Can You Really Save Money And Time Shipping Your Luggage Instead Of Checking It?

Luggage shipping LugLess pitched me on it being cheaper to ship a bag to your destination than taking it to the airport, checking it, and waiting for it at baggage claim. A family with lots of bags can certainly find schlepping bags onto a rental car bus one of the more stressful parts of travel, even cost aside.

Still, luggage shipping services haven’t ever really seemed quite ready to go mainstream even though they’ve been around for many years. A decade ago United Airlines launched an integration with BagsVIP. Around the same time LugLess was featured in Season 4, Episode 26 of Shark Tank (it didn’t do well). The next year it reportedly sold to Luggage Forward a firm that began consolidating companies in the space.

The thing is, baggage pickup and delivery is a precision business.

On the other hand checked baggage services are supposed to be a precision business too.

With luggage delivery, to be economical, you’ve got to plan far in advance and your bags travel slowly. LugLess ships bags one to five days prior to travel – and the farther in advance you ship, the less expensive it is.

They say you ‘lug less’ butt it’s cheapest if you deliver bags yourself to a FedEx Office or UPS Store. That starts at $22.99 per bag up to 50 pounds. Home pickup adds $6. Here’s their cost calculator.

  • $29 is still less than paying a checked bag fee (which you won’t have if you’re a frequent flyer elite, have an airline’s co-brand credit card, or fly first class or Southwest).

  • But that requires (1) that you ship your luggage five days before your trip and (2) that the hotel doesn’t charge you for storage and delivery.

FedEx and UPS generally do a good job, but I’ve had packages with them go missing or get misdelivered (the same is true for checked bags). The hotel needs to handle the handoff well.

I still see this as a niche play – pitching it as a money saver doesn’t make sense to me, although with a lot of checked bags for a family and if you’re willing to pack far in advance and take the bags yourself to ship them (hardly lugging less) you can save.

It’s more about the convenience of not waiting at baggage claim or dealing with your bags at the airport. That makes it a premium service, and a niche use case – where the time at baggage claim is what’s binding, or where you want to get a rental car at a Rental Car Center or offsite location rather than use a car service where the driver meets you inside the terminal and helps you with your bags.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. We’re from the Midwest and are now in Miami. We have a lot of stuff from a triathlon and visits to relatives in Maryland and New York. Next we’re going overseas. All of the excess is going back by UPS to our son who lives near our home. To our minds it’s a matter of how much you want to lug around and for what purpose. No special service needed, just slow ground shipping so it’s there when we get back. (I brought a roll of tape and will get boxes at the UPS store. That keeps everything simple.)

  2. I would submit this company could take their offering (and desirability) to the next level by allowing you to choose a “personal kit) that is delivered with your luggage. Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, deodorant, razors, hair spray, etc etc etc.

    That would be a meaningful service and create time efficiency that would help offset the inconvenience of having to pack early and drive to the drop-off etc. also, people who have “one” of these types of things and thus can’t pack them and send them 5 days in advance because they need them at home, etc.

  3. First day of a recent trip to Japan we used the Black Cat service to ship one bag to a hotel two days in advance. At the same time we shipped another bag to the company storage at Narita. Only needed to carry one bag on the train instead of three. 1st bag was waiting at my hotel two days later. Five days later we picked up the third bag at Narita (didn’t need its contents for the Japan portion of our trip). The Black Cat service was flawless. Definitely need help from our first hotel filling out the paperwork in Japanese. The cost was reasonable and not having so much stuff for the train and taxis was welcome. I used UPS in the US once to ship a bag and it was a nightmare. Reliable baggage shipping = good. Unreliable = bad.

  4. Everyone in Japan uses the luggage shipping service. You never see Japanese travelers carrying luggage on trains. Its very efficient.

  5. I recently noticed AA now offers a luggage delivery service – $40 for 1-2 bags, $50 for 3-4 bags. You need to sign up at least 2 hours before departure and they promise delivery 4-6 hours after landing. Good at all domestic destinations up to 40 miles from the airport, plus a few in Canada and the Caribbean, as well as Dublin. (You can go up to 100 miles from the airport for an extra charge.) Since I and SO get free bags, this would prove handy in a few troublesome destinations, like Las Vegas where baggage is notoriously slow. (And we check bags, as hauling them through connections with back trouble is just asking for it.) We can drop our bags at check-in, take a small carry-on, sit near the front or first with status, walk off the plane for a late afternoon/early evening arrival, catch a quick cab to hotel, freshen up, and hit a dinner reservation and/or show without sweating baggage arrival – our bags are waiting for us at the hotel after an extra evening out in Vegas. Would work in New York as well. Well worth $40.

