Can You Store Your Family's Bags at the Airport?
The amount of gear necessary to travel with a family can feel overwhelming at times. Yet you may not need all of that stuff at your destination -- for example, why take winter coats and boots on a trip to Hawaii. Storing some of this stuff at your point of departure or connecting airport could make a lot of sense, but only a few US airports offer storage options these days and many are limited to 24 or 48 hours.
Where Did All Those Airport Storage Lockers Go?
Whatever happened to storage lockers at airports? Terrorism. At many airports lockers were taken out after Sept. 11, 2001, and never replaced. Still, a few short-term storage options remain at some US airports.
Why Store Bags?
For families, it's a significant convenience to be able to store armloads of ski jackets or a bag of gifts or sports gear or specialty clothing when you won't need it until your return. Some families also use storage services to make the most of a long layover so they can leave the airport to stretch their legs at a park, take a city bus tour, explore a children’s museum or dine at a local restaurant.
What Stuff Can My Family Store at the Airport?
Consider short-term storage for:
- Winter coats when traveling round-trip from a cold destination to a warm one.
- Bulky or fragile items. For example, if you buy fragile souvenirs on the first leg of your trip and don’t want to lug them with you, leave them at your connecting airport.
- Your luggage, if your layover is long enough to leave the airport and explore.
- Backup baby supplies, like diapers and changes of clothes, for use when you return.
Pay and Go
It doesn't cost all that much to store bags when you can find a concession at the airport. Expect to pay by the hour or by the day. For example, BagstoGo.net, which offers bag storage at all four terminals at the Ft. Lauderdale airport, charges $8 per day per bag, for up to 30 days.
There are a few things to be aware of when using a bag storage service:
- Be prepared for your bag to go through an additional security screening. It also might be subject to a hand search.
- Do not leave food, perishables, trash or anything else that might develop an odor or attract pests, in a stored bag.
- Be vigilant about the service's opening hours. The hours for bag storage services vary from airport to airport. Allow extra time to retrieve your bags.
- Expect to go through the security lines again. Most storage options are outside the security checkpoint.
Where to Find Airport Storage Lockers
Here are some the few US airports that offer baggage storage services:
Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport (FLL): Bags to Go offers services in all four terminals. In Terminal 1, it's across from Baggage Claim Carousel 1. In Terminal 2, baggage storage is next to the Business Service Center on the Departures (Upper) Level near the TSA checkpoint entrance. If you're in Terminal 3, bag storage is in the Baggage Claim (Lower) Level across from Baggage Claim Carousels 4 and 5. And in Terminal 4, head to Baggage Claim (Lower) Level next to the Spirit Baggage Service Office. Hours of operation vary by terminal. $8 per bag. For more information, call (954) 359-5505.
Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport (MSP): Lockers operated by Smarte Carte are located in Terminal 1, inside security at the entrance to Concourse F and in the middle of Concourse C near Gates C2 and C13. The lockers employ fingerprint technology to make sure only the person who stores a bag can retrieve it. The fee for a locker (23 inches high by 15 inches wide by 35 inches deep) is $4 for the first hour and $1 for each hour thereafter, for a maximum charge of $12 per day. Note that bag storage is only for 48 hours or less. Lockers are emptied after 48 hours.
New York/JFK International Airport: Concessionaire API offers lockers at Terminal 1 Arrivals on the first floor and at Terminal 4 Arrivals on the first floor. Fees range from $4–$16 per bag, depending on size, for 24 hours. For more information, call (781) 751-2947 (for Terminal 1) or (781) 751-4020 (for Terminal 4).
San Francisco International Airport (SFO): Airport Travel Agency offers bag storage ranging from $7–$10 per hour. Storage for golf bags, skis, surf equipment and dog kennels is also available for $35 for 24 hours and bikes can be stored for $40 for 24 hours. The bag storage service is located at the departure level, near the entrance to Concourse G. For more information, call (650) 877-0422.
Seattle–Tacoma International Airport (SEA): Find Smarte Carte baggage services at the baggage claim area of the Main Terminal. Prices range from $8–$22 per bag per day, depending on size. You can also rent car seats, strollers and wheelchairs here. For more information, call (206) 433-5333.
Pro Tip: Store Your Bags at the Airport Hotel
You can also check to see if a nearby airport hotel may store your bags while you are away if you spend a night there. Most hotels offer short-term luggage storage for guests while they are waiting for their rooms to be ready, so it never hurts to ask if they might extend that period for a few days. Alternatively, some hotels near airports offer packages that include a preflight stay, parking and storage. That option can be super-convenient for families that plan to park at the airport anyway.
When the airport offers baggage storage, it can be a lifesaver for families on the go. Have you stored luggage at the airport, a nearby hotel or elsewhere? Would you do it again?