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Shipping Your Luggage
  A New Trend Is Catching On    
Updated August 21,2013

Increases in checked baggage fees have caused many people to explore the option of shipping their luggage ahead. Many airlines charge for a single checked piece of luggage, and weight restrictions can result in additional charges when a bag exceeds the stated limit. Airlines collected nearly $3 billion in checked baggage fees in 2009 while, according to a Department of Transportation report, still mishandling more than 2.1 million bags.

In true free-market fashion, private businesses have sprung up to address the needs of today's travelers. Luggage shipping services offer to pick your checked luggage up at your home and deliver your bags, via freight companies, to your destination. At the end of your vacation or business trip, your luggage is picked up at your location and returned to your home. The idea sounds plausible, but how does it work in real practice?

We have tested two different services just to see for ourselves how the system works. Our most recent test was with Luggage Free ( We scheduled via email to have our two pieces of luggage picked up at our hotel in Athens and shipped back to our home in Texas. We had originally inquired about having the luggage shipped from our home to Istanbul, but Luggage Free informed us that due to Turkish Customs delays it would not be advisable. Therefore, we settled on a one-way shipping test. We received a confirmation email from Luggage Free indicating that the bags would be picked up from our hotel concierge on the Monday morning after our departure (we flew out of Athens on a Sunday). When we checked out of King George Hotel in Athens, we left our luggage with the Concierge. They graciously offered to email us as soon as the bags were retrieved by the carrier. We did, in fact, receive an email from King George on Monday morning stating that our luggage had been picked up as promised. Within an hour, we received an update email from Luggage Free stating the same. At around noon on Thursday, only four days after we retruned home, the Fedex truck pulled up in front of our house with our two pieces of luggage, none the worse for wear!

Our next test was with Luggage Forward ( during a cruise in China and South Korea. Our Silversea Silver Shadow ship was scheduled to disembark in Incheon, South Korea, so we scheduled to have Luggage Forward pick up our luggage for shipment back to the USA. All arrangements were made within 10 days of our cruise and all communications via email. Luggage Forward did an excellent job of communicating with us and even coordinated with the ship's Guest Services manager so that we could leave our bags with Guest Services prior to disembarkation. Therefore, we were not required to hang around and wait for a courier to arrive at the port to pick up the bags. Everything went smoothly and our luggage arrived at our front door via DHL within 4 days of our return to the USA.

Based on these two experiences, both companies delivered on their promise of a hassle-free way to have our luggage handled when traveling internationally. Of course, you can use either of these services for domestic travel as well.

The benefits of shipping luggage:

  • No weight restrictions. Many airlines limit checked luggage to 50 pounds per bag and impose stiff fines when a bag exceeds the weight limit. Also, different airlines have different restrictions. When traveling on multiple airlines internationally, trying to figure out the weight limits is a real hassle.
  • No baggage claim. You literally breeze through the airport by not having to wait an extra 30 minutes to 1 hour for your bags to be offloaded by the airline. Going through Customs is easier too, especially when you have to make a connecting flight. No need to claim and re-check your bags.
  • Keep Your Bags Until Disembarkation. Most cruise lines require that you place your checked bags outside your stateroom the night before disembarkation. With a luggage delivery service, you can keep your bags in your stateroom overnight until you walk off the ship. This allows you to pack all of your liquids and other "last night" clothing in your luggage the morning of disembarkation.
  • Reliability. Freight companies are simply more reliable at delivering luggage than airlines. Especially if you have a flight plan that requires connections on multiple airlines, the odds of bags getting lost or delayed is increased.
  • Convenience. One less thing to worry about. When you board your ship, your luggage should be waiting for you when you arrive.

LuggageRates, reliability and services offered by different luggage forwarding solutions can vary greatly and consumers should be careful to select the right company for their next trip. Asking the following questions will ensure that you gather enough information to make the right choice for hassle free travel.

