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7 Times It's Better to Check Your Luggage

You’ve surely read the words of wise travelers advising you that it is always better to carry on your luggage rather than check it. Often times, this is true—but sometimes, that’s simply not the case.

Paying the extra fees to check your baggage can seem like a pain, but on certain occasions, it’s in your best interest to do so. Here are 7 instances where checking your bag is the way to go.

When It’s Uncomfortably Heavy/Big/Awkward
First off, remember that your carry on luggage has to meet your airline’s requirements, which typically involve size and weight constraints. Even if your carry on does meet the standards, it might still be awkward to lug around in a busy airport. Consider the amount of time you’ll spend struggling with your suitcase – in line at a food place, maneuvering a bathroom stall, squeezing down the airplane aisle – and ask yourself whether the pain is really worth it.

When It Just Won’t Fit
On the one hand, we all shake our heads when we see someone trying to cram something that is surely too big to be a carry on into an overhead bin. On the other hand, many of us have been guilty of doing this exact same thing – somehow, when it’s your own bag, it feels different. Save yourself, your fellow passengers, and the flight crew the hassle of playing suitcase Tetris and don’t be an overhead bin hog. Just check it.

When You Have To
Your airline probably has policies about what can and cannot be carried onboard. Whether you’re carrying certain sports gear or are bringing back a souvenir bottle of wine (ah, the days before the liquid ban), sometimes you have no choice but the check your bag. Know the policies and abide by them to save a headache at security.

When It’s a Full Flight
If you know you’ll be flying at a busy time of year (like the holidays) or on a teeny, tiny flight, pay the extra to check your bag. (See: When It Just Won’t Fit)

When You’ll Be There Awhile
If you’re way early or have long layovers planned in your itinerary, you’ll want to consider checking your bag so that you won’t have to deal with it. The less you have to tote around, lift up, take down, and keep an eye on, the better. Check it and forget it until you arrive at your final destination.

When You’re Hurting
If you’re dealing with an injury or illness that makes it hard to walk or that requires the use of your hands (crutches or a cane, for instance), do yourself a favor and check your bags. You’ve got enough on your hands – why add another factor to the mix?

When You’ve Got a Tight Connection
It might seem counter-intuitive to check your bag when you’ve got connections, especially tight ones. After all, you’ve probably heard about bags going missing after they don’t quite make a quick connection. That does happen – but more often than not, the luggage handlers move suitcases efficiently, getting your bag where it needs to be on time. This means freeing up your hands so you can dash over to your gate without tripping over your wheeled suitcase.

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