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Checking your backpack on flights

MartaM

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Portugués costal (Sept. 2020)
Thought I’d share our solution since I spent way too much time thinking about this. Our 36 liter Osprey packs measured too large for carry-on with Lufthansa and I didn’t really want to carry them through the airport to a connecting flight. On the way to Porto I used the blue IKEA bags w/ zipper which did ok but tore to the point it didn’t seem worth hanging onto them during our trip. I knew we could get bags wrapped at the airport but was concerned about where and what time they opened, and the cost is €14 each. I found 2 huge zipper bags designed for bedding at a ‘China Store’ and a roll of clear tape €8 total. The gate agent was super careful making sure the baggage label stuck. The tape came right off once we got home so they can be reused. Problem solved!
 

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CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
I've had several pilgrims arrive in Madrid without their pack.
All had to re-gear while they waited, sometimes more than 3 weeks, to get their gear.
I will never check my pack TO Madrid unless I'm forced.
But yes, these China bags are great for flying home.
 

Orlando Wren

Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances (2018), Fisterra (2018)
Portuguese from Porto (Oct 2018)
Frances (2019)
Thought I’d share our solution since I spent way too much time thinking about this. Our 36 liter Osprey packs measured too large for carry-on with Lufthansa and I didn’t really want to carry them through the airport to a connecting flight. On the way to Porto I used the blue IKEA bags w/ zipper which did ok but tore to the point it didn’t seem worth hanging onto them during our trip. I knew we could get bags wrapped at the airport but was concerned about where and what time they opened, and the cost is €14 each. I found 2 huge zipper bags designed for bedding at a ‘China Store’ and a roll of clear tape €8 total. The gate agent was super careful making sure the baggage label stuck. The tape came right off once we got home so they can be reused. Problem solved!
Excellent idea! I gave away one of those "China bags" recently, thinking why would I ever need this again. Now I know why I should have kept it - for just in case I have to check a bag. But I must say, I do everything possible to avoid checking a bag! I have a 36 L Osprey that fit in the overhead on a recent Lufthansa flight. It's 22" high if I don't fill the "top" puffy part. I carry a personal bag ("string bag") with a few things from my backpack to make that backpack fit their rules. And I wear my hoodie and rain jacket on the plane! Whatever it takes to avoid checking a bag, I'll do it!
 

Jeff Robinson

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
I agree with the previous comments. I generally carry on my bag for reasons of convenience. As a retired pilot I will add that the chances of having your bag misdirected are GREATLY reduced if you fly with the same air carrier or carriers of the same alliance from your initial point of checking your bag to the point where you retrieve it.

It is when your bag must be transferred between carriers and especially those carriers outside of the carrier's alliance that bags are misdirected or miss a connecting flight.
By alliance, I am referring to the "code sharing" agreements the major carriers such as Delta, United, and American have with other carriers, both foreign and domestic.
 

Bisnick

Member
Past OR future Camino
Portuguese "2015" missed one day. Portuguese "May 2016" ."2019" April/ May Portuguese Senda Litoral
I purchased the Osprey Airporter medium for my Exos at a decent sale price. I pack a fresh set of clothes and lightweight shoes together with a tough plastic bag and a printed label addressed to Casa Ivar all inside together with gaffa tape rolled around one walking pole. Once out of the airport I pack the airporter bag, shoes and clean clothes into the bag and I have my pre printed label with ivars details and my email and tel no on it. I wrap the parcel tightly with the gaffa and pop into the closest post office.
It is a lovely feeling putting on fresh clothes and shoes after the camino for your flight home.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I purchased the Osprey Airporter medium for my Exos at a decent sale price. I pack a fresh set of clothes and lightweight shoes together with a tough plastic bag and a printed label addressed to Casa Ivar all inside together with gaffa tape rolled around one walking pole. Once out of the airport I pack the airporter bag, shoes and clean clothes into the bag and I have my pre printed label with ivars details and my email and tel no on it. I wrap the parcel tightly with the gaffa and pop into the closest post office.
It is a lovely feeling putting on fresh clothes and shoes after the camino for your flight home.
This is my common routine, too. I usually send an empty duffel bag up to Santiago as soon as I arrive in Spain. Then when I get to Santiago I fill it with olive oil, pimentón, some Galician canned seafood (sounds awful but some of them are delicious and this stand in the Santiago market is great), cheese, and good beans/alubias. YUM! (and though people always ask, I have never had a leakage of olive oil - always use cans or plastic bottles and wrap them in my clothes and a bit of plastic bubble wrap).
 

