This is for LIFESTYLE hacks, not geeky tech stuff (that goes in the Tech section). This is about bending the world around you in ways it was not intended for, gaming systems, and doing end-runs around bureaucratic stupidity. Nothing illegal, just stuff nobody thought to make illegal yet.
Oftentimes after spending a while overseas, luggage becomes strangely heavier on the return trip. Be generous & get rid of anything you don’t need to take with you, know your limits, use your travel scale, and get well under the weight limit if you can. It’s best not to need what I’m about to reveal, but…well, sometimes you do.
Below are some travel hacks you might find useful. These are just for the airport security shuffle, and only when you are less than 5% under or up to 10% over of the allocated weight limits.
Know the places you will be weighed
This may vary for different countries, but for anyplace I’ve ever traveled (North America, South America, Europe, & Australasia), it’s been pretty consistent. On an international flight you will usually be weighed in at 3 different places:
- Airline ticketing counter
This is where you leave your checked luggage after it has been weighed. They will weigh your carry-on if it looks like they need to, but generally not as a rule. You can avoid giving the impression that your carry-on bag is heavy taking it off and putting it at your feet when you approach the counter, and keeping the thinest angle toward the agent when you show it to them. If you hunch over or shift your weight to pick it up, it looks heavier and they will weigh it.
- Customs security checkpoint
This is where you get your official exit form, fill it out, and wait in line so they can weigh your carry-on luggage. Airline officials usually handle this, and they will enforce their policies. Very often you can avoid this line completely by going through an airport lounge entryway. Do you look like you might just belong in the elite members-only area? Then you can likely make it to the elevator before someone asks for your membership card if you’re quick about it. Of course if you really are an elite member, go ahead and use your perk.
- Gate security checkpoint
This is where they scan you to make sure you don’t have a bomb anything else you shouldn’t. This is manned by general airport security and they are not in the business of enforcing policy for individual airlines. They really don’t care what you have where as long as it doesn’t look dangerous.
Note that your stuff is NOT weighed when arriving at the airport nor when boarding the plane, and no point are you (the passenger) weighed. This means you can reshuffle before, after, and in-between the 3 rounds of security.
Here are 5 of ways of gaming the system that I have used successfully in the past. Use at your own risk, of course.
- The Clothes Hack
Make an exception to your standard travel wardrobe and wear the heaviest things in your suitcase. No matter the weather, break out your boots, that warm coat, jeans instead of shorts, etc. Remember you can always change in the bathroom after arriving at the airport but before checking in, then again when you are waiting at your gate.
- The Pocket Hack
Wear clothes with good pockets, and fill them as much as you can without drawing attention. The best things to stuff in your pockets are anything small and dense. Phones/iDevices, hard drives, power adapters, small books, jewelry, souvenirs, etc. are all good candidates. Remember that you have done this as you will have to empty these out prior to security screening.
- The Hand-Carry Hack
You can often carry something in your hand like a book without it getting counted as a separate item. So that big, thick guidebook for the country you’re leaving? Don’t pack it, keep it handy until you’re through security. If you’re playing it close, every ounce counts!
- The Coat-Carry Hack
A combination of the above three hacks is to use large coat with pockets that zip or snap shut as you can stuff the crap out of the pockets, take it off and it often won’t count as a separate carry on item. If it does count as a separate item (such as on SwissAir flights), it will be noted in the baggage policy you made a copy of when you booked your flight. You can even buy a coat specially designed for this task if you wanna get all crazy about it.
- The Duty-Free Hack
You know how they always make you walk through all the booze, candy, & perfume to get to your gate? Guess what, none of that stuff counts toward your weight limit. So buy something. Preferably something that comes with a BIG BAG that says “DUTY FREE” on it (or you can just ask the cashier for a large bag). Then, stuff anything that you don’t want to be wearing or have in your pockets or hands or coat anymore into the bottom of the bag. Put your duty free item on top. You just got yourself an extra carry-on. Now board the plane and go find someplace in the overhead storage compartment to put it.
Remember, if you’re trying something like this and it doesn’t work, “Sorry” trumps “Right” every time.