Luggage Shipping Offers Alternative to Checking Bags at Airport

PHOTO: Companies like Luggage Forward will pick up your baggage and drop it off at your destination, offering an alternative to checking in bags at the airport during the busy holiday season.
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With Thanksgiving right around the corner, families looking to travel during the holidays will be facing not only steeper airfares but also a hike in baggage fees, with some airlines like Spirit charging as much as $100 per carry-on beginning Nov. 6.

With an overflowing suitcase in one hand and a screaming toddler in the other, even waiting in line to check-in a bag can add stress to parents traveling with children. But with luggage shipping services like LugLess and Luggage Forward that offer to pick up baggage at one's home and deliver it to a destination for as little as $50, people can kick back, relax and enjoy the "lighter" side of traveling.

"We want to change the way people travel," said Brian Altomare, co-founder of LugLess. "Our main considerations for our customers are the convenience and price and the fact that we're freeing up travelers to enjoy their whole travel experience."

Beginning Nov. 1 until the end of December, LugLess will match or beat the checked baggage price for the first 150 customers who call 1-888-826-1551 and mention the code "LugLess Holiday." This holiday promotion applies to customers flying within the United States, and prices are on a case-by-case basis, depending on the airlines and what is being sent.

For example, someone flying Delta can pay $25 for their first checked bag at the airport or pay the same fee for LugLess to pickup and deliver.

Altomare said this promotion will especially help travelers who typically have three or more checked bags.

"We're doing this next month because we want people to experience LugLess and we understand how much better it is to travel without baggage. We value what their time is worth," Altomare said.

Although LugLess doesn't have any current promotions specifically geared toward families, Altomare said a common fear expressed amongst his customers is taking children to a public place – like the airport – then going to baggage claim, waiting in line for a taxi and "dealing with that whole process."

Both American Airlines and Delta Airlines charge $25 and $35 for the first and second checked bag, respectively. Anything beyond that will cost travelers $150 at American and $125 at Delta. Luggage Free, another shipping service, charges as little as $2 per pound for delivery within five business days to one's destination – but that doesn't include the $50 pickup fee. For example, a 50-pound bag, which is the maximum weight allowed for a standard bag that's checked in at the airport, would cost $150 to be picked up and delivered to a location. Luggage Free has deals with companies like MasterCard but nothing as of late for regular customers.

While most hotels do not charge a holding fee for baggage that's shipped there prior to a guest's arrival, Altomare said some venues, especially those in Las Vegas, do impose a fee.

"Most hotels are cooperative, but Vegas loves to nickel and dime," Altomare said. "We work out deals with them on a case by case basis."

Both the Courtyard Times Square South in Manhattan and the Hilton Los Angeles Airport told ABCNews.com they do not charge a "holding fee" to guests with luggage shipped there prior to their arrival, but employees from both the Bellagio and Wynn Las Vegas confirmed that they do charge a "small handling fee," which covers unloading the baggage, entering it into their databases and scanning it through x-ray machines.

Other companies like Luggage Forward ship internationally to over 200 countries and even deliver suitcases onto cruise ships like the Holland America Line. Unlike LugLess, Luggage Forward works with various partner companies that offer discounts. For example, AAA members can take advantage of a special 20 percent off promotion. Luggage Forward is "all-inclusive and has no hidden surcharges," compared to Luggage Free, which charges an extra $50 delivery fee on top of the initial fee.

"From the beginning, we knew the right thing to do was to include everything that's required to provide the best service," said Luggage Forward co-founder Zeke Adkins. "The only thing that would make the cost go up is to get more insurance."

Adkins said one of the main advantages to shipping versus checking baggage is "the peace of mind" travelers get when they choose to sign up for their service.

"It provides you with a whole additional set of benefits," Adkins said. "We pick it up at your door, have it delivered, and call you to let you know your bag is waiting for you there. It adds an extra layer of convenience."

Both Adkins and Altomare agreed that convenience is one of the main factors that travelers consider when deciding the ultimate question – "to check, or not to check."

"For a family of four, the nightmare of traveling with kids and bags is sometimes too much too bear," Altomare said. "We may be $10 more or double the price than what airlines charge but we provide a service that customers actually benefit from. How do they benefit from lugging their own bags to and from the airport?"

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