10 Weird Items That You CAN Travel With

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The prohibited items list from the TSA might seem long, but as it turns out, there are plenty of weird things that you can in fact travel with.

1. Snow Globes
As long as it appears to be less than 3.4 ounces (which the TSA points out is about the size of a tennis ball), and you can fit it into your clear, plastic bag with all your other liquids, feel free to pop your favorite snow globe in your carry-on.

2. Ice Skates
You might think that a blade that allows you to do double sow cows on frozen water wouldn’t make it past security, but ice skates are carry-on friendly.3. Antlers
Just like a bicycle, as long as its correctly packaged and you pay the fee, you can check a rack of antlers (provided there’s enough space on the plane). The skull must be wrapped and the tips covered though, and on some airlines they need to be in a hard sided box, so be sure that you work on your antler packing skills before you head to the airport.

4. Christmas Trees
Delta is all about the holiday spirit, and is happy to accept your Christmas trees as long as they’re wrapped in burlap.

5. Really big musical instruments
We’ve all seen the 20-something indie singer songwriter get on the plane with his/her guitar. But what about those instruments that won’t fit above or under the seat in front of you? KLM will actually let you book an individual seat for your instrument. Just in case you didn’t want to be separated from your harp for too long. That piano will have to travel as freight, however.

6. Needlepoint
Didn’t have time to finish up that needlepoint sampler while staying at Grandma’s? Pop it in your handbag along with your knitting needles.

7. Live lobsters
Yes, live lobsters and even crabs are perfectly fine to check on many airlines, like Southwest and Alaska even lets you pre-book live animals as you would your dog. It’s all dependent on how you pack them though, so check individual airline regulations. You can even have the animal as carry-on, as long as it’s in its own bag with nothing else in it.

8. Crematory remains
Depending on what airline you’re flying, you can carry-on and check crematory remains, according to TSA regulations. Little known fact: TSA agents are not allowed to open containers carrying remains, so be sure to pack in a container that can pass through the x-ray, like plastic or wood.

9. Parachutes
Yes, you can bring your parachute, as long as you arrive an additional 30 minutes early to the airport since the security officers might need to open the entire thing to inspect it.

10. Monkeys
Well, not just any monkey, but if you have a service monkey (yes, that’s a thing) they are more than welcome aboard. You may be asked to remove the monkey’s diaper for the TSA agent however.

Track Your Lost Luggage With TrakDot

Imagine knowing where your bag is even when the airline doesn’t. That’s the idea behind TrakDot, a new tech gadget that combines a $50 device, a $12 subscription and a cellular data plan. Switch the gadget on, pack it in your luggage, and if your checked bag doesn’t appear, you can find it more quickly than the airlines can using GloboTrac’s website.

Via ArsTechnica:

If a bag doesn’t reach its intended destination, “the airlines don’t know where it is,” GlobaTrac CTO Joseph Morgan told Ars at the CES Unveiled event Sunday night. “If it ain’t where it’s supposed to be, they’ve lost it, they don’t know where it is. They will eventually find it, but that doesn’t give you peace of mind.”

A simple question remains unanswered: how do you recover your bag once you know where it is? You’ve still got to navigate the airlines recovery process, but perhaps you’ll sleep better (in your borrowed T-shirt) when you’re able to see exactly where your precious stuff is.

TrakDot goes to market in March. This traveler is sticking with traveling light enough to go carry on only.

[Photo Credit: TrakDot]

Irish Minister’s fury over Ryanair $120 baggage fee

Ryanair has yet again managed to make the news with their outrageous fees – though this time, they may have annoyed the wrong person.

For the busy summer season, Ryanair passengers will have to pay £5 more for their checked luggage – making the first checked bag £20 ($29) , and second bag £40 ($58). The real kicker comes when you are unable to check in online – which will double the checked bag fee to £40 for the first bag and £80 for the second.

With these numbers, a family of two (each with two bags) that finds themselves unable to do an online check in could be paying as much as $350 for the right to travel with their bags. And when you consider that seats on Ryanair sell for as little as $5, you’ll see why a bargain airline isn’t always the cheapest option.

