Few moments are more frustrating during travel than when the baggage carousel stops and you realize your bag didn’t make it.
While mobile tracking helps airlines make sure that your checked luggage arrives at your destination safely and on time, it is still a far from perfect system. During the second half of 2021, approximately 1.25 million bags were mishandled by U.S. airlines out of 220 million checked bags, according to LuggageHero, a luggage storage company. That’s about six out of every 1,000 bags that are mishandled (meaning delayed, damaged, lost, or stolen). It’s a high enough figure that some travelers might wonder if there’s another—better—option.
Enter: luggage shipping services.
In recent years, a number of baggage shipping companies have sprung up, offering a potentially attractive alternative for travelers, especially those who don’t care for the hassle of lugging bags through busy airports. Some even compete with airlines in terms of cost, especially if you’re aiming to ship multiple bags. While most U.S.-based airlines charge $30 or $35 for your first bag, the prices increase significantly with additional parcels. For example, on United, the first bag per customer is $35, then $45 for a second, $15o for a third, and $200 for a fourth. Shipping companies, however, offer the same price per bag, no matter how many you choose to send.
Luggage shipping companies also offer additional services like at-home pickup and drop-off and taking bulkier items (like golf clubs, ski equipment, or bicycles). Here are 10 luggage shipping companies that can help travelers get their bags from A to Z, minus the fuss.
Cost: $89 for a 25 lb. bag; $99 for 50 lb. bag; $149 for 75 lb. bag. Also, $89 for standard skis or snowboards; $99 for a standard golf bag; $189 for a bicycle case for five business day shipping.
This Boston-based company ships luggage domestically and in more than 200 countries worldwide, but it specializes in shipping to cruise ships (meaning the bag will be in the passengers stateroom on embarkation) around the world. Luggage Forward’s prices include doorstep pickup and delivery (from your home or office to your hotel or cruise ship and back), 24-hour phone support, insurance (that covers lost and damaged items), shipping labels that are mailed to clients, and an on-time delivery guarantee that promises a full refund and up to $500 in additional expense reimbursement if the bags don’t make it by the quoted date.
UPS, FedEx, and DHL
Cost: $50-$75 for suitcases under 50 pounds; $100 for a 70-pound bag, all with four-day ground shipping.
Of course, traditional shipping companies, like, UPS, FedEx, and DHL, can get your bag to your destination, too. However, don’t expect the same amenities as boutique operators that specialize in sending luggage. You’ll still have to drop your suitcase (either as is or boxed) at one of their shipping centers or schedule a one-time pickup several days before you leave, but at least you’ll receive a tracking number so that you can follow your items along in their journey.
Cost: Prices are the cheapest within Europe, starting at £20 ($25 at current exchange rates), for bags up to 30 kg. (66 lb.). From the U.S. to Europe, expect prices to begin at £109 ($135 at current exchange rates) depending on the destination.
SendMyBag, a U.K.-based shipping service, is a solid choice for those traveling within Europe—in many cases, its rates are cheaper than airlines (shipping from the U.K. to Spain, for example, is just £35, or $43 at current exchange rates, for a 24 kg.—or 53 lb.—bag).
It’s also a good option for those moving to a new country, either long-term or for a study abroad semester, as the company provides users with all the information and forms they need for the bags to make it through customs hassle free (a process that can be challenging to navigate on one’s own).
Travelers just need to print their labels and schedule a day for pickup, either from their home, dorm, or office. From there SendMyBag collects it and gets it to your next address. Most bags are delivered within four business days.
Cost: Prices start at $30 and go up from there based on how far your luggage will be traveling and the overall weight.
This New York City-based budget-friendly shipping service ships around the world. The company is able to ship everything from suitcases to boxes to sporting equipment. What makes LuggageToShip unique is that they offer free storage—they’ll hang onto any item for up to six months (after that it’s $10 per month). It’s convenient for those who don’t have extra space around the house for big items like ski gear.
Cost: Prices vary depending on the services selected. Some examples include $219 for a 50 lb. bag shipped from New York City to Los Angeles, $280 for a bag shipped from the U.S. to Hong Kong, $499 for a bag shipped from the U.S. to South Africa.
If you’re looking for white-glove service (and are willing to pay a premium for it), New York City-based Luggage Free is a good option. All you have to do is pack your bag, and they’ll take care of pickup and drop-off, shipping labels, and customs forms.
Luggage Free ships between 150 countries and has guaranteed on-time delivery. If, for some reason, your bag doesn’t make it on the designated day, they’ll waive the fee. There’s also a complimentary insurance policy on every shipment, up to $500 for loss or damage.
Cost: Prices start as low as $15 but increase based on bag size and weight, distance traveled, and optional extras.
This luggage shipping service, based in Boston, offers some rates that are comparable to what the airlines charge for checked bags if travelers are willing to send their suitcases off five or six days in advance of their departure and receive them five or six days after their return. Prices for LugLess are calculated based on the size of the bag, how far it’s going, and how fast you want it—with that in mind, sending one 50 lb. bag using the company’s slowest service costs between $15 and $50 (within the continental U.S.). The quicker you want the bags sent and the more service you want with those bags—such as optional doorstep pickup and drop-off (versus dropping the luggage off at a UPS location), insurance, customer support, and refundability—the more the price goes up. It’s worth noting that LugLess doesn’t offer international shipping.
Cost: The service starts at £15 ($18.50 at current exchange rates) per bag.
While not quite a shipping company, London-based AirPortr offers a check-in service, which involves collecting passengers’ bags from their home, office, or hotel and checking them at select U.K. and Switzerland airports. AirPortr says the service is intended to free up passengers who want to move around the city without their bags before their flight as well as to assist families trying to manage the transport of children and bags, sports travelers hauling equipment, and elderly or reduced-mobility passengers unable to carry their bags. Airportr recommends scheduling your pick-up for the day before your flight.
Cost: Starts at $35 and may increase based on how far your luggage will be traveling and the overall weight.
ShipGo, headquartered in West Palm Beach, Florida, will pick up bags from your home, business, or hotel and have them delivered to a destination of your choosing in more than 180 countries (including some fairly remote locales, like Fiji, Bangladesh, and Seychelles). Travelers can schedule the shipment date online and then attach the provided shipping labels. ShipGo offers an on-time delivery guarantee, free insurance on every shipment (that covers loss or damage), and real-time tracking.
Michelle Baran contributed reporting to this article.