Seven Deadly Sins of Air Travel Passengers

I don’t usually link to the same site twice in a week, but FareCompare has its list of seven no-nos for air travelers that I think are pretty spot on (

Some of the things on the list are kind of silly (“don’t drool on your neighbor”), but on the top of the list? Not packing lightly. Here’s what the list says:

“There’s a lesson in that for all of us: pack right, and pack light. And use a carryon—this one simple act can save a family of four $200 on a flight. And if you must check a bag, keep it under 50 lbs—the overweight bag fees are a killer.”

By the way, my mom, on her recent trip to Japan, went nuts buying an entire suitcase full of second-hand books (Japanese books are, as you can imagine, more expensive in the U.S.). She was giddy at saving so much money, but it turns out a suitcase full of books weighs more than 50 pounds. She wound up having to pay a huge overweight bag fee, so she didn’t save nearly as much money as she initially thought.

Number 4 on the list is also appropriate: Don’t be a “bin hog.” Hey look, exactly what I was talking about. Here’s what the list says:

“We’ve all seen these bin hogs, who take up way more than their share of a plane’s overhead compartment bag space. My two biggest pets peeves involve people who  pull your carefully folded blazer out of the bin to make room for their own things, then stuff it back in, rendering the jacket completely unwearable—and those who try to jam too-big bags into too-small spaces, knowing that a flight attendant will remove and check the bag, at no charge to them.

“Mostly what I hate is how long it takes the bin hogs to get themselves situated, time that could be spent getting us to our destination, with an on-time arrival.”

The point?

  • Be a “traveliter” – packing lightly so you only have to take your carry-on.
  • Don’t be a “traveloader” – overstuffing your carry-on or using too big a bag as your carry-on and knowingly abuse the system.


  1. What about the passenger who boards through the front, deposits in the bins in first class and then proceeds to the back of the plane?

  2. I love traveling lite whenever I can. However, international airlines have a weight limit on carