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Carry On

How to beat airline baggage fees? Wearable Luggage.

by , July 24, 2013

So we’re not officially suggesting or endorsing this carry method.  However, the concept is fascinating…potentially genius.  Even a little punk-rock.  Maybe we are suggesting it.  Frankly, we’re not completely sure.

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This week airline baggage fees turned 5 years old.

Yeah…we’re not singing “Happy Birthday” either.  Back in 2008, when airlines were struggling to financially stay afloat, they needed a quick way to make some extra coin.  It was our wallets that they turned to, of course.  A $15 per bag fee was created.  And since then, it has earned airlines an additional $3+ billion per year.  Today, these fees range between $25 – $50 to check a bag on most domestic flights, much more for international.  Across the pond, the extra baggage fees for domestic flights in the UK are even pricier, starting at $60, then rising up to $120+ USD (and beyond).  With the profitable success airlines are seeing because of this new cash cow, there are no signs of these charges going away anytime soon.  If anything, they’ll continue to creep higher, continuing to hurt your bank account’s feelings.

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They’ll even get you if you try to tactfully squeeze more items into your carry-on.  Airlines specifically train the gate agents to keep a razor-sharp watchful eye over passengers whose bags may not fit their 22″ x 14″ x 9″ matchbook-sized requirements.  If and when they spot your oversized bag, you’ll be charged a gate fee…sometimes for more than the original checked bag fee.  Either way, you’re going to be handing over some cash.  It doesn’t seem like there is a way to outsmart these money-hungry aviation corporations.  There’s no fun in that.

So how do you beat these airline baggage fees?

Wearable luggage.

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Most of these examples are pretty horrendous while you’re wearing them.  They’re certainly not going to make you look better.  But they’re not made for that.

The thing to remember is that these products are presumably meant for you to bring through security like a bag or any other form of carry.  You only need to wear the marshmallow-man-overcoat once you’re at your gate, approaching the agent to hand over your boarding ticket, walking down the jetway, and entering the plane.  At this point, you’re fully wearing your luggage.  Airlines don’t count an article of clothing that you’re currently wearing as luggage.  Not yet anyway.  Once you’re on board and at your seat, you can take off this luggage cloak, fold it up, and stow it.

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Effectively, you’re flipping the bird to the airlines and these excessive fees, while skirting around the rules in a clever way.  But, you’re going to look ridiculous while doing so.

Let’s look at a few of the more popular options out there…

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Jaktogo’s self-titled bag/jacket is pretty cunning.  It’s a convertible design, which starts off looking like a traditional polyester shoulder bag.  This allows you to check-in and pass through security with an extra bag, without wearing a massive weighed-down poncho.  Then it unfolds into a jacket with 14 pockets in total.  Slip the jacket on just before you’re entering the plane, and you’ll save money every step you take.  At $109.99 (denim for $239 and leather for $359), it would quickly pay for itself after just one or two round trip flights.  They also have some other adaptable products, such as the Dresstogo (a ladies’ option with 10 pockets for $93.99) and the Ponchotogo (sleeveless version of the Jaktogo jacket with 10 pockets for $93.99).  Though it won’t likely win any fashion awards anytime soon, we must admit that the leather Jaktogo really isn’t all that obvious-looking.

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Rufus Roo offers up the most affordable products in the mix, coming in at $22 for kids-sized, $45 and $53 for adult medium and large, respectively.  These are not convertibles, they’ll remain in the jacket form factor, so you’ll be wearing this the whole way through the process until you sit down at your assigned seat on the plane and stow it under the seat in front of you.  Each comes with 6 pockets for stowing up to 22 lbs of your things.  Definitely looks like “wearable luggage” to us, not fooling anyone.

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Bagket comes in with a convertible vest/bag carry option, with 22 pockets which can hold 15.4 lbs of luggage.  Made from “100% high quality polamide”, so you can expect some water resistance and decent durability.  The red strap across your stomach could be matched to the color of the vest itself, so as not to scream “I’m wearing my luggage!”.  $89 for non-UK/EC residents and $106 for those who live within.

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Lastly, the Stuffa Jacket coming from the UK brand Stuffa.  A non-convertible vest which actually looks like a real vest.  If you so choose to go down this wearable luggage rabbit hole, we think this is probably the best-looking option out there.  Available in a men’s version and a women’s version, both priced at $57 and available in two colors (a tasteful “outdoorsy” red and classic black).  Unlike the other products here, the Stuffa Jacket appears to be designed primarily as a functional bit of performance clothing, which can also carry luggage.  Not the other way around.

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It looks a lot like most other standard outdoor down vests, and performs like one as well.  This is the only bit of wearable luggage we could actually see possibly wearing outside of an airport or travel situation (in Stuffa’s words, “also perfect for short trips, long walks, festival-going – or for keeping you warm when you’re out and about“).  12 pockets and able to discreetly store up to 11 lbs without looking frumpy.

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What do you think?

Hideous clothing that you wouldn’t be found dead in?
Or a super keen carry method to outfox the airlines and save you cash?

Us…we’re still not sure.


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