Is the pricing all-inclusive? Ask whether additional fees will be added to the base shipping rate that you are quoted. Often times a pickup fee, particularly for same-day pickups, or fuel surcharge is applied after the fact. Major package shippers always have these additional fees and some luggage shipping companies charge upwards of $50 for pickup. Unless you understand the complete cost up front, it is impossible to accurately compare the alternatives.

Do you offer an on-time guarantee? If a company does not provide at least a full money back guarantee for late arriving shipments, you should look elsewhere. Reliable companies will not only offer a full money back guarantee, but may also cover any additional expenses that you might incur due to any late-arriving bags. Of course, you should ask to see this in writing before booking.

Is additional packaging required? Traditional shipping companies require luggage to be sent in a box if you would like insurance coverage. Even some specialty luggage shippers require wrapping luggage in large plastic bags. The most convenient option is to use a company whose system allows clients to send luggage, insured up to $10,000 per bag, without any additional packaging.

Do you handle all customs documentation and clearance for international shipment? Sending your personal items to a foreign country can be an incredibly complicated undertaking and you will want to choose a company who has the experience to navigate the process on your behalf. If the country-specific customs regulations are not understood, lengthy delays and costly duties and taxes can result. Using a company that has proven specialization in forwarding luggage internationally can save you time, money and aggravation.

How do I know that you provide a reliable luggage delivery service? In addition to the guarantees mentioned above, look beyond marketing material or selected client testimonials for objective, independent verification of the company’s credibility. How long a company has been in business, partnerships with leading travel providers and positive press coverage are all good indicators of a reputable company.

About Luggage Forward
For travelers seeking the utmost in convenience, reliability and predictability, Luggage Forward provides guaranteed delivery of baggage from doorstep to destination starting around $50 per bag. Luggage Forward leverages a worldwide network of shipping partners, innovative technology and honest, unparalleled customer care to give seasoned travelers the peace of mind they deserve. The smart alternative to checking and carrying bags, Luggage Forward is transforming today's travel experience.

Luggage Forward has set the standard in door-to-door delivery of luggage and sports equipment for travelers since 1999. The company is the exclusive luggage delivery provider for many of the world's leading travel brands including American Express Vacations, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Holland America Line, Merrill Lynch, Starwood Hotels & Resorts and US Airways. For more information, visit or call 866-416-7447.

About Luggage Free
Luggage Free offers travelers the option to send luggage ahead to nearly any destination, allowing them to avoid the inconvenience of carrying, checking and claiming bags even going through customs. The Luggage Free service begins at the customer's door, where luggage and other items to be shipped are retrieved at a specific time of the traveler's choosing. The shipment is then wrapped in custom made plastic protective packaging and routed to its final destination where it is waiting for the traveler upon arrival. Realizing the flaw of a 'one size fits all' infrastructure, Luggage Free utilizes a worldwide network of thousands of agents and 14 different air carriers, thereby allowing for the greatest reliability, customization and cost effectiveness for each individual shipment. 153 West 27th Street, Suite 903 New York, New York 10001 Phone: 212.453.1579 Reservations: 800.361.6871. Website

Reviewed by Chris Dikmen
Managing Editor of
AVOID this service. They lie to your face, suggest a price and then charge you twice more. Try anything else but them, because my experience with them is really not something you'd like to share!
Monday, January 20, 2014 4:08 PM  
We've just had the WORST experience with Luggage Free. We will never use them again or recommend them.
Friday, November 15, 2013 3:59 PM  
Thanks for the reviews, VERY helpful!
Monday, September 24, 2012 6:06 PM  
@MIKE As these fees can change from time to time, I thought it best to allow that information to be gleaned from the providers' websites. I believe both Luggage Free and Luggage Forward have rates on their respective sites.
Tuesday, June 07, 2011 5:42 PM  
Good review but how much did YOUR luggage transfers cost?
Tuesday, June 07, 2011 3:26 PM  
I love the sound of this service for seniors. My mother has a terrible time with luggage now - some of the airlines are wonderful and take her directly to the people who are meeting her. Other airlines just leave her in her wheelchair at the gate - fretting about her luggage and being picked up and ...
Wednesday, May 25, 2011 12:38 PM  
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