Have you had it with all of the extra airline fees? If you have, it is because you have discovered the vast array of potholes and gotchas that these companies have installed in order to get the most out of us. In fact, today’s airlines are about how many people they can cram into a space and they have made it clear that the days of flying no longer means saying goodbye to loved ones at the gate, free movies, and an enjoyable meal. In addition, this no-frills type of travel has become such a challenge that it is almost a game. One part of this game is played when a savvy passenger figures out that they can avoid additional costs if they take the time to become familiar with the rules. You see, there are ways for you to avoid the hassles and save money despite the roadblocks laid out by the various commercial carriers and TSA.
The first tip involves getting the most out of the TSA rule known as 3.1.1. This rule states that each passenger is limited to one, one-quart sized plastic bag containing individual bottles up to and including 3.4 oz. of liquids or gels. In order to maximize the number of items in this bag, you may need to invest in a zippered, plastic bag instead of using a cheaper Ziploc bag. It has been my experience that the zippered cases appear to actually hold slightly more than their Ziploc counterparts. I believe that this additional capacity is the result of the way that plastic zipper bags are designed. Of course, what you you carry and the shape of your gel or lotion will also affect how much you can carry on. If you have difficulty finding a compliant plastic travel case, Amazon offers these units with an assortment of empty bottles.
If you already have the case, you can save further money by remembering to take those free little bottles of shampoos, lotions, and hair conditioners that are often left behind when you check out of a motel or hotel. These little units are a perfect fit, so start collecting them and use them as containers for your future air travel. Remember, you can always rinse out what is in the bottle and refill it with your own assortment of toiletries or beauty products. If this is too time consuming for you, you also have the option to purchase airline-sized products at your local retailer. These, however, can be quite expensive and will most likely cost you as much as a larger bottle.
Next in the long line of airline travel frustrations is determining what the airline you are flying has designated as a personal item. A personal item is something that you can carry on board in addition to your luggage carry-on. I would highly recommend that you check the air carrier with which you are booked to fly in advance to help you determine what the carrier considers a personal item. However, in general, personal items are considered to be one purse, a camera bag, a diaper bag, one laptop computer case, or one item of a similar size to those previously listed. There are many exceptions to the rule, but I want to concentrate on just two of the listed items.
The first of these is the purse. In this case, the airlines do not provide a description or give a dimension or size requirement. In fact, in some cases, the purse has been replaced by a backpack. For women, then, this means that the bigger the purse, the better. For this reason, my wife bought a rather large (and ugly) handbag that she only uses when we travel.
This large handbag, tote, or purse is perfect for holding additional items, such as medications or an extra set of underwear, that you might need to carry with you on your trip. In fact, my wife’s purse is so large she has room to toss in her Apple iPad. The side pockets can be used to hold snacks or other small items that will increase the amount of space available in your carry-on luggage.
The other item I want to mention is the laptop case. Again, it is another one of those items that is not designated a size or any other specific requirements. As a result, it gives the passenger another opportunity to store additional items. This computer case, for instance, is described as having the ability to hold up to an 18″ laptop computer. There is nothing in the description that says that the computer inside of the computer bag must be that size. This means that, if you use the bag to transport a 15″ computer, there will still be plenty of room inside for additional items. Once again, this frees up space in your carry-on baggage. In fact, you can lighten the load further if you do as I do and carry a 17″ computer bag for your Nexus 7 or any other tablet. My Nexus 7 works well for me since I have equipped it with a Bluetooth keyboard for when I travel. If you do this, you are then free to fill the extra space with other items that you will no longer have to stuff in your carry-on bag.
The next tip comes in for those who still haven’t bought a carry-on bag. Buying the right one is part art, part intuition, and a little bit of magic all rolled into one. First you want one that will last and, while most of us are aware that black makes us look thinner, it also does not show the grease that can mark up your bags. I recall one trip when we checked red luggage only to discover that when it came off the conveyor belt it looked like it had just received an oil, lube, and filter change. This was an expensive lesson since it cost me a total of $100 to check those bags that needed to be replaced.
Due to that experience, I finally decided to take the bull by the horns and do something to avoid paying for the privilege of having my luggage destroyed. I figured I could use the money I saved on future baggage fees to purchase everything I needed to make my travels less expensive.
The best carry-on luggage is wheeled and you need to find one that all airlines will accept. What I found, which has worked for me for the past four years, is a piece of luggage called the Netpack Wheeled 20″ Gear Bag.
You will find that this particular bag is size compliant at 9″ x 20″ x 11″, has easy roll wheels, a telescopic handle with two position adjustments, and is very well-made. On the front side of the case are two pockets that hold a significant amount of small items. The inside of the bag is large enough to handle enough clothing to last the average person for about one week’s stay. However, the biggest bonus is the two large pockets located on both sides of the bag. The side compartments can easily hold two pairs of shoes, plus a pair of socks in each shoe. I checked with four of the major carriers and this bag meets all of the specifications that they have designated to be allowed as a carry-on.
As a side note, I did not purchase all of the items that I have mentioned from Amazon. I merely used Amazon and the images provided to show you the items I purchased.
Comments are welcome.
CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by mcbeth