Travel like a pro: 4 tips for taming your carry-on

Planning a vacation is great fun. Packing for that vacation? Not so much – especially if, like many frequent travelers, you prefer to travel light. Next time you pull out that trusty roller bag, streamline your day of travel with these four tips for wrangling your carry-on.

1. Is that really a carry-on?

Make sure you’re familiar with carry-on size limits – what you’re able to fit through a security checkpoint is not necessarily what you’ll be able to fit into an overhead bin.

Be wary of expandable pockets on the front of your suitcase, which can increase the dimensions of your carry-on to the point that it no longer fits into an overhead bin. In Alaska’s new “Space Bins,” this won’t be a problem, but typical overhead bins may give you trouble. Minimize use of expandable pockets, and when in doubt, test your bag in the sizer device at the ticket counter or gate before you board.

2. Wheels down and facing out – unless it’s a Space Bin

Most bins will have a sticker with instructions telling you “wheels out.” For most types of overhead bins, this is easiest, most efficient way to load your bag, preventing wheels from getting stuck on the lip of the bin. If you find yourself on a flight with Alaska’s new, roomier Space Bins, you’ll be instructed to do just the opposite. (Don’t worry – our flight attendants will let you know if you’re on a Space Bin flight, and show you how to position your luggage!) In this case, point them toward the back of the bin and then flip your bag up on its side. You’ll want the heaviest part of the bag to be farthest from the aisle, and belongings tend to settle downward as luggage is wheeled through the airport.

3. Are you sure you can lift that?

Minimalist packing can be a challenge for even the savviest of fliers, and even a carry-on-sized suitcase can quickly become too heavy. For safety reasons, flight attendants are not allowed to assist customers in lifting bags, so make sure you’re not packing a suitcase that is heavier than you can safely lift. If you’re not sure about the weight of your luggage give it the old “refrigerator test” before you leave home: see if you can place your packed suitcase on top of your refrigerator without assistance or pain. If so, you’re ready to fly. Need to lighten your load? Consider eliminating a pair of shoes and lowering your carbon footprint. If every passenger packed just two pounds lighter, we’d save 945,000 gallons of fuel every year. That’s the equivalent of taking 1,716 cars off the road for one year.

4. Are you sure you need to carry on?

Before purging every 4 oz. tube from your bag, ask yourself this: “Do I really need to carry on?” Many frequent travelers feel a greater sense of security knowing their belongings are right overhead, but when you fly Alaska you may want to consider lightening your load when you check in. After all, Alaska pioneered the 20-minute baggage service guarantee. That means we guarantee we’ll have your luggage back in your hands within 20 minutes of your flight’s arrival at the gate– or else we’ll pay up, to the tune of 2,500 Mileage Plan miles or a voucher for $25 off a future flight. You can also streamline your airport arrival by printing your own luggage tags. And don’t forget – your first checked bag is always free with your Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® card.

2 Comments on “Travel like a pro: 4 tips for taming your carry-on

  1. Will the 3 oz liquid rule ever be removed? I will never be able to do a carry on with this limit of 3 oz liquids and one quart bag. 😦

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