So You Have a Carry-On Sized Bag: Check or Carry On?
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Let’s say you’re flying with luggage that will fit in the overhead bin. There’s always the option to check it instead of carrying it on, but there are concerns with doing either.
Travelers tend to have a tried and true philosophy on which they prefer, and it’s normally based on their experience: having luggage damaged or stolen when it’s checked, the ease at which they can travel when they have a small suitcase to drag, etc.
We decided to turn to the trusted TPG Lounge of almost 37,000 members to ask what they would do in this scenario. Here’s what they said:
Some TPG Lounge members are adamant about carrying on their luggage as long as it’ll fit in the overhead. It tends to be quicker than waiting for it at baggage claim, and it can ease travelers’ minds that their luggage won’t get lost, stolen or damaged. Plus, it ensures that your luggage will stick with you through it all — including connections. The downside is that you’ll have to keep it with you at all times and find space for it in the overhead.
“Never ever check. Status makes this easier as I’m first to board.” – Gloria L.
“I never check a bag. One, it can cause problems if I happen to catch an earlier first or if I’m delayed and change routes. Also I prefer to slide my laptop bag on it and wheel it through the airport than carry the laptop bag. Plus no waiting at baggage claim.” – Jay M.
“I travel often but the only time I check a bag is when I go home to visit my family bc I usually bring my dog with me and he already counts towards my “bag” to bring in. Plus it allows me to bring bottles of wine or tequila from Mexico. Other than that, carry on all the time!” – Marisol B.
Travel can often be stressful, so it can be a luxury to say goodbye to your carry-on sized bag before going through security. The reason why people typically don’t choose this option is to avoid checked luggage fees, luggage damage or stolen items.
“We usually check our luggage. Rarely carry on. I don’t like wrestling with my suitcase(s) while navigating trams and lounges. I have a nice bag I carry that has room for a change of clothes and my basic toiletries and meds so it’s never been an issue.” – Kristi C.
“Always check. Ain’t nobody got time to fight for overhead space.” – Kevin W.
“I fly a lot of international so there is a lot of scrutiny of carry on bags. Because of how long it takes to usually clear immigration and customs my bags are usually there waiting right after that, so it doesn’t impact time at all and save a lot of hassle.” – Ivan B.
“I don’t typically travel with more than my carry on, even when going internationally for several weeks, and I always check it. Nothing drives me more bonkers than the ridiculous amount of time it takes to board and deplane due to carry on luggage, so I make sure I’m not part of that problem.” – Michael S.
Even though having one of those things happen to your belongings is never fun, there are ways to combat them.
There are several cards that will waive your baggage fees with airlines. And many cards will cover lost luggage or even incidental costs for baggage delays. Plus, most independent travel insurance covers theft, so long as there is a police report.
These travelers are open to checking or carrying on their bags. It all depends on the flight leg, whether the flight is short or long, who they’re traveling with, or whether they’re in a rush or not.
“When I travel to Europe, I carry on on the way over and check my bag on the way back. I put a backpack in my roller carryon and use it as a carry on on the way back. Wine must be checked, after all!” – Traci S.
“Without kids: carry on. With kids: check. (Too much of a pain dragging luggage and kids.)” – Eu T.
“I do both? Lol. I bring a carry on size and bring it with me going to my destination. But on the way back, the bag is always heavier due to all the stuff i buy, so i check it in and only keep my absolutes on my person (e.g. anything i would be really salty to lose).” – Lisa L.
“I keep it with me if I’m heading out — but often check it when I’m coming home. I travel for work a lot, so I’m usually in a hurry when I get to a destination, not so much when I’m home. (My carry-on is designed to fit under the seat, which helps a lot.)” – Kelly H.
“I usually carry on, however if they’re checking bags at the gate for free due to limited overhead space I always do so. Luckily haven’t ever had a problem, as i don’t mind waiting at the carousel afterwards and oftentimes already have a checked bag anyways to wait for.” – Sherilyn G.
“I prefer hands free for getting food at the airport and not having to cram the suitcase in the bathroom stall with me but since I’ve been taking shorter trips lately where a carry on is all I need, I have not been checking it.” – Beck B.
Featured image by DuKai photographer / Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.