame - the TSA or the airline? No-one
In addition to these new
security complications, the airlines are tightening up on your
free baggage allowances. Many airlines now charge extra if your
bag weighs more than 50lbs, and many airlines are cutting back
on the number of bags you can ship for free. And although in the
past you could often 'sneak' an extra or overweight bag onto the
plane by generously tipping a skycap or due to a friendly ticket
agent giving you 'the benefit of the doubt', these strategies
are now more difficult. Increasingly, passengers are finding
that they're having to pay extra money to transport their bags.
Old Problems with Bags
In addition to these new
problems, all the old problems still exist. You can never be
exactly sure where your bag will go, or when you will ever get
to see it again! And there is also the danger of the bag getting
scrunched up in the baggage handling machinery in the airports,
or of being stolen or pilfered.
Even if everything goes
perfectly, you can still count on as much as a 30 minute wait
for your bag to come off the carousel, and you have the hassle
of schlepping it around with you.
For all these reasons - old
and new - a service that transports your bag from door to door
is a wonderful thing.
How these Services Work
As you'd expect, whereas the
airlines seem to do all they can to make traveling with checked
baggage as unpleasant as possible, these third party baggage
services do all they possibly can to make the experience as
painless and pleasant as you'd ever hope for.
Simply phone their (800)
number, or use their website, to schedule a bag pickup. You tell
them the number and approximate size/weight of the bags (ie are
they small, medium, or large suitcases), when you'd like them
collected, and where you want them delivered. In my case, I
simply said 'please pick up my bag from my house and deliver it
to my hotel'.
You then choose from fast
overnight, regular overnight, two day or three day service. Pay
their fee, and that's it.
You don't even need to put a
baggage tag on your bag. They take care of all the paperwork and
all the hassle. And you can safely lock your bag, because it is
shipped via an airfreight or air courier company - there are no
security inspections to worry about.
Packing a Day Earlier
I was a bit unsure about
this - because I'm typically a terrible last minute packer,
running around in a mad panic and then rushing late to the
airport, worrying all the while about what I'd forgotten.
The concept of packing your
bag and shipping it out a day early (or two or three days early)
took a bit of a mental adjustment. But I ended up finding that I
absolutely loved the idea.
I had a much easier time of
packing the day before, and with the bag already gone, could
truly relax the next night and the day of the flight, and head
to the airport when I wished to with only the remaining
essentials in my carry-on bag.
In addition, the inevitable
remembering of things forgotten happened between when my bag was
taken and when I went to the airport myself, and so I was able
to then take items that would have otherwise been forgotten with
To my surprise, having one's
suitcase taken the day before travel ended up as being a
wonderfully liberating and relaxing experience, and an
unexpected side-benefit of their service.
For the return service from
the hotel back to home, I just left the bag at reception when I
checked out, and had it delivered to my home the next morning.
That was perfectly convenient as well.
More than just a Courier
Sports Express and the other
luggage services generally contract with brand name courier
services such as Federal Express to do the actual physical
transportation of your bags. But they wrap the basic Fedex type
service with a wonderful layer of added value services. For
example, they eliminate the need for any paperwork or air
waybills. Indeed, I didn't even need to be present to hand my
bag to the pickup driver - I just left it on my doorstep and
when I returned home, there was a receipt for my bag pinned to
my front door.
They also provide a
dedicated team of 'Travel Concierges' who can responsively and
sensibly help with any luggage related issues; indeed these
people even pro-actively monitor the progress of your luggage so
that if there is a potential problem, they can anticipate and
respond to it before you even realize it.
And, if things do go wrong,
you have a real person who understands customer service there to
help you. The combination of the courier companies and their
computerized tracking abilities, and the added value help of the
Travel Concierge makes for a situation 100 times better than
what happens when an airline loses a bag. No need for detailed
forms to be filled out, no long lines to wait in, no phone
numbers to call for updates but which are always busy or never
answered - instead you get fast, helpful, service and accurate
detailed information about where your bag is.
I really don't know if
sending a suitcase via Sports Express is more or less likely to
result in a delayed or lost bag than sending it by the airline,
but I do know that if something does go wrong, Sports Express
will do a much better job of solving my problem than would the
At one point, I wasn't sure
I completely understood part of their service, and so emailed
them a question outside of their regular hours. Within three
minutes of sending the email, my phone rang, and it was a
friendly helpful Travel Concierge, reassuring me that everything
was correct and proceeding properly.
They can also supply you
with specialty packing information - if you have some types of
sports equipment, for example, they know all about how best to
pack such things.
For Business Travelers, Too
When I lived a peripatetic
life on the road, I'd often be doing road-shows that required
traveling with a large amount of material - perhaps a trade show
stand, boxes of brochures, samples, and other gear. These days,
ticket agents would have a field day assessing me all sorts of
over-weight, over-size, and over-limit fees for my bags (and
sometimes in the past I had to send particularly bulky items air
freight, which was a massive pain).
Now, using a Sports Express
type service, business travelers can be free and unencumbered,
having their baggage and other traveling gear handled for them
with no hassle or convenience.
It cost me $87.45 (in 2003 -
my guess is that in 2008 the cost would be at least double) to send a
large heavy suitcase, on an overnight service, from Seattle to
Key West (two or three day service would be cheaper, of course).
Is this cheap or is it expensive? It saved me a considerable
amount of time (at checkin and upon arrival) and a considerable
amount of inconvenience (no security or other hassles).
To some people, the time
savings and efficiencies have a great value; to others, the lack
of hassle and simplicity of service has a great value; but, of
course, to some, the $87.45 is the over-riding consideration
(always assuming that the airline isn't going to charge a fee
for the bag, anyway!).
The choice is yours.
To close, I can only repeat
my opening comment - traveling with no luggage is a truly
liberating experience. And isn't that what travel is supposed to
be all about.
Next time you want to treat
yourself to a truly hassle-free and stress-less journey, have
someone else look after your luggage for you. It really makes an
amazing difference to the start and end of your journey.
I have used
Express and based this article upon my experiences with
their service. Clearly I feel comfortable recommending them to
Other similar services also
exist. One other company operates under the dual brands of
Luggage Express and
Bellhop (not exactly sure what the difference is between
them), but only Sports Express seems able to give instant
interactive quotes through its website.
And, if you have negotiated
very good corporate discounts with a particular courier company
and are comfortable with their more 'bare bones' industrial
grade of service, they too can present as a third option for you
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17 Jan 2003, last update
28 Nov 2012
You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.