Skip Baggage Claim and Have Your Checked Bags Delivered
One of the biggest downsides of a family ski trip is the amount of luggage you have to bring along with you if you fly. Even if you are renting ski equipment when you get there (and we usually do), packing a whole family for snowy fun takes up a lot more room in the luggage than say a beach trip. In fact, the amount of checked and carry-on luggage we had to bring for our family of four plus Grandma and Grandpa to Colorado this ski season was borderline hysterical.
When it came time to fly home at the end of the snowy adventure, we were down one family member (Dad, who had to fly a different direction for work) and we were landing after midnight. Waiting at baggage claim and managing all of the bulky bags with little exhausted kids after midnight didn't sound like a high note at the end of a trip. So, I pulled an old trick out of my travel toolkit and called on Bags VIP to claim and deliver our checked bags to our house. This allowed us to leave the airport and head home with only our carry-ons as soon as we landed, which turned out to be at 1am.
What Is Bags VIP?
Bags VIP is a third-party service that partners with some airlines, but can be booked directly regardless of which airline you fly as long as they operate at that airport. The list of airports where they operate is quite lengthy with more than 250 inclusions, but you must be on a domestic flight (or be traveling from an international destination where you pre-clear customs). Bags VIP will claim your bags after you land and deliver them within 100 miles of the airport to your home, hotel, etc. The first 40 miles are included, and if the delivery is further, it costs $1 extra per mile, up to 100 total miles.
The base fee for the bag delivery service is $29.95 for one bag, $39.95 for two bags and $49.95 for three to eight bags. For a whole family, the price is pretty reasonable. Do note that these charges are in addition to any checked bags fees you'd pay directly to the airline (here's how to avoid those fees).
Bags VIP says that they will deliver your checked bags to your final destination within four to six hours of landing, depending on the distance from the airport. Late-night arrivals after 11pm, such as mine, should be delivered by noon the next day. You must book Bags VIP at least one hour before departure and can do so online or over the phone.
My Experience With Bags VIP
This was my second time using the baggage service and my review this time around was mixed. The bags did make it to me all in one piece, and it was a true blessing to not have one more thing to mess with at 1am. However, Bags VIP did not claim the bags from the baggage carousel after our late-night landing and so Frontier Airlines called me at 2:30am wondering why I hadn't claimed my items. I was then wondering why they weren't claimed myself! Frontier agreed to put the bags in their baggage office for the night, but that part of the process didn't make me feel warm and fuzzy, especially because the airline baggage employee had never heard of a bag delivery service.
Based on text and email notifications, it seems Bags VIP claimed the bags from Frontier by 9am the next day. However, they did not arrive to my house until about 1pm, so about 12 hours after our landing time. I live less than 40 miles from the airport. Bags VIP did not notify me they were going to be later than the stated 8am to noon window and there was no sort of compensation offered (or requested) for the delay.
Being an hour later than the set delivery window wasn't really a big deal for me, but the confused call from the airline wondering why my bags when unclaimed at 2:30am wasn't ideal. I have to imagine that if the flight landed earlier in the day, perhaps the bags would have been claimed quicker. That's just a guess based on my use of the service years ago when the delivery was made within an hour of landing to a nearby airport hotel.
In a similar situation, if I really needed logistical help, I would use Bags VIP again. However, the late-night arrival situation made me feel uneasy as my bags were apparently just sitting all alone at the baggage carousel until the airline claimed them and called me at 2:30 in the morning. It would have been very easy for the bags to just walk away before the airline intercepted them, and I'm not sure 100% certain who would have been the responsible party at that point. So, proceed with caution under similar situations.
If you are thinking of using this service and curious how it codes on a credit card, it coded as "Freight Service," so no bonus points for travel this time.