Southwest Passenger Decided To Check A Pool Noodle As Baggage, Because Bags Fly Free

All travel is leisure travel and everyone is going to either Florida or Cancun. That means more checked bags than an average flight since almost no one is doing day trips or packing everything in a road warrior’s rollaboard. At Southwest Airlines bags fly free. And that creates a weird incentive. How many passengers are letting that second free bag benefit go to waste?

You could become a courier and ship packages. Or you could toss in supplies for the pool party like Sydney Fowls did. She decided to check a pool noodle on her recent Southwest Airlines flight from Columbus, Ohio to Tampa.


My pool noodle traveled from Ohio —-> Florida

♬ Vacation – Dirty Heads

The passenger explained they decided to check the pool noodle because pool noodles are expensive – why buy one in Florida when she could bring one on Southwest, since Southwest doesn’t charge for bags? And besides, friends bet her $20 she wouldn’t.

For an official ruling on the matter, we turn to the Southwest Airlines twitter team who declares there is no actual rule against checking a pool noodle without placing it in luggage or a box first.

The pool noodle even made it back to Columbus baggage claim after the trip just fine. In fact, Southwest Airlines had gotten wind of the hijinks at this point and celebrated with pool noodle salute on the ramp and a mess of pool noodles at baggage claim. The carrier even presented her with a Southwest Airlines pool noodle.


My pool noodle made it back home to Ohio! Thank you Southwest Airlines for everything you did for me! @flysouthwest @junebug2433 ##viral

♬ SexyBack (feat. Timbaland) – Justin Timberlake

Four years ago an Australian man became internet famous for checking a single can of beer on a Qantas flight. Days later an American Airlines Executive Platinum member decided not to let his free checked bag benefit go to waste and checked a bottle of deoderant. American lost his ‘bag’.

You’d think airlines would insist you place loose items in some sort of luggage, but some people seem to get away with freestanding items. Watch out when you do use a bag for your luggage, though, because a reader was arrested in Paris after trying to use an Ikea bag as luggage.

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, 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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  1. I checked a small body board on Alaskan flight to Hawaii without any packaging. I had a free checked bag because of Alaska credit card, so why not?

  2. Better make sure she doesn’t have anything to drink in the terminal…..she might be an insurrectionist.

  3. @chris, You’re an idiot.

    Go back under your rock and let the rest of us enjoy life without politics for a couple of years.

  4. I would rather have a passenger check a pool noodle than bring it into the cabin. Honestly, airlines should let you check your one carry-one for free to reduce items in the cabin (and items going through TSA security).

  5. Whenever I fly internationally, I always feel like I’m missing out by not monetizing my free baggage allowance. If you went to Fedex and wanted to ship 44 lbs. to Paris to be delivered in 4 days, you’re looking at $800. So an allowance of 2 bags would be two 44 lb. packages totaling $1600 to ship by Fedex, but I could take it for free.

    Unfortunately, I haven’t figured out how to monetize it,

  6. @Ron I have two 40lb packages sitting in La Paz BO awaiting pick up and delivery to CLT.

  7. Ive used my free DL Diamond luggage allowance to check snow tires from TPA to YYZ more than once to save $100/tire. Best was kid in checkin line at 0445 saying there goes the Michelin man (and they were Michelins)

  8. We just returned from a trip to Hawaii. We were told the resort hadn’t put out any chairs on the beach due to COVID. We bought cheap folding ones from Target. Boxed them and checked them. Turns out the hotel put chairs out right before our arrival. Brought our box back to the mainland and returned them. Flew first on AA outbound and Southwest inbound so free both ways. Everyone wanted to know what was in the box!

  9. @Ron: Check out AirMule dot com in order to get some value back from your checked bag allowance. Back in the day this is how many air courier services (DHL, TNT) worked — they would recruit travelers, pay their airfare, and use their two checked bags (plus excess luggage, if they had more stuff to transport) to fly documents around the world. Sometimes you manifest would have 20 or 30 bags on it. I flew a number of trips this way, including LHR -> JFK on the Concorde.

  10. I once had to check a “naked” umbrella since they wouldn’t allow me to carry it through Manchester airport. Made it home okay.

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