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Monday, January 30, 2006

I'm leaving on a jet plane......

Well guys I'm off on business to Europe - fantastic except that anyone who travels on business knows that it ain't a bleedin holiday and if you manage to get out for a good meal with some pleasant company on a trip that is about the height of the excitement. Then of course, there is the never-ending puzzle of what actually constitutes hand luggage with the various airlines, something that can complicate the whole issue.

It seems that Ryanair is fast approaching the point where you will only be welcome to travel with them if you carry just one spare set of underwear but at least they currently have fairly okay cabin baggage allowances (except if you happen to board in an airport where Servisair are checking you in and then they'll practically take out a tape measure to ensure that everything is just so, not a millimeter or gram more or less than the stipulated weights or dimensions!). However some of the more traditional airlines stipulate 5/6kg for hand luggage - which is fine if you are bringing a suitcase as well but if, like me, you want to avoid baggage check-in like an unwanted STD, then you'll only be bringing hand luggage.

Now I specifically bought one of those tiny hand luggage suitcases with a voucher I got for Christmas and when I say tiny, I mean tiny. It was chosen because it says on the label that it conforms to most airline dimension requirements for hand luggage. Working out the dimensions does my head in so I hope the label is right. Anyway, I doubted if I could manage to fit enough clothes in to cover a four night trip but I decided to try yesterday - and I did it! I managed to squeeze the suit, the requisite number of Bridget Jones knickers, some casual wear and a pair of shoes into the thing - in fact I turned it into a veritable tardus! Fantastic!! I had been very careful with the toiletries, packing the bare minimum as I reckon they usually add a fair bit of weight, but despite being very careful the thing still weighs between 9 and 10kg (had to use my bathroom scales so can't be 100% accurate).

Now under 10kg would be fine if I was travelling all the way with Ryanair / Air France or American Airlines but seeing as I have to fly with more than one operator, one of them being British Airways I could be in trouble. My question is how do you pack lightly enough to ensure that your teeny tiny hand luggage bag weighs less than 6kg and still manage to have enough clean clothes for a four night trip???? Answers on a postcard please... I mean the case itself weighs a good percentage of 5kg. So if anyone has the perfect solution as to exactly how little you need bring to be able to bring it as hand luggage please share your secrets.

Out of interest the following are the allowances for a standard economy trip (might be going on business but the company don't fly me business class!!) with various airlines:
  • British Airways 5/6kg (plus any big duty-free bags etc will also count)
  • Aer Lingus 6kg
  • Cityject 7kg
  • British Midlands 7kg + laptop
  • Finnair 8kg
  • Ryanair 10kg
  • Air France 12kg -
  • American Airlines 18kg - the winner!


Kev said...

Hmmm, sounds like a test from the Krypton Factor! In the past when trying to do what you are doing, I have used a multi-compartment rucksack. You know the ones I mean, one section for a laptop, and another section or two for other stuff. The advantage of the rucksack is they are generally lighter than the overnight/hand luggage cases I find (unless you pay a million quid for an ultra-light carbon fibre & titanium mesh carry on case!).

You could also try the old trick of taking a plastic carrier bag with you as well as your "hand luggage" that can get you a kg or 2 past the check in desk. It just depends on how nasty they are being that day.

Past experience of Ryan Air (always been bad for carry on) I managed to get in excess of 10 kg (loads of booze in my ruck and a carrier bag of stuff).

Also, wear the large/heavy items you intend to take if at all possible (or stuff your coat pockets!), after all they don't weigh you....yet! ;-) (yes, I have done that before now!)

Just luck of the draw I suppose!

Hope your trip goes well & is productive!


Omaniblog said...

Lovely question. May a man be permitted an input.

1 Thongs rather than nickers
2 stockings rather than socks
3 wash & condition hair before leaving

that'll save you a few ozs.

Best of all, treat yourself to a new wardrobe via internet and have it delivered to your hotel.
Ask the hotel to keep it for you until you return

Curly K said...

Well I managed to get the suitcase on as handluggage whenever I wanted, although didn't bother on one of the flights as one or two of the others travelling had failed to pack lightly and we all ended up waiting anyway!

Thank you Kev and Paul for your helpful suggestions - just the light relief necessary after 5 and 6am starts all week.

Kev, I have done the auld plastic bag thing although as you say it depends on how nice they are on the day.

Paul, I loved your kind and helpful suggestions but have a few thoughts on them myself:

Thongs - never again! (I'd rather go commando than have to try to surgically remove a thong which is necessary unless you are super skinny like Paris Hilton et al!)

Stockings - not practical when you're a woman who doesn't ever, ever wear skirts or dresses

Wash & condition hair before leaving - did that but would definitely have to do it during the trip although I never carry shampoo - use the hotels but conditioner is essential if like me you have curly hair.