Once again it is almost time for me to head west on my return to the East; so, number crunching commences. Airline baggage regulations and fees seem to change every few months now, requiring a carrier of many things to be forward thinking. On this trip, I am hoping to empty the remaining items from my rental storage unit. Ideally, I would like to sort through all my remaining items and:
- sell unwanted items which are generally valuable
- sell items which are easy to replace in Japan (especially heavy ones)
- give away items that friends or family would likely use
- donate items charities would likely use
- throw away items of no particular long-term value
- take anything left to Japan (e.g., expensive, hard to replace, useful)
Unfortunately in my first five days, I was prevented from accessing the unit and all that sorting, selling, giving, discarding, and packaging takes time. Most likely I will be shipping more to Japan than wanted and sorting there; however, the airlines want money for each bag shipped. Here’s a few things I learned (for NWA from US to Asia) about that:
- there is no apparent weight limit on carry-on bags! (22x14x9″)
- you can carry a lot of other stuff on board
- in addition to a carry-on bag, a backpack is OK (15x11x6″)
- two bags under 50 pounds can be checked for free
- if the free bags exceed 50 pounds they incur a $50 fee, but can’t exceed 70 pounds
- extra bags under 70 pounds are $150
- extra bags up to 100 pounds are OK… at $450 each
Rule 1: put heaviest items into carry-on and backpack. Remember this requires you toting a lot of weight around, so there is a physical cost you may not want to pay.
Rule 2: never pack a bag over 70 pounds! Three 70 pounders add up to 210 pounds for the same cost as a 71 pound bag. Clearly they are strongly discouraging the shipping of large bags and promoting the financial oppression of people with poor math skills.
Rule 3: don’t pack three 46 pound bags for a $150 excess bag fee, when you could pack two 69 pound bags for $100 in overweight baggage fees.
Rule 4: if you are checking two 48 pound bags and two 68 pound bags – even if the heavy bags are your normal luggage and the light bags are (excess-baggage-looking) shipping boxes – check the light ones as the free bags. The natural psychological action would be to go on appearance, running up a bill of $400 vs. $300.
When I arrive in Japan with several extra bags, I will take advantage of a wonderful service. At my airport (NGO), immediately after exiting customs, we have a shipping company who will send my bags to my home. The cost is reasonable, and the convenience is incredible. Because we travel by train, bus, boat, and taxi so much, there are many services related to getting our stuff to our destination.
Well, enough talk… I better go start planning.