Your palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy. You’re wearing eight sweaters already, feeling heady.
Ahh, the exquisite stress of attempting to smuggle more than your fair share of kilograms onboard an Australian domestic flight. It’s enough to make you stoop to such lows as tweaking of the opening lyrics to Eminem’s 2002 hit Lose Yourself (my intimate knowledge of which, I appreciate, ages me very quickly).
The swift passage through check-in, the chance to skip the insanity of the baggage carousel, the simple thrill of travelling light – there is plenty to love about a journey made with little more than your hand luggage. Here, with tongue firmly in cheek, we take a look at how you can beat the system and fly smugly in the knowledge that you saved 15 entire dollars in check-in fees.
1. Layer Up
“Could I be wearing any more clothes?” You know the scene. The one where Joey puts on the entire contents of Chandler’s wardrobe. If you’re not a fan of the US sitcom, Friends, the reference might be lost on you, but it’s worth a special screening because Joey’s Michelin-man look is going to get you from A to B, no excess baggage charges in sight.
Let’s start with underwear. Three pairs, minimum. Bras? You can manage a couple of those, right? You too, boys. There’s gotta be a boob-owning traveller in your life who could use some help. Singlet, T-shirt or button-down? All of the above, obviously. A jumper next. Two if you’re game. And if your comically rotund arms can manage it, throw on a jacket for good measure. Pants are tough to layer, for sure. But leggings followed by jeans followed by shorts, et voila, you’ve got three lower layers and a wearable sauna to boot. Days away = sock count. It’s simple maths. And shoes? Well, just one pair I’m afraid, but make ‘em your heaviest.
Now you’re ready to stride on to that plane carrying little more than your keys, phone and wallet. And you’ll look damn fine doing so.
2. Ride on Coattails
Skip the layers and invest in one key piece with enough storage to make Howard blush. The multi-pocketed bomber jacket from BauBax, for example, includes a built-in eye mask, an inflatable neck pillow and footrest, and many other handy (and, arguably, not-so-handy) accessories.
Unfortunately, a 2017 Kickstarter campaign, which aimed to fund a multifunctional and stylish travel jacket, fell short of its $100,000 target. The Airport Jacket, an Aussie invention, would have been capable of storing up to 15 kg of carry-on luggage with its 14 deep pockets and two detachable ‘pocket panels’.
3. Give Good Flex
Okay, you’ve managed to squeeze 74 kg into a 56- by 36- by 23 cm carry-on bag. Not sure why you need all that uranium, but you do you. Now, are you ready to give the performance of your life? I’m talking Joaquin-Phoenix-as-Joker-type commitment.
This is your time to shine. Lift that bag as if it is as light as a feather. Supress your grimace, swallow your groans, release your tension. This is a cakewalk. And you are the baker.
4. Soften the Blow
Opt for a hard-shell carry-on bag and you’ll lose a couple of kilograms of your allowance before you’ve even packed a thing. Opt for a soft duffle bag and you’re not only starting light, you’ve introduced the power of illusion. The trick is to refrain from packing your duffle until it’s bursting at the seams.
If that means upping your duffle size, so be it. You are going for the floppy look. The look that says, ‘What? This empty thing?’ How you present as the carrier of said duffle bag is going to help here, too. Please see ‘Give Good Flex’ for further advice.
5. Run and Hide
If you know you’re stretching the friendship with an overweight carry-on bag, the last place you want to be hanging out before take-off is your gate. Grab a coffee, browse the shops, take 45 minutes choosing the right book – just don’t put yourself in the line of sight of the baggage police (aka airline staff). But you need to suss out the situation first. Some airlines require passengers to pass through a weighing station before boarding and hiding can’t help you in this situation. Other airlines tag the bags they have weighed and approved. There is some hope here, but little. The later you arrive at the gate, the better your chances of slipping through the cracks. But this method ain’t fool-proof. You have been warned.