After reading the NBC news article about the New York bound traveler on Delta Air Lines Flight 1452 who left several bags at the check-in counter at Seattle-Tacoma International because he or she wanted to avoid paying $1,400 in overweight baggage fees, (which I find hilarious by the way… but I have to say it was a pretty smart move. I would rather save the $1,400 to buy an entirely new wardrobe in New York City), I decided to write a blog post about the luggage/baggage rules from two of the most well-traveled airports I know: JFK (New York) and Heathrow (London) so that you never find yourself having to abandon your luggage at the airport due to such ridiculousness.
Going on holiday can be expensive and the last thing you want is to incur additional costs where you don’t need to. There are taxes on most things when it comes to flights and you need to be careful to take into account all these charges when booking. If you are not sure, always ask your travel agent or airline for a final figure.
Also, some international flights close an hour before departure and even if you check in online, make sure you get to the airport well in advance so you don't have to pay for an entirely new ticket. To be really safe, my advice is to not risk the chance of missing your flight because you're stuck in rush hour traffic or some other possible disaster scenario and booking a room in Heathrow with Travelodge or at Kennedy Airport the night before your departure so you definitely don't miss your flight.
Now, let's talk about baggage fees.
Be a smart traveler and don’t let them take your money, unless completely necessary. There are charges that are worth the extra expense such as your pet or a surfboard or skis. But other than that, let’s be smart about how we pack, shall we?
FreshTraveler Tip: Know in advance what you can take on the plane and what you can’t.
Carry-On Luggage Policies: Heathrow & JFK
Heathrow has a two-bag policy at security. You can carry two bags onto the plane provided they each meet the size requirements of
less than 56 x 45 x 25cm
22.04 x 17.7 x 9.84 inches
There are gauges to check this size at check-in; a handbag counts as one of your pieces of carry on luggage.
Liquids can only be taken through security in quantities of
less than 100ml (3.38 fl oz)
Bottles or pots of liquids must be in a separate clear bag as you pass security and excess amounts should be packed in your main luggage. Once through security you can purchase any liquids such as drinks and perfumes and they can be taken onto the aircraft.
At JFK Airport, each passenger is allowed one carry-on luggage that can fit in the overhead compartment. Each passenger is also allowed one personal item (a briefcase, pillow, laptop, purse, diaper bag, yoga mat etc). Having a yoga mat, a purse, and a bag of Whole Foods snacks counts as three items. All liquids must be in containers that hold
3 ounces (approximately 88ml) or less in volume
Each passenger is allowed three 3-oz containers and they must be stored in a zipper storage bag.
Each bag has a size and weight restriction. You need to check with the individual airlines for the size and weight restrictions before your flight. Click here for great chart from Airfare Watchdog on the luggage and weight restrictions for the major US Airlines.
Generally, any bag over 50 pounds (22.67 kg) will not fit the overhead compartment and must be checked.
Luggage over 70 pounds (31.75 kg) per bag is not permitted at all, or may cause you to be charged an additional fee.
Restricted Carry-On Items: Heathrow & JFK
All sharp objects must be packed in checked bags. No sharp objects are allowed in carry-on bags. This includes pocket knives, sharp-point knitting needles and scissors. Blunt-nosed scissors are allowed in a carry-on bag.
Banned Items: Heathrow & JFK
You must avoid having certain things in your hand luggage as it will be removed by security and may cause problems. As well as the rules on liquids mentioned above you must not carry on sharp implements, blunt objects, explosives, tools of any kind, real or replica weapons including toys, and you must only have one lighter on your person.
Most items can be placed in the hold so if in doubt put it in your main luggage to avoid any issues. A list of what can’t be taken on the plane in Heathrow in either bag can be found on the Heathrow website and is mainly made up of dangerous materials that could be agitated by the heat in the hold.
For JFK Airport, The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) has a long list of items that passengers can no longer bring onto the plane, including nail clippers, metal emery boards and small knives. Bringing one of those items inside your suitcase or in your coat can result in long lines and trouble at the airport. Click here for a complete list of prohibited items at JFK.
FreshTraveler Tip: Do your research before you board.
Baggage rules and allowances do vary between airlines and some are softer on their regulations than others. Check their individual websites and read reviews of people’s experiences to determine what is and isn’t acceptable. Excess baggage charges are expensive and best avoided.
Here are some useful packing tips so you won’t need to abandon your bag at the airport.
1) Pack your bags once, unpack, and then pack again to stop yourself taking unnecessary items. Believe me, you can do without most items. If you can buy something at your destination, like shampoo, do it. You probably only need three pairs of shoes, max. Heels, sandals and sneakers. Unless you are doing something special like rock climbing or hiking.
2) If you have access to a weighing scale at home, weigh your bags if you can.
3) If you can't get out of packing a lot of items because let's say you're traveling for an extended period of time, consider mailing lighter, non-perishable items like clothes and shoes through USPS (United States Postal Service) or UPS to your hotel or the place you are staying at your destination instead of carrying them on the plane. There's a chance it may be cheaper that paying for overweight luggage!
Hope this helps you with packing for your next trip! If you have any other questions or comments to add to this article, feel free to shout out in the comment section below. Safe summer travels!