beat budget airlines' rip-off baggage charges

luggageWe've all been there: that "bargain" flight to Europe that ended up costing a fortune in luggage fees.
Checking in a 26kg bag on a Ryanair flight to the Continent and back can cost an eye-watering £310 – much more than the cost of the flight.
But a new courier company can transport your bag to the same destination and back for just £60. We look at how it works. says it wants to "put the pleasure back into travel and save you money along the way".

Describing itself as ideal for students, business travellers, golfers, skiers, climbers, gap year travellers, globe trotters and the rest, it operates a door-to-door courier service within the UK and worldwide.

So, does it save you money? Well that depends where you're going, the airline you're flying with and how much stuff you want to take.

I compared luggage costs for easyJet and Ryanair flights to France, Spain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The table shows baggage costs for a return journey flying out on 28th June and returning on 5th July.

Airline & destination

20kg bag booked online


Sendmybag 20kg

Sendmybag 26kg

Winner 20kg

Winner 26kg

Ryanair: Stansted to Malaga





Sendmybag (£12 cheaper)

Sendmybag (£250 cheaper)

Ryanair: Stansted to Derry





Sendmybag (£33 cheaper)

Sendmybag (£272 cheaper)

easyJet: Gatwick to Bordeaux





easyJet (£30 cheaper)

Sendmybag (£52 cheaper)

easyJet: Stansted to Belfast





easyJet (£31 cheaper)

Sendmybag (£51 cheaper

As the table shows Sendmybag beats Ryanair or Easyjet – the most notorious airlines when it comes to extra charges – most of the time.
The courier company really comes into its own if you want to take a heavy bag. Ryanair has a checked-in luggage limit of 20kg with every extra kg costing £20 payable at the airport. So taking a 26kg bag will cost an extra £120 each way on top of the normal luggage fee.

How much your luggage costs with Ryanair depends on where you travel and when – it charges more if you travel in "peak" months (June to September and over Christmas and New Year)

easyJet is much more reasonable when it comes to check-in luggage and if you're just travelling with a 20kg bag it beats Sendmybag on flights both to Bordeaux and Belfast. If you want to take 26kg, the courier is cheaper.

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If you are a victim of a strike, or any other event beyond the airline's control (including ash clouds!), they must offer you a refund (in which case it's up to you to find a way home) or an alternative flight. While you are waiting for the flight you have the right to food and refreshment and accommodation.

If you are on a package holiday, your tour operator is entirely responsible for looking after you until you get back to the UK.

This is more likely to happen due to the financial crisis, but in some situations you are covered. 

If you pay by credit card and it's over £100, you'll get a refund from the card company. 

Your travel insurance may well cover you too, but check before you go.  

Talk to the airline, and if it is temporarily misplaced they should arrange for it to be sent to your accommodation, and you should be either given cash to cover the essentials in the interim.

If it's completely lost you must wait 21 days and then make a claim for compensation. If you are travelling as part of a package you can claim costs from your operator.

If you are travelling within the EU you need an EHIC card, which gives you access to public healthcare. However, this won't necessarily be free, and if you need extra services such as accommodation for a carer, a helicopter home or a delayed flight, you could end up seriously out of pocket.

The only protection that will guarantee you will be looked after without running up a horrendous debt is by having travel insurance - which often covers up to £10 million of costs.

The most common form of theft is pick-pocketing, followed by theft from a car and bag snatching. Meanwhile, 752,000 of those surveyed had items stolen from their hotel room or villa.

If you have anything stolen, your only protection is insurance. You need to tell the local police immediately and get a crime reference for your travel insurer.


Couriers: pros and cons
Carrying a heavy bag to the airport can be a hassle, especially if you travel by public transport. A courier, on the other hand, offers a door-to-door service. It will pick the bag up from your home and deliver it to your destination – no heavy lifting from you required.

However, there is the matter of timing everything. Bags typically take one to three days to arrive by courier and the more ahead of time you book it, the better.

With a courier you'll need to arrange a collection time that suits you and make sure the bag's ready. Things could get tricky at the other end – if you arrange for the bag to arrive before you do, you'll need to trust the hotel or other accommodation to keep it safe for you. If you get there first and schedule your bag to arrive later, you'll start your holiday without your stuff.

Other options
If you don't fancy using a courier, there are other ways to keep baggage costs down. The obvious one is travel light and take hand luggage only. Invest in some luggage scales that enable you to weigh your bag before you leave home.
But although this might work for a weekend, it's a tough task if you're going on a week-long trip or longer.

Ryanair only lets passengers carry a 10kg bag onto the plane while easyJet limits hand luggage by size – 56 x 45 x 25cm is the maximum.

The most cost-conscious travellers might want to wear their luggage. There are some 'interesting' jackets with numerous pockets on the market. None of them will make it into the fashion pages of Vogue but they will enable you to carry most of your possessions about your person.

Buy your travel insurance before you fly and save - compare prices here

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