Passenger successfully checks just one shoe, but can you check even smaller items?

Oct 20, 2019

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In the category of celebrating eccentricity, passenger James Gagnon decided to check just one shoe as luggage on a recent flight. With one socked foot and one still shoed, he documented what happened next — and how people reacted — on Instagram.

As you can see from the video, everyone from the check-in agent to a tarmac-side baggage handler smiled at the escapade and even snapped photos with their smartphones. Hey, TPG salutes anyone that can bring a bit of levity to those tough airport jobs. Right on, James!

Image courtesy of James Gagnon via Instagram
Image courtesy of James Gagnon via Instagram

But, this isn’t the first time a small item has made the trip as checked luggage and successfully made its way to the baggage carousel at its final destination. It happens more frequently than you’d imagine.

This video of a broken-off baggage grip riding a luggage carousel is priceless. While obviously not intentional and a nightmare for any traveler, the image of the lonely little handle made us wonder: What’s the smallest thing you can check with an airline? Clearly, James’ half-pound shoe successfully made the trip but what else is possible?

Anyone who’s been forced to quickly shuffle shoes and jackets from a checked bag into a carry-on knows how strict airlines can be with their oversized baggage fees, but many may be unfamiliar with what happens on the other side of the spectrum. Can luggage ever be too small to check?

The answer is apparently not. We checked with American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest and United and found that not a single one lists a minimum size or weight for luggage under their checked baggage policies. They instead seem far more concerned with what happens when bags get too large, entirely ignoring the question of what happens when they’re tiny.

It’s not just U.S. carriers either. An Australian man successfully checked a single can of beer from Melbourne to Perth two years ago.

Policies like these — or the lack thereof, really — create questions about how small an airline would let passengers go. Could you check a pen? What about the nail clippers you couldn’t get through security? Most importantly, who would be willing to pay a baggage fee and find out?

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