Stephen Forbes

STEPHEN FORBES reports on the types of luggage luggers you’ll find at the airport

Look around at people’s luggage. Irrespective of destination, the categories remain the same. Of course this isn’t a complete list, so feel free to consider others and add your own in the comments section.

The minimalist.
The minimalist.

The Minimalist: In the challenge to see how little they can take, these people may need to reverse their underwear more than once.

Other than that, they’re harmless and leave plenty of space in the overhead lockers for everyone else.

The Chancer: These are guys who clamber on board with a large laptop bag, suit carrier, and cabin luggage, bumping their fellow passengers as they struggle to their seats.

They tend to board early and fill the overhead compartments so there’s no room for anybody else’s bags.

The Exception
The Exception

Exceptions: Think large curios, outsized musical instruments (didgeridoos are a favourite) or unwieldy sports equipment.

These passengers cannot understand why given their talent, special circumstances, or good looks the airline cannot make an exception and let them take their precious item on board.

Every eventuality: These are the people who have sunblock, raincoats, hiking boots, high heels, beach towels, and parkas.

Any event
Every eventuality.

Avoid getting behind them at the baggage drop or check in queue, because inevitably they won’t have paid the excess baggage allowance in advance.

Making Do: Brown paper packages tied up with string are just a few of their favourite things.

Their homemade cardboard and duct tape suitcases will burst open anywhere likely to cause maximum inconvenience to fellow travellers.

"It's a shame our luggage weighs too much. What if we subtract my husband's clothes?"

Inadvertents: With their average suitcases, these are the people who inadvertently take your suitcase off the carousel.

You thought you’d fool them by putting an identifying pink ribbon on it, but they came up with the same ruse.

Indignants: Security rules are in place specifically to inconvenience them. They’ll be carrying liquids in containers of over 100ml, won’t understand why they have to take their laptops out of their bags or take off their shoes.

They’ll debate each point at length with the security personnel and anyone in the queue, including you standing behind them.

Everything but the sink.
Everything but the sink.

Flusterers: Their boarding passes, ID books or passports are packed at the bottom of their bags. This means a lengthy delay every time they are required to produce some essential document. Each time a document has been examined they repack it in its safe place. This means delays at check-in, security, passport control and boarding gates.

Of course this isn’t a complete list, so feel free to consider other categories. If you want to avoid some of the worst packing pitfalls here are some tips from British Airways’ international cabin crew, very experienced packers.

  • Roll your clothes. It saves space and helps prevent creasing.
  • Stuff shoes with socks or underwear.
  • Take plastic bags – useful for separating shoes, which may dirty your white suit, laundry or storing damp swimming costumes.
  • Don’t wear too many items that you’ll be asked to remove at security – belts, jewellery, etc. Decant liquids into 100ml bottles and seal in a clear bag.
  • Check in online and print your boarding pass at home or download it to your mobile phone. Keep all your travel documentation in a safe place, such as a separate zip-up compartment at the top of your bag, so you can reach it easily.
  • When duty free shopping, have your boarding pass to hand.
  • Check the baggage guidelines for your airline before you depart. Know what you’re allowed to take on board and what the hold baggage allowance is.  Not all airlines have the same baggage policies.
  • A leather pull handle grip and ID tag, flush mounted TSA combi lock and all direction wheels make for a smooth spinner in the "python range" from Samsonite
    A leather pull handle grip and ID tag, flush mounted TSA combi lock and all direction wheels make for a smooth spinner in the “python range” from Samsonite

    Weigh your bags at home. British Airways offers a discount on excess baggage if you pay online before you get to the airport. Check the airline policy, if you know your bags are overweight. Some airlines insist on cash for excess baggage.

  • A good set of wheels is worth the money. Poor quality wheels that break can be more hassle than they’re worth. You’ll thank yourself for investing in those slick wheels when you’re running for the gate.