Irish Finance Minister Sammy Wilson is so outraged, that he is urging passengers to take their business elsewhere. Mr. Wilson says Ryanair is treating passengers with “arrogance and disdain”.

Of course, the big winner in this new fee scheme is Ryanair- just this week, they announced a healthy profit from the past year, making them one of just a handful of profitable airlines in the world. So – if you plan to travel on Ryanair this summer season, be sure to verify that you can do online check in, and that you pack your stuff in one bag, otherwise you may burn through all your vacation cash in just a few flights.

(Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

Six reasons why I don’t like to check my luggage

In the past week, we’ve posted a lot about the upcoming carry-on fee being introduced on Spirit Airlines. In that discussion, a lot of commenters pointed out that too many people carry too much stuff on their flights.

I am guilty of refusing to check my bags (when possible), but I don’t feel like I’m cheating on the airlines – if anything, I think the airlines have been cheating us for years. Here are my top reasons to refuse checking bags:

Security has made checking bags a major hassle

The airport experience is a pretty lousy one. In the past, you’d walk up to a check-in desk, hand over your ticket to a smiling airline employee, and drop your bags on the scales. That was the last you’d see of them until you landed and retrieved them from the baggage carousel.

Nowadays, the TSA has added a second level of hassle to checked bags – and in most cases, you now show up at an electronic kiosk, and wait for a staff member to call your name and tag your bags. You then need to drag them over to a TSA screening station, and in some cases, this involves waiting in line until the agents have time for you.

It is obvious that airports were not designed to deal with this step in security, but the least they could do is make the wait shorter.

The price of checking a bag

I have elite status on several airlines, and when I’m lucky enough to fly them, I don’t pay for checked baggage. But every now and then I have to fly an airline I don’t frequent, and really don’t like the idea of paying to have a bag loaded in the hold.

If I fly with my wife and daughter and we all check a bag, the price of my trip could easily go up by $300 – even though I’m getting the same lousy service I always did. Am I saving $300 on my ticket price? Nope.

The “carry-on bag fee” annoys me because you are suddenly out of options – you can either pay to check a bag, or pay to carry it on board. Either way, the airline will make money off you.

You can’t trust the airlines (or the baggage handlers, the TSA, fellow passengers or the airport staff)

Once you hand your bag over to the airlines, it passes a large number of people. And sadly, airport staff are not all that reliable.

Bags are regularly emptied of all valuables, and even when they are offloaded, you run the risk of strangers walking off with them in the terminal. Since there are absolutely no safeguards in place, someone can walk into the terminal, walk up to the carousel, and steal any bags they want.

This is exactly how a baggage thief operated in 2009 – he simply walked up to bags, loaded them in his car, and sold the contents at a flea market on weekends. Total haul? Over 600 bags!

US Airports should look at airports in Europe where the luggage area is still a sterile zone – it won’t stop fellow passengers from stealing your bag, but it will keep non-passengers away from them.

Retrieving your bags takes too long

I once waited four hours for the airline to offload my bags. Now, I’m not important enough that every minute of my day matters, but after a long flight, the last thing I want to do is hang around the airport waiting for my bags to come down the belt.

I find the baggage carousel to be one of the most depressing parts of a trip – everyone is in a foul mood, they all just want to go home, and they’ll push you and your family out of the way to reach their bags when they spot them.

The great unknown of where your bag goes

The world of technology is weird – we wait at the airport gate, remotely streaming movies to our iPad, using the airport-wide wireless Internet service, but at the same time, airlines are often unable to reliably get your bags from A to B.

A recent report shows that airlines are losing 3,000 bags every hour, every single day. Even in this day and age, waiting at the baggage carousel is like scratching a lottery ticket – you just never know what will happen next.

And when airlines do lose your bags, you never know if/when you’ll see them again. In addition to this, airlines have very little respect for your belongings. It could be a minor fire that burns everything to ashes, or it could be your priceless guitar – but sooner or later, an airline will damage your belongings.

Why check when you don’t have to?

This one is the most important of all. Airlines allow me to carry one bag and one personal item. When I fly, I’ll carry a laptop bag and a 22′ rolling case. My case fits in the overhead (wheels first) and my laptop bag goes under the seat. With these two bags, I don’t have to check my bags – because the airline rules state I’m allowed to carry them on board.

