Welcome to a weekly feature on the Delta Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.
Delta has had, for a very long time, a really reasonably liberal carry-on policy. A 9x14x22 bag like this Tumi one can really hold quite a bit, plus you still get your “personal item” as well (that can be very big). There are, as I have blogged about before, a great many ways to tweak this to get a large amount of stuff on-board a plane with you for free.
But are there other ways to “try” to get something larger than the approved “size check” size bag on-board? Yes, if you are willing to risk it. What do I mean? Well if you are going to try this, there are some caveats. They are:
- Come to the airport early (maybe REALLY early)
- Know your local TSA folks & TSA Pre✓™
- Watch out for the “hired airline goons”
- Be ready to go to another line (even concourse)
- Pick a regional airport
- Pay if you must as a final step!
OK, full on game mode, what are we talking about? The TSA is not an enforcement arm of the airlines. The TSA web site says:
“TSA will screen any “Carry-on” baggage that will fit through the x-ray machine; however, it is up to each individual air carrier as to whether the baggage fits the size restrictions for your flight.”
And that takes us to the second point. I reached out to the TSA press secretary Ross Feinstein as to just how large a bag will fit into a TSA x-ray and was told they can accommodate large bags and they can vary by airport but the opening is at least 24″ wide by 16″ high.
Then we are on to our local TSA folks & Pre✓™. Again, out of 54 flight segments this year (or my 100+ last year) I don’t think I have ever had a rep say BOO about my bag sizes. It is not their job after all – safety is. They defer to the airline for size requirements.
So on to the “goon squad”. What is that you ask? Since I am not the only one to figure out that checking in online and going right to TSA is a good way to avoid bag fees, the airlines often hire non-company folks to “guard the gate” and send you back to check-in to pay for the too big bag. Now if you are a medallion, and want to push it, I have had reps walk over and “block the goon” and allow me to proceed (wow, was that fun). But don’t bank on this one.
What else can you do if you are blocked? Simple, if you are at a large enough airport, go to another TSA line where there is no goon. You may even have to change to another concourse as many times once you are through security you can connect back to another terminal; not always but many times this is the case. You see why it is good to arrive early!
Another option is avoiding the major hubs. I know for many this is just not an option but for others you can pick many smaller airports where the TSA is happy to let you bring just about anything you want through security (size wise I mean). You will end up on a CRJ many times and will have to at the least plane side check it or they are often just as happy to print a tag to check it all the way for you for free!
Is it worth it? I guess it depends on what a few minutes extra of your time is worth to try these little gems to avoid giving $25, $35 or MUCH more per person, each way, of your hard earned money to the airline. Oh, and if you really don’t want to carry the bag, I have never ever seen Delta charge to check your bag once you do get to the gate. Just walk up and ask if the flight is full and you can go ahead and check your bag for free instead of taking up overhead bin space!- René
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.