Scott Sweeney

Active Member
I've had several pilgrims arrive in Madrid without their pack.
All had to re-gear while they waited, sometimes more than 3 weeks, to get their gear.
I will never check my pack TO Madrid unless I'm forced.
But yes, these China bags are great for flying home.
I agree, our packs come with us. One year we lost train reservation, two night of hotel because our bags never left Newark.
 

Kev&Kath

Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
When I look at the size of some of the carry-on luggage people haul onto the aircraft I would never hesitate to carry-on a 36lt or smaller pack. I've read too many comments on here from folk losing their packs in transit - with the accompanying stress of (sometimes) having to purchase replacements.
 

Grousedoctor

Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Have always carried on our Osprey 36L packs. Have never had a problem with them in overhead compartments. Nor have we ever been questioned anout them being too large. A couple years ago, although we had our packs with us, we had to check our poles. As we stood by the luggage carrousel in Santiago, guess what! No poles! My advice! Don’t check your backpack!
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
I counted over 1000 flights in my working life and only was inconvenienced by late arriving luggage twice - once being my failure to comprehend the efficiency of the Swiss integrated-transport network which seamlessly moves bags along with your combined air/rail ticket.

Nonetheless, some good advice above - especially wrt canned seafood in Spain. The quality is exceptional.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I have sent my Osprey pack twice as luggage and had no problems. Just saying

Buen Camino Bob
No question, it’s a very low risk. But if it happens to you, as it did to me in 2014, it can cause major disruptions. Especially for people coming from overseas.

I would never ever check my backpack. Some would say if your pack is too big too carry on the plane, it’s too big to carry on your back for a month. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I just don’t want to take the risk. It’s like deciding whether to feed the meter. In my town, odds are very low of getting a ticket, but if you’ve gotten several tickets you’re less likely to risk it again than if you’ve gotten away with it for years as my son has.
 

gittiharre

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF Austria Czech Le Puy Geneva RLS V. Jacobi V. Regia V. Baltica/Scandinavica Porto Muxia
I've had several pilgrims arrive in Madrid without their pack.
All had to re-gear while they waited, sometimes more than 3 weeks, to get their gear.
I will never check my pack TO Madrid unless I'm forced.
But yes, these China bags are great for flying home.
I never have and never will check in my pack!
 

davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Past OR future Camino
2019
No question, it’s a very low risk. But if it happens to you, as it did to me in 2014, it can cause major disruptions. Especially for people coming from overseas.

Yes.

It never matters that checking a backpack has previously gone without a problem. What matters is that it only takes one time for it to become a major headache.

A few years ago I had to fly out-of-state in order to get to a trail head for a 3 week backpacking trip in the Colorado Rockies. Up to that point, I had always checked my backpack as luggage, containing all of my gear and clothing, whenever I had to fly to a destination for a backpacking trip.

This time it was lost. To this day, it has never been recovered. The airline suspected that it may have been stolen at some point during the baggage handling process. In the end, however, the reason didn't matter. Since then, I have talked to other backpackers who have had their backpacks lost -- not necessarily stolen -- when flying.

So, here I was 24 hours prior to the start of the hiking trip. I was tired, and had been hoping to rest up for a good day at altitude (9800 feet), in order to get a bit of a head start acclimating because of the hike being above 10,000 ft. for most of that trip.

Instead, I had to spend much of the day replacing gear and clothing. Some, I could do a direct replacement. For other stuff, like my tent and sleeping quilt which were special ordered, I had to make due with something heavier and less efficient. Plus, I had to replace all of the freeze dried food I had packed.

The fact that every other time I had checked my backpack it had arrived safely didn't matter one teensy bit. :)
 
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Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I have a 36L backpack I bring onboard with me, but I always check the particular airline's dimenensions for carrry-on luggage as it does seem like some are shrinking in size. I try to pack it a little loosely, so it can still fit in the metal bins used to verify size dimensions before boarding. No problem so far.
 
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