“We’re looking for volunteers to gate-check their bags.“ I am sure this is not the first time you’ve heard of this message. For most travelers, it implies that your flight is fully booked and boarding might take some time. But for the seasoned traveler, it’s an opportunity.
Airlines asking for volunteers to gate check their bags is actually the airlines response to two possible, anticipated incidents. First, since you already know that it’s a full flight, it is very much likely that there will be a flood of carry-on bags that there will not be enough overhead bin space to accommodate them. Second, there is also a possibility that there is plenty of room in the under-plane baggage area. This “plenty of room” can create a weight distribution issue for the plane.
Now don’t get the impression that there is a standard right or wrong answer here. It still depends on your preference and any convenience or inconvenience that it might result will still be manageable depending on your definition of comfort and manageable situation. But anyway here are some hacks that might help you in making these decisions:
1. Will you be the last group to board? Needless to say, by the time you get on board there will be no overhead bins for you to put your carry on luggage, hence, you might need to consider checking in.
2. Are you in a rush to get to your destination? Not like true “gate check” items like car seats and strollers, that you can grab on the jetway as you exit the aircraft, your bag or hand carries that you check at the gate under these circumstances will possibly be routed to the baggage carousel at your destination airport. So if you don’t want to stand around and wait for your bag to reappear, keep it with you as a carry-on.
So how about your car seat? Do you need to gate check or to bring it aboard. What to do? For me, I always make sure that my kid’s car seat are gate checked. You’ve heard the stories, about strollers and car seats checked in along with your baggage. If it’s not damaged, it gets misplaced by the baggage handlers and your car seat gets delayed by a day or two. It is not worth the hassle! So better get a car seat travel bag. Check out AMT PRO and get this awesome car seat travel bag ONLY $29.77! TOTAL CONVENIENCE for a gate check car seat bag FOR LESS THAN $30.
3. Do you have a connecting flight? Talk with the gate agent , make sure that your bag can make the connection. Unless you’ll need your bag during your layover, since it’s a lot easier to make a tight connection—and less burdensome to wait out a longer layover—without a suitcase to drag behind you. So go and have it checked in.
We sure hope these hacks would help you on your next trip. Will prepare more on our next article.