  6. This is a service that I would be all over every trip if it was proven reliable. We can check our bags for free on the airplane, but I’d love to not have to deal with them at all until we get to our first hotel. I’ve always been stopped by the thought that all my ‘carefully-chosen ensembles’ might not be waiting for me at my destination. I can’t just go buy new clothes at WalMart like my husband, I’m too hard to fit and too picky. We did ship a box home from Florida after Christmas, it was nice to not have to deal with a bag at the airport … and of course I didn’t care when the thing got to my house. But I remember that it was very expensive, maybe $70 or so. .

  7. Most people pack too much crap going on vacation. I had a girlfriend who brought her own pillow on a trip – WTH?? (okay, I can sleep on my wadded up towel) … like a sweatshirt, comfy yes but BULKY. I carry a thin Merino sweater that is about 1/8th the bulk and just as warm and classier looking – if you are going to a big city anywhere in the world, THEY HAVE STORES. Bring some underwear in case you are stuck in an airport but that’s it.

    Now, on business trips, it is trickier as you need more than 1 suit if you are meeting the same people but learn to mix and match … you can also mail stuff to a UPS Store, they will hold things for you – even if you need an account there, it’s only about $20-$30 to rent a box # for a month. I do not mail things to a hotel. They can barely find an ice bucket, I’m not trusting them with my clothes or collateral.

  8. I am generally all carry-on all the time so this service is almost useless to me. Not to mention that many of us have credit cards or status that provide free checked bags on the rare occasion when I find that necessary. And I see no reason to trust a delivery service and the hotel to get it right any more than the airline.

    The exception is the real useful niche for sporting equipment like skis, bikes and golf clubs. More than once I have checked ski equipment only to find it gets delivered a day or two late. So I could see paying $30 per ski bag particularly as it is a PITA to lug them onto a shuttle bus, then to the check bags counter (good luck finding redcaps post-covid) then to a shuttle bus on the other end, etc.

  9. Fedex $30 per ski pair to ship to Aspen + $7 service charge to pickup skis. Not a bad deal, in fact a good deal if you don’t otherwise have free checked bags.

  10. SBB (Swiss Rail System) offers a service if you’re flying to ZRH where you check your bags at your departure airport with a special tag and they will pick them up at ZRH and deliver to them to most destinations in Switzerland. Depending on the destination they might deliver it to your hotel or to the train station. Either way, much easier than dragging bags on the train, especially if you have something like skis, which I usually do. With an early arrival you get your bags that day, otherwise the next morning. On departure, you check you bags at the train station the day before your flight and pick them up at ZRH the next morning.

  11. Married to a Japanese woman who’s family home is a good 2 hours away from Narita or Haneda. We too use the baggage service some people have mentioned above. Flawless, indeed.

    It’s not that the business idea doesn’t work. It. very much could in America. The problem Is that Americans don’t care about providing good service or take pride in holding these types of jobs. Japanese people do.

  12. In Thailand often it works well to send things by the Post Office.. They usually have boxes and a packing service all for a very reasonable cost. If you are flying nickel and dime ya ThaiAirAsia this is a good alternative.

  13. I am new to this idea and could use a good recommendation. We are traveling to a small town in Norfolk (UK) from Dallas and are bringing large heavy suitcases. While our bags fly free because of our flying class, having them delivered to their home directly would be a blessing! (they’ll drive to Heathrow to get us but have a small car). Does anyone have suggestions of companies that are reliable and go overseas to England from Dallas??

  14. I am new to this idea and could use a good recommendation. We are traveling to a small town in Norfolk (UK) from Dallas and are bringing large heavy suitcases. While our bags fly free because of our flying class, having them delivered to their home directly would be a blessing! (they’ll drive to Heathrow to get us but have a small car). Does anyone have suggestions of companies that are reliable and go overseas to England from Dallas??

  15. As part of a complicated vacation we are on Queen Mary 2 from Southampton to New York. On this ship you dress up for dinner, but we do not want to carry the “ship clothes” suitcase around for the weeks before the crossing. So we plan to have this one suitcase shipped from our house to the Southampton Ocean Terminal, tagged for the ship, the voyage number, and the stateroom number. It probably will cost a bit but it will be worth it.

  16. How well does this work shipping bags back to the States from Asia or EU? Not having to worry that your bags are too heavy because of stuff you bought overseas would be nice.

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