Shipping vs. Checking: Which would you rather do?

George Hobica, February 15, 2011
Fares from Washington DC:

    Airline baggage fees got you down? Afraid your luggage will get lost, stolen or damaged? Then why not discover the joys of shipping luggage ahead using economical ground shipping services?

    By shipping your belongings ahead of your arrival by 4 or 5 days, you can save money in some scenarios. But in all cases, you'll enjoy better shipment tracking than the airlines can offer, plus better security. And, of course, you can breeze through the airport without waiting in ever-increasing lines to check in your bags with the airlines.

    Below, a chart comparing shipments of varying weights and sizes sent over routes of varying length on the three major shipping companies compared with an airline with relatively high bag fees and one with low or no bag fees. As you can see, shipping charges compare favorably with lugging your own luggage.

    Note: these fees are all for one-way travel or shipment. Frequent flyers with status, first and business class customers, and certain other categories of customers may be exempt from some or all of these fees.

     Bags  shipped or checked

     Route

     USPS  Parcel Post

     FedEx   Ground

     UPS Ground

     Delta

     Southwest

    One 25 pound suitcase, normal size (under 61 linear inches), 

    Boston to San Francisco 

    $29.88

    $40.53

    $36.06

    $23 (paid online) or $25 (paid at airport)

     Free

    Chicago  to Orlando

    $19.32

    $22.72

    $20.67

    $23-$25

     Free

    Phoenix to Philadelphia

    $29.88

    $40.53

    $36.06

    $23-$25

     Free

    Los Angeles to Seattle

    $19.32

    $22.72

    $20.67

    $23-$25

     Free

    One 55 lb suitcase, normal size

    Boston to San Francisco

    $56.09

    $61.01

    $67.80

    $113-$115 ($90 overweight charge + $23-$25 first bag fee)

     $50

    Chicago to Orlando

    $33.59

    $35.50

    $39.45

    $113-$115 ($90 overweight charge + $23-$25 first bag fee)

     $50

    Phoenix to Philadelphia

    $56.09

    $61.01

    $67.80

    $113-$115 ($90 overweight charge + $23-$25 first bag fee)

     $50

    Los Angeles to Seattle

    $33.59

    $35.50

    $39.45

    $113-$115 ($90 overweight charge + $23-$25 first bag fee)

     $50

    One 25 lb suitcase, one 35 lb suitcase, 

    Boston to San Francisco

    $68.49

    $84.49

    $84.90

    $23+$32 ($55) paid online; $25+$35 ($60) paid at airport

     Free

    Chicago to Orlando

    $43.40

    $47.25

    $47.93

    $23+$32 ($55) paid online; $25+$35 ($60) paid at airport

     Free

    Phoenix to Philadelphia

    $68.49

    $84.89

    $84.90

    $23+$32 ($55) paid online; $25+$35 ($60) paid at airport

     Free

    Los Angeles to Seattle

    $43.40

    $47.25

    $47.93

    $23+$32 ($55) paid online; $25+$35 ($60) paid at airport

     Free

    One 60 pound suitcase measuring 70 linear inches (40 by 30 by 10)

    Boston to San Francisco

    $107.16

    $67.64

    $71.27

    $288-$290 ($265 + $23 online or $25 airport)

     $50

    Chicago to Orlando

    $67.89

    $42.15

    $41.70

    $288-$290 ($265 + $23 online or $25 airport)

     $50

    Phoenix to Philadelphia

    $107.16

    $67.64

    $71.27

    $288-$290 ($265 + $23 online or $25 airport)

     $50

    Los Angeles to Seattle

    $67.89

    $42.15

    $41.70

    $288-$290 ($265 + $23 online or $25 airport)

     $50

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