If people are carrying too much on the planes, then the airlines shouldn’t penalize everyone with paid carry-on rules, they should enforce their own rules. Even with bag sizers and gate agents, people are dragging too much on board. Two bags is the limit? Then enforce that limit. The solution is not to start charging for carry-on baggage, and it isn’t in banning all carry-on bags.

A modest proposal: Let’s ban large carry-ons altogether

A bill introduced in the U.S. Senate last week would ban airlines from charging for carry-on luggage, according to Reuters. Two senators rightly point out that carry-ons often contain items that are “important for the safety and health” of travelers, including medication and eyewear.

But can we please keep in mind that Spirit Airlines’ now infamous decision to charge for carry-on luggage only applies to items too large to fit in the seat in front of the passenger? You can still carry on personal items for free, and that would include a large purse, brief case, or backpack into which you can stuff whatever essentials or valuables you desire. Coats, strollers, cameras, and certain other items are also carried in-cabin for free.

Let’s get real here. To avoid looking disingenuous, Spirit should simply ban carry on bags altogether rather than making them a profit center. And the US Congress should let airlines conduct business as they see fit, and if it really cares about airline passengers, instead legislate a solution to the real safety risks of carry-on luggage.

Spirit’s CEO, Ben Baldanza, with some justification, claims that the overhead bin fee will discourage carry-on overcrowding and lead to safer air travel, both for flight attendants and passengers, who are sometimes injured when lifting heavy bags into the bins and by bags falling out of the bins, despite the airlines’ constant “bags do tend to shift in flight” PA announcements.

But most likely, safety isn’t the real issue here, at least not for an airline CEO. Baldanza also suggests that the airline will be able to board and deplane their aircraft faster, which implies that Spirit will profit by faster airport turnarounds, and thus be able to complete more flights per day and earn more revenue per plane (or fly more passengers with fewer multi-million dollar jets).

Is safety the real issue here?But if safety is really the issue, then the airline should ban large carry-ons altogether, rather than charging for them. Is a carry-on that is charged $45 any safer than one riding for free? Of course not. Indeed, in the infancy of commercial aviation, there were no overhead bins at all, just hat racks into which it was forbidden to place even the smallest flight bag or other hard object. Everything else went under the seat. (OK, OK, the seats were spaced farther apart, granted.)

In any case, the US Congress should back off. If Spirit or any other airline decides to ban larger-sized carry-ons for safety reasons or to charge for them for revenue-enhanhcement reasons or to discourage passengers from using the overhead bins altogether, then that’s their business. If the government were really consumer focused, they should recognize the health hazards of large carry-on luggage and encourage airlines to ban the practice altogether, following Spirit’s model of only permitting smaller carry-ons that fit under the seat.

And there are about a thousand other things Congress should focus on when it comes to air travel, such as fixing the air traffic control system.

Then we could go back to the old model of free checked baggage, or not. But that should be the airlines’ decision. Or maybe passengers will finally “get it” that the airlines don’t want to be carrying their luggage in the first place, and they’d learn the pleasures of 5-day FedEx Ground delivery service, at least on domestic flights.

Airlines could save millions, and offer free checked baggage once again.

Although putting an end to large carry-on bags, whether free or paid, would require the airlines to hire more baggage handlers and check in staff, who are paid relatively modest wages, most likely the carriers would come out ahead by boarding and deplaning planes far faster than currently possible. It doesn’t take an airline CEO with an MBA to figure out that if every one of the thousands of flights flown in the US each day could shave 30 or 45 minutes off of their schedules by turning around quicker at the airport, then the airlines would save millions in equipment, fuel and the more expensive salaries paid to pilots, who often sit around doing nothing while passengers attempt to stuff bags in the overhead bins, blocking other passengers from reaching their seats.

With the money they save, airlines could once again offer free checked bags, just like in the good old days, when flying was fun.

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George Hobica is the founder of Airfarewatchdog™, the most inclusive source of airfare deals that have been researched and verified by experts. Airfarewatchdog compares fares from all airlines and includes the increasing number of airline-site-only and promo code fares.