Examining What Works Best For Flying Long-Haul


When preparing to embark upon a long journey, it is often challenging for passengers to determine exactly which kind of luggage to bring with them. There are a variety of factors to weigh when this decision is made, including how much they can comfortably carry, airline fees, and what they will need during the long journey. While some opt for heavy packing with family needs or for a longer journey, others attempt to pack light.

Across the board, whatever decision a passenger makes will need to be optimal to match their individual needs. Therefore, those preparing to travel long-haul will first need to evaluate what is important to them, and then be sure to bring luggage appropriately.

Keep fees in mind

When traveling long-haul, fees can really rack up. While most long-haul carriers (with a few very specific exceptions) offer passengers the opportunity to bring a carry-on for free, very few do the same for checked baggage. A passenger on United Airlines with two checked bags, for example, could wind up paying over $170 each way, for a total of $340 roundtrip.

Additionally, passengers who have status on an airline can receive specific discounts. Furthermore, fare classes within economy can affect baggage fees. For example, those flying Basic Economy on United Airlines are subject to higher baggage fees than those with standard economy class tickets.

Suitcase in front of window at airport

Photo: Nok Lek Travel Lifestyle / Shutterstock

Passengers should also keep an eye on the weight of their baggage, as airlines all charge extremely high fees for baggage that ends up being over the carrier’s weight limit. In this case, it can be more beneficial for travelers to pack their belongings into two separate checked bags than one which may be over the weight limit.

Checked luggage types

For checked baggage, most passengers opt for large wheeled suitcases, which come in both soft and hard cover varieties. While harder suitcases are able to protect the luggage contents more effectively due to their stronger surface, softer suitcases can often expand and fit even more items.

Large duffel bags, which were once a common passenger choice, are less popular now due to the greater effort required to move them. Duffels, however, can be some of the largest capacity bags for long-haul travelers to use.

Choosing carry-ons for your long-haul adventure

The most important thing for any traveler to remember about their carry-on is that they should fit everything they require for not just the trip, but also a day or two after arrival in the event the passenger’s luggage doesn’t arrive or is trapped in a different location. Passengers are permitted to bring a carry-on bag, in addition to a personal item.

Luggage and Aircraft in Background Shutterstock

Photo: ImYanis/Shutterstock

For carry-on bags, women and men both tend to opt for wheeled suitcases, although some hand-held small duffels are used. For personal items, backpacks are likely the best choice for long-haul flights as they can easily hold all of a passenger’s essentials as well as an extra set of clothes or two. However, some opt for smaller purses or briefcases depending on personal needs. Passengers in business class or first class cabins will likely have more room made available for their carry-on baggage.

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