Is Your Luggage Overweight?

Weight is the oft-forgotten criteria for luggage selection. Alongside more obvious decision criteria such as price, style, durability and size, weight is also an important factor in your luggage-purchasing decision. Why you ask? For a number of reasons of course:

Portability – Most luggage (both carry on and checked) now come equipped with wheels (2 or 4) that increase luggage portability. But there are still a number of circumstances when you’ll have to roll up your sleeves and pick up your luggage: packing it into the car, carrying it up/down steps and placing it in the overhead compartment once you’re onboard. Lighter luggage is more portable and easier to work with and you’ll appreciate every pound you avoid lifting the more often you travel.

Health – It may not be obvious, but heavy luggage can be detrimental to your health. It’s no secret that back injuries often occur near the end of one’s range of motion when lifting a heavy item (like luggage). And placing your luggage into the overhead compartment can be a tricky proposition when you’re trying to navigate the limited space available to you on an airplane. The Consumer Product Safety Commission notes that nearly 54,000 injuries related to luggage occurred in 2012 alone.

Excess Baggage Fees – If personal convenience and your health aren’t enough to convince you about the importance of luggage weight, maybe dollars and cents will. It’s no secret that today’s airlines are looking for additional revenue however they can get it. And they’ve found an incredible source of income in excess baggage fees (especially overweight luggage fees). Depending on weight and flight distance, excess baggage fees can range from $100 to $450 for each piece of overweight luggage. The lighter your luggage, the more weight you can side aside for your belongings and the less likely you are to pay overweight baggage fees.

  • Delta – To avoid extra charges for oversize or overweight baggage, your checked bag must weigh 50 pounds (23 kg) or less.
  • American Airlines – For all regions, your checked baggage allowance is weight 50lbs (23kg). This excludes Brazil, for which your allowance is weight 70lbs (32kg).
  • US Airways – Bags over 50 lbs/22 kg are overweight. We charge extra fees for bags from 51-70 lbs (23-32 kg) and 71–100 lbs (33-45 kg).luggage weight

To help you determine what weight is best for you, I look at a combination of different weight criteria:

Weight (in lbs) – Simple enough, how much does the luggage weight?

Acceptable by Size Classification – Not surprisingly, luggage weight is highly correlated with size. While there are exceptions (depending on material composition), larger luggage typically weighs more. Depending on the size of your bag, you can expect the following weight across Small, Medium and Large luggage:

  • Small – Less than 22″ – Typically weigh 6-8 lbs
  • Medium – Between 22″ and 26″ – Typically weigh 8-10 lbs
  • Large – Greater than 26″ – Typically weigh 10+ lbs

Durability Implications – When it comes to luggage weight, there are trade-offs. Sometimes, depending on the manufacturer, a piece of luggage may sacrifice durability, build quality and type of materials to deliver an exceptionally lightweight piece of luggage. Unless you only plan on using your luggage only a handful of times, you don’t want to sacrifice durability for lightweight luggage. It’s important to find luggage as durable as possible at the weight you feel comfortable with.

About the Author Luggage Council

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