World Fantasy is this week and, like everyone else (I’m pretty sure), I am focused on the most important question related to the con: Should I check my bag or carry it on the plane with me?

I used to be airplane guy.  (There was no silly spandex costume involved – sorry.)  Had a job that required a lot of travel so I was one of those people with the roller bag & the laptop case who would breeze through the airport with practiced ease.  I knew my way around Midway, Nashville, Atlanta & Tampa airports like the back of my hand.  I always got there early, always boarded first (well, mostly boarded first), always got the good seats in the emergency row (WAY more leg room) and, of course, I carried everything with me and never, ever checked anything.

But now we have all this security stuff to deal with.  There’s stuff you can carry on, stuff you can’t.  Stuff that can only be so many ounces, stuff that needs to be inspected.  There’s always a better than average possibility that if you carry your stuff on the plane, someone in the security checkpoints is not only gonna go through your bag, they’re gonna see your underwear.

Note to self – buy new underwear before trip to World Fantasy.

I love the convenience of being able to grab my shit, walk off the plane and right onto the shuttle or whatever transportation I’m going to arrange-

Note to self – arrange some transportation to the hotel, dumbass.

-and not have to mess with baggage claim.  But everything has a flip-side and in this case, it’s going through security in the first place.  I mean, I’m bringing my podcast mic – can I carry that on the plane with me?  Will they reject it and say I have to toss it?  What about the external drive I was considering bringing?  How many ounces of toothpaste is considered weapons grade toothpaste?!

There’s probably a website or something I can check to answer these questions.

OH, and – there’s the new thing where the airlines charge you for each bag.  What. The. Fuck.  Seriously?  You people have screwed up your business model so badly that now not only do you charge me for my ticket but bags are extra?!

It’s sad when you realize that it is ALMOST BUT NOT QUITE CHEAPER to travel without any luggage whatsoever and hit a WalMart at your destination for a couple shirts, some undies and whatnot all versus checking and paying for your bag.

Yeah.  That’s where we’ve gotten ourselves?

I want my damned flying car…

Oh.  Yeah… Your thoughts?  Check it or carry on?  YOU DECIDE!



  • Jay Garmon Posted October 25, 2010 12:03 pm

    My advice: Continue to not check bags.

    I make regular travels to Boston from Louisville — for which there is no direct flight — and I manage to it carry-on only. The trick is to have a bag — and a packing style — that let you *quickly* unpack a two key items at security:

    * Your laptop
    * Liquid toiletries (shampoo, toothpaste, etc.)

    Technically, you’re not supposed to have more than 5, 3-oz items of liquid in your carry-on. I’ve not seen this strictly enforced. The inviolable rule is that all your liquid bottles must fit in a single 1-quart ziploc bag. Since pretty much every hotel offers shampoo, this is an easy compliance even for a guy like me that needs shaving cream and contact solution. Just keep the ziploc in an outer pocket that you can remove during x-ray scans and you’re gold. Same goes for the laptop.

    So far as the podcast mic, I think you’re more in danger of having it crushed by the guy trying shove a two-ton bag into the overhead bin than your are to have a problem with security. I’ve passed through checkpoints with a safety razor, a laptop power supply, a Skype headset, an iPod and two thumbdrives still in my carry-on. No problem.

    The bigger pain in the neck is getting ME through security. I make it a habit to leave my keyring in my car and only carry my car key when traveling (why do I need my house key on the road?), and to pack that key in my carry-on. That’s one less item to lose when I empty my pockets for the metal detector. Same goes for my money clip, and why I don’t usually wear a belt when I travel. Slip-on shoes are also a must. These rules don’t change even if you check your bags.

    Besides, given how often airlines have lost mine or my family’s bags, I don’t trust them with anything valuable or irreplaceable. I’d rather have the hassle at the security checkpoint BUT STILL HAVE MY LAPTOP than risk a crushed, stolen or missing computer when I arrive. Especially considering that all checked bags are routinely rifled through, and there’s no reason not to expect your that someone could retain your tech — podcast mic included — for their personal collection. At least in the carry-on you know where it is.

    Bottom line: Keep the carry-on. Just pack correctly, and pay to board the plane first. That way you actually CAN store it in the overhead rather than be forced to valet-check it at the gate. That’s the worst of both worlds.

  • Jaym Gates Posted October 26, 2010 1:48 pm

    Y’know, if you’re really worried about someone seeing your underwear in security, there’s an easy answer: don’t take any!

    And then make sure you pat yourself–vocally–on the back for it at every dinner, professional meeting, etc. People appreciate genius.

    What? I’m just looking out for your best interests!

    • Patrick Hester Posted October 26, 2010 9:25 pm

      But, you see – there’s this thing about going commando where it’s sexy for women, gross for men…

      At least, that’s what I’ve heard… 😛

      Sorry for not approving this comment quicker – email from my site is being blocked by google, which is annoying…

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