Airlines from U.S to Europe. Share your experiences
Tell me about the good, the bad and the worse.
Suggestion about which TB bag(s) to bring is welcomed!
It's tough for me...
It's really funny you just posted this thread. I thought about posting a similar thread because at this very moment, I'm in Italy (the beautiful Lake Como area) for a conference. Rough life, but somebody's got to do it! :-) Actually, if you remember, I posted some threads a few months ago and well, I'm finally here. This is actually our second longish trip to Europe. Here's my take on this one:
1. My wife and I were planning to take our Aeronauts, and me my ID bag and her the Imago.
2. The catch - I'm going on business and so need to bring promotional literature and give aways (USB keys with our university logo). Shipping it via courier would cost over $200 Cdn - not very cost effective.
3. After much effort, we could NOT fit everything into the Aeronauts. We only had 2 or 3 items of highly packable and washable items each. However, a big item was an extra pair of shoes each. I needed a decent pair for the conference that could do double duty as a walking shoe, and a more durable pair for handling the old Roman cobblestones.
4. We were flying Lufthansa which has an 18 lb. carry on maximum, plus a personal item (e.g., laptop bag). From a Rick Steve's forum, it seemed that Lufthansa might actually weigh the carry on.
5. After much additional effort, we decided to go with the two bags each, and one checked-in bag (MEC) with wheels. I know, I know... wheels aren't great, but otherwise there would just be too many bags to haul around by hand. The bag is biggish wheeled duffle - not packed full but heavy enough to pose a potential problem. So five bags in total (4 on our person, 1 to check).
6. We cross the border and check into Detroit Metro... and Lufthansa asked to see and weigh EVERY carry on of every person checking in, even those in business class. They didn't ask about your "personal" item which was just as well as I would have been probably over the limit with the laptop and accessories. I took out my jacket from my Aeronaut just in case. You might be able to redistribute things to your personal item for the check in part.
7. Most airlines allow about a 20 lb or 22 lb limit. The 2 to 4 lbs extra make a BIG difference. Weigh carefully - my wife's Aeronaut was 19 lbs and they made her "redistribute".
8. Got on board, checked luggage made it fine, but it was a pain to take the bus in Como (Italy).
a. Miniaturize whatever you can. I have my dSLR and I don't regret it. The scenery is drop dead gorgeous. However, I could probably go for a smaller, lighter, cheaper netbook or even UMPC. Heck, even a really good PDA if you don't need to do much might work.
b. Wear whatever you can - jacket, get a Scott Evest, etc. because it's unlikely they'll weigh *you*. (Tough to do in the summer admittedly.)
c. If you're going for several reasons (e.g., work), be prepared to check in one item because of the additional volume, but apply the same packing principles - go as light and as small as possible for a check-in to make sure it's easy to handle at your destination.
d. If you do go for business and need to hand out things, bring the smallest possible literature - paper weighs a ton and takes up a lot of space. Yes, I know we can direct people to websites, but it's always nice and professional to hand out "something".
e. Don't skimp on shoes: take the best pair possible or bring an extra pair. You'll be on them every day and your trip could be miserable with cold, wet, or tired feet. It's even worth a checked bag.
f. Put your hotel destination on your checked bag just in case - it could be a long way to your arrival point for your bag.
g. If your bigger (checked in) bag is substantial, forget the public transit and be prepared to pay a few dollars for the convenience and peace of mind for a taxi.
h. Rig up your TB bags so that they can slung over the extendable handle of your checked carry on and stay properly placed when walking.
Yes, I remember your thread and as a result I am going to rush to search...
Kidding aside, I haven't flown internationally since the "security restrictions". I also think that soaring fuel prices have something to do with weight limit.
I don't know when exactly we would be flying but winter and spring in western Europe would mean cold weather and more layers.
It would be a family visit only, but, as you know, Europeans are more formal and we cannot get away with heavy sweats as our only outfits.
I think we can get away with the layered look of different color tees and sweaters or cardigans on top.
Cold weather pants are a problem, as corduroy and velvet are really heavy.
I know that cotton or other light weight fabric are not warm enough.
(I'll be checking Travelsmith and the other places specializing on travelers clothing mentioned on the forum)
Thanks for sharing I really appreciate it.
So Lufthansa is a stickler for weight, it is very good to know, thanks for the info.
IMHO, is not that Europeans are more formal, but that
Americans are slobs.
My God, have you ever been to Paris and observed how
I'm talking Paris, France, not Paris, Texas!!!
So... I'm back from my Italy trip. My earlier points still stand I think. Luckily, my checked luggage made it through unscathed, and even more astonishingly, I got few hassles landing back in the US and then transiting to Canada. Strangely enough, I've generally found US customs when flying to be more "polite" (as polite as they can get) than some of my own customs people on the Canadian side. Land travel seems to be reversed.
Bottom line: having only carry on would have reduced our anxiety of clearing customs and waiting around for the luggage to appear before our transfer flight.
As for Lufthansa, when we checked in Italy for the return flight, we did NOT get asked to weigh our carry ons. I think we had a big checked bag and that was enough for the agent to think that our carry ons would be light enough (I'm sure they were). Also, I had a minor problem with my frequent flyer program and this was irritating (or perhaps distracting) enough to keep the agent preoccupied?
On a final note, to all those who suggested I bring a wide angle lens.... absolutely! Italy was just too scenic. Can't believe how picturesque some places were. It was a great trip.
Here's my most recent experiences: Lufthansa in Seattle weighed my main carryon but not my "personal item." (I had no checked bag, so perhaps they were skeptical...) Austrian Air didn't weigh my bags, but at Dulles they had a sizer in the hallway leading up to the jetway and they had someone stationed to stop people whose bag looked too large and made them "size" them. Haha--the Western Flyer made it with ease!
Not European, but Air New Zealand is even more of a stickler for weight than Lufthansa--7 kilos! And they weighed my Western Flyer in Wellington, and again in Auckland on the same route! Also, they're very strict on the "personal item"--on the website they show a nice slim briefcase as passing, but a bulging computer case as not passing as a personal item. At least they don't weigh them! I'm going to be flying Singapore Air in a couple of weeks and will report on their policies when I get back.
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