Flying? Save Money, Frustration by Shipping Your Luggage

Last Updated Feb 21, 2010 11:57 PM EST

Remember the good old days when the airlines would lose your checked baggage for free? Those days are long gone; these days, many airlines charge you a free for most baggage (and then, to add insult to injury, often lose it anyway).

Surely there's a better way.

Kiplinger contends that there is a better way -- ship your baggage using a service like Fedex or UPS instead. Sound crazy? That's what I thought at first too, but it actually makes a lot of sense. The price of sending a bag via Fedex, for example, varies between slightly more than checking a bag and dramatically cheaper, depending upon whether it's under or over the weight limits.

Here are some examples. compiled a chart comparing the cost of sending bags of various weights via Delta, Southwest, and a couple of shipping services. A 25 pound suitcase from Chicago or Orlando would cost $17 via Fedex but $23 on Delta Airlines.

The difference is more pronounced if you check an over-weight bag. A 60 pound bag on that same route would cost $36 via Fedex but nearly $300 on Delta. Ouch.

And it's not just the price. Even if the prices are similar, you can at least trust that a bag shipped via UPS or Fedex will arrive on time. Can you say the same for your luggage when you fly?

Photo by ToastyKen