There was a recent article on Defector where two of their writers debated the merits of each option. I read the article and commented on Twitter that I had mixed feelings about this decision. I have a flight to Nashville coming in June. I will have to make this decision. Here are the pros and cons of each. I am flying Southwest, so I can check one bag free. The decision changes when there is a fee.
- You don’t have to limit your packing to make it fit in a carry-on eligible bag.
- You don’t have to worry about making sure all of your shampoos and such are in a separate clear bag and the right size.
- The security line is much easier when I am only carrying my phone and the book I plan to read.
- Boarding is easier when you don’t have to look for overhead space for your bag.
- You avoid being the annoying person who holds up the boarding process looking for space.
- If you have a layover you have less stuff to worry about lugging from gate to gate.
- You have to deal with possible lines to check your luggage.
- You have to deal with baggage claim at the end of the trip.
- There is the possibility of lost luggage.
- You might leave your ride waiting while you wait for your luggage.
- If you have your boarding pass, you can head straight to security when you arrive at the airport.
- You can head straight to the exit when you arrive at your destination.
- This reduces the amount of time you have to spend at the airport and reduces the wait of someone picking you up.
- You have control of your possessions so there is no worry about lost luggage.
- You have to be more careful how you pack – the right size liquids in a clear bag and a smaller bag that will fit in the overhead.
- You have more to worry about in the security line.
- You have to take the time to find overhead space when boarding.
- You have more to carry from gate to gate and restrooms/coffee/etc. during a layover.
My decision varies from trip to trip.
If it is a short trip with direct flights I almost always carry everything on with me.
If it is a longer trip with layovers I tend to check my luggage.
I always check my bags on international flights.
Where do you fall in the debate? Do you check your bags? Carry on? Does it change from flight to flight?