Is Door-to-Door Shipping Better Than Checking Bags?

Hate the hassle? New services let you send your luggage direct to your destination – for a price

By Rick Wills

Published January 27, 2020

Read Time: 3 mins


Luggage is just a pain.

You have to haul it to the airport, then to your gate. If you decide to check it, you mouth a silent prayer that it will arrive at your destination, and that you won’t have to wait too long at baggage claim to retrieve it. Then you drag it out of the airport and throw it into a rental car, taxi or airport shuttle.

There’s a much better way, says Nick Coleman, the CEO of Luggage Free and two other companies that specialize in door-to-door luggage handling.

“There’s nothing better than walking through an airport and going through security without baggage,” said Coleman, founder of Shipsticks, which specializes in shipping golf clubs, and ShipGo.

In September, Coleman bought Luggage Free, a Florida-based luggage forwarding company. Similar companies include Luggage Forward, Luggage Concierge and Luggage Club.

Though not all travel experts see air travelers opting for such a service, Coleman sees almost unlimited potential for growth.

“A year from now, people will know much more about this,” he said, as his company embarks on a major marketing campaign.

Door to door

The selling point of luggage forwarding is door-to-door service, even to remote places, and better delivery guarantees and insurance than what airlines offer.

For example, someone going fishing in remote northern Ontario could have their baggage and equipment waiting at a lodge instead of spending time at an airport baggage claim, Coleman said.

The company works with hundreds of companies — from FedEx to Greyhound and various airlines – and offers both domestic and international shipping.

Luggage forwarding typically costs more than airline baggage fees, and prices vary considerably according to distance and how far ahead you ship. Checking two bags on a flight to Miami from Pittsburgh could cost from $50 to $80, depending on the carrier, and luggage forwarding generally costs $25 more than the airlines charge, according to CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg, who has used a variety of luggage shipping services.

If you’re a last-minute packer, these services might not be for you, Coleman said. If you can pack five days ahead, you could beat some airline baggage fee costs.

“The farther and faster you want to go, the more it will cost,” he said.

Best for aging boomers?

Travel agents say very few of their clients have used the service but recognize the potential with the business.

“Right now most people don’t even know it exists,” said Tamara Golden, owner of Golden Journeys Travel in Oceanside, Calif. “As Baby boomers age, it could become more enticing. Airports are getting larger and larger. That means longer walks with carry-on baggage.”

Golden offers service with Luggage Free.

“It’s especially good for people with large awkward items like skis, bicycles or golf clubs,” she said.

Golden said one of her clients with a shoulder injury didn’t want to haul her bags and used the service: “For her, it was very convenient.”

Other clients have used such services to get their luggage onto cruise ships, she said.

Joe Wigler, who founded Pittsburgh’s Shadyside Travel 45 years ago, isn’t as certain.

“People going to Florida on low-cost carriers won’t do this. People on longer trips might,” said Wigler, whose agency mostly handles all-inclusive trips to Europe, Hawaii and Mexico.

On average, airlines increased baggage fees 8.6 percent last year, according to Greenberg, the CBS News travel editor.

“I don’t check bags on domestic flights. I courier them. You can do it too with FedEx, UPS or any number of luggage forwarding services,” Greenberg wrote on his blog. “You save about 2.5 hours of your life on every round trip.”

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