Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Air Passengers Start Wearing Their Luggage

Scottevest SeV Chloe Hoodie
MSNBC: In an effort to avoid checked baggage fees, many passengers now try to pack everything they’ll need for a trip into carry-on bags that can fit into an airplane's overhead bins.

For now, most domestic airlines don’t charge for carry-on bags or for coats, purses and other small personal items. But few travelers would be surprised if more airlines began following the lead of Spirit, Ryanair and some other budget airlines, which do charge fees for carry-ons.

It may already be — unofficially — happening. In what George Hobica, founder of travel website Airfarewatchdog.com, terms a “relatively new trend,” some airlines are getting aggressive about weighing carry-on bags.

“Hawaiian has a 25-pound weight limit and actually weighs bags at the gate, snatching away bags that weigh more and charging a checked bag fee,” said Hobica. “EVA Airways has a 15-pound limit, and several other airlines have limits as well. It's touted as a safety precaution, of course, but it's also a sneaky way of extracting fees for carry-ons.”

For passengers not willing to take a chance at getting dinged with a last-minute charge, there’s another option: wearing your luggage.

At the San Francisco-based chain of Edwards Luggage stores, co-owner Randy MacKenzie said the line of iPad-compatible vests, hoodies, jackets and trench coats from SCOTTEVEST, each with between 20 and 30 built-in pockets and compartments, is a big hit in the “luggage you can wear” category.

"We started selling the SCOTTEVEST two years ago and we've sold hundreds. The product continues to resonate with travelers as it becomes more and more challenging to get through airport security and important to utilize valuable packing space."

For parents trying to carry both a baby and a bulging diaper bag, the convertible Go-Go Babyz “Sidekick” is a diaper bag that doubles as a wearable baby carrier.

And then there’s the Jaktogo, a carry-on bag that can be worn as a coat. (Other versions include the Dresstogo and the Ponchotogo.)

Invented by John Power, an Irish-born engineer who was determined to find a way around carry-on limits imposed by the budget carriers he frequents in Europe, the Jaktogo has 14 various-sized pockets designed to hold more than 30 pounds of clothing, gadgets and gear.

“It’s certainly not a fashionable item you’d wear around town,” said Power. “And we won’t be showing it off in Paris or Milan. It’s ‘boarding-gate’ clothing that’s all about practicality and thriftiness.”

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