It all started in 2006 when Ryanair introduced fees for each checked-in piece of luggage. Now a slew of carriers including, most recently, American Airlines, Continental and Delta are charging for checked bags. And with airlines facing record lost-luggage levels, there's still no guarantee your suitcase will end up in the same place you do.
But there are a few services that help make air travel if not cheaper, then certainly less stressful. Luggage Forward (www.luggageforward.com) ships baggage from your home or office directly to your destination, with rates starting at $52. It can take a day for your bags to catch up with you, but it may be worth the wait to avoid standing in check-in lines or filling out lost-luggage forms. Similar services are available from First Luggage (www.firstluggage.com) and Excess Baggage Company (www.excessbaggage.com).
Meanwhile, hotel companies are also finding ways to lighten your luggage load. Fairmont Hotel and Resorts (fairmont.com) partners with delivery service Sports Express to ship guest luggage and sports equipment to any of its worldwide properties. Dubai's Jumeirah Hotel offers an online "boutique" for items such as shaving cream and suntan lotion that you often can't carry on, thanks to increased security: order them before you board and they'll be waiting in your room when you arrive. And repeat guests can store their luggage at certain Peninsula hotels in the U.S. and Asia, with your clothes not only kept secure between visits but pressed and unpacked before your arrival.
While none of these services will get you to your destination faster, they will at least provide that rarest of travel experiences: peace of mind.
Next Tough Gadgets