For those of us who travel quite a lot and like to be prepared by carrying everything that we may need on our trip, the frequent pain of excess luggage in airports always manages to crop its ugly head. And as airlines are getting progressively more frugal with what it is that they allow you to travel with, the cutting down of things becomes harder and harder. Sure you can buy everything you need when you get there, but then you are going to have to wind up throwing it all away and then buying new stuff when you get to the next destination. The added cost of doing this can be painful. So here are a few tips and tricks from someone who not only loathes airports, but also loves to get through them cheekily carrying more than she should.
Where They Check Luggage Weights
There are two places they check luggage, at the front desk when you are claiming your ticket and checking your bags on, and at the gate before you embark on the plane. Sometimes in foreign countries I have seen luggage weights be checked before you enter the security area. So it is best to hide your weight best as you can before you walk through the airport door and leave it there until you get to the security checkpoint. Once through security, chuck the stuff back in your bag for a while for a bit of comfort and then make sure you resume original position of hidden goods when you get to the gate if they look like they are checking peoples luggage weights.
Be Nice To The People Working Behind Check In
I was told once that you catch more bees with honey. And is indeed true for excess luggage at airports. One time I got super mad because I was five kilos over and willing to pay for it but they told me I could not take another bag or pay the excess. I was tired, shitty and generally grumpy. It certainly didn’t get me anywhere except for throwing all of my clothes in the rubbish bin. The woman behind the counter was a bitch and I certainly didn’t help things. So where possible, find a counter with a person of the opposite sex, be happy, jovial and polite and flirt. Sometimes they will let you off with being a couple of kilos over. If this doesn’t work, then it is time to hide some stuff. It is quite difficult to hide luggage in your check in as that goes on a scale and that is as it is. But on your body and in your carry on is where you will get away with your weight. As I will explain in this glorious section of carry on luggage.
Carry On Luggage
Gone are the days of 10kg of carry-on luggage. Majority of the airlines now have opted to move this down to 7 kg. So what that pretty much means is put a small notebook computer and a charger for it in a backpack and you are only a couple of kilograms off your weight limit. So here is my advice for excess in carry-on luggage.
Items you are wearing do not count as a part of your weight limit
The amount of people I have seen going through airports looking like the abominable snowman dressed in all of their clothes is hilarious. Massive puffer jackets going out of tropical countries is indeed laughable but for the most part, your clothes won’t weigh more than a couple of hundred grams each item unless you are taking a massively heavy item of clothing. So in this case I suggest wearing the heaviest shoes that you own (for me that is often hiking boots or snow boots) and wearing clothing that is comfortable and loose but has a stack of pockets. This will help with phase 2.
Items in your pockets are also not attributed to your weight limit
Anything that is heavy and small goes in the pockets. I am talking about phones, point and shoot cameras, money (especially coins), and other electronic gadgets that might be fairly weighty. Your friends here in this endeavour are the money belt around the weight and around the neck. While these are supposed to be ‘concealed’ while travelling for safety, I usually wear something stupidly baggy and put my money belt stacked with my passport, all coins, phone and ipod in there if I need to get luggage down. I carried my water purifier in my pocket as that weighs quite a bit too (oddly it is shaped like a dildo and I get quite strange looks from people with regards to what this is… quite humorous).
Keep books and water in your hands as books can often be weighty and nobody thinks twice about telling you to put a book in your bag to weigh it as it is seen as something you are using to pass the time. If worse comes to worse, hide heavy books in your jacket pockets or in your pants.
One time when I was travelling in Warsaw, Poland with Ryan air I was concerned about my carry on weight limit. So after I got through security, I put my laptop computer down the back of my pants underneath my giant winter puffer jacket (which didn’t look so odd given that it was -16 degrees Celsius at the time) and got away with it. Automatic 2-3kg loss out of my luggage. They will never check your weight at security screening, only usually at the front counter and before you get on the plane at the gate.
Look Like You Aren’t Carrying Much
Most people get these exact to size carry on suitcases and jam them full of stuff. Nothing says ‘check me I am heavy’ like a jam packed carry on suitcase. I on the other hand prefer to travel with a smaller 40L backpack. I fill it up with a stack of heavy items that are small and dense and then compress the bag down so it looks like I am only carrying half of the bags capacity. This looks to people like you wouldn’t really be carrying excess because you didn’t bother to fill the bag up. You still have more space right?
Sometimes I have gone through with around 15kg in my carry on backpack and as I am strong and can pick the bag up and make it look effortless nobody asks questions. Which leads me to the next aspect. When you pick up your bag, make a conscious note to not look like you are struggling with it. If you look like it is heavy when you are picking it up then it will be seen to be heavy to others.
In some countries this is easier to get away with than others. In places like Indonesia where the women are not very strong and don’t do very much exercise in many parts, the men will look at you carrying a backpack and assume that because you are a woman you aren’t very strong and as such the bag couldn’t be more than 7kg. I was literally the only person in this cue that wasn’t stopped and I was sure it was because I was a woman with a backpack and not with a wheely suitcase.
Prepare What You May Need To Hide, Part With Or Pay If You Get Caught
Last but not least. If you run the risk of getting caught, make sure you are either willing to pay for or part with what you have packed in your carry on if you are over. That means like I said before, cameras, passports, wallets and phones in pockets. I usually carry my less than 100mL foundation in a glass bottle in carry on as it is heavy and if I have to part with it so be it. Books usually go in the carry on, if I have to leave them for someone else then again so be it. And I usually pack some crap clothes I would be happy to part with in there too. But, if you aren’t willing to part with things, make sure you have another jacket with deep pockets and get stuffing your things in there.
Happy travelling! And may the odds forever be in your favour at airport check in and security!