Check My Carry-On?!?
Why would you ever want to check your carry-on? Well, you wouldn’t, but sometimes you must. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. Here are some ways it could happen to you.
1..You exceeded the weight limit. Some domestic airlines, such as Hawaiian Airlines, US Airways, Frontier Airlines Sun Country Airlines and Virgin Atlantic have weight restrictions for carry-on bags. Most International airlines have weight restrictions. So, while you were delighted to fit that last item in your carry-on, you forgot to weigh it before you left the house and now you must check your carry-on at the gate.
2..You’re on a very small airplane. Sometimes the type of airplane you’re booked on changes. So, while you may have had no problem originally, when the change to the smaller airplane had to be made, it became necessary to start asking people to check their carry-ons at the gate. Other times you may end up connecting to a puddle-jumper (a very small airplane usually serving smaller airports) and not know it ahead of time.
3..You are carrying a prohibited item. You can avoid this problem if you know exactly what items the TSA prohibits – there are rules for carry-on and checked baggage. But, let’s say that you’re taking a jar of your special homemade jam to your Aunt Jane. If it turns out that the jar weighs more than 3.4 ounces, you have two choices. You can either check your carry-on bag, or leave the jam with the TSA agent.
The Solution: Put a Carry-On in Your Carry-On
The best way to survive regardless of where your carry-on bag ends up, is to pack a carry-on in your carry-on. Just think about what would happen if you checked your carry-on and then it got lost, or misplaced or temporarily delayed.
There are some things you just don’t want to do without, and other things that you want to keep out of other people’s sticky fingers. For example:
- Your passport, other travel documents, credit cards, spare cash, etc.
- Your medication
- Your laptop
- Anything that’s too fragile to entrust to the baggage handlers
All you need for your carry-on in your carry-on is a collapsible carry-all. It could be anything from a large grocery bag to an item you purchase specifically for this purpose. Just roll the item up tightly and stash in an unused corner of your carry-on.
If there’s ever a time when you must check your carry-on bag, take the critical items you want to keep with you out of the carry-on and put them in the carry-all to take on the plane with you.
If you’re already carrying one item, make sure the carry-all will hold that item, too. So, if you have a purse or briefcase, make sure it will fit into the carry-all along with your critical supplies. Then, you’ve still got just one thing you’re taking with you and that’s usually not a problem, assuming it would fit under the seat in front of you, for example.
If you can’t fit everything into the carry-all, consider stowing away a spare bungee cord. I’ve used a bungee cord to strap together two items and used the cord as a handle to carry the item in one hand. It’s difficult for the gate keepers to argue with something that evidently will fit under the seat, and sometimes since you’ve got both items in one hand, they may not even notice.
Note: Think how handy it would be to have your critical items neatly stowed in packing cubes. Then, it would be very quick and easy to make the transfer to your carry-all before turning over your carry-on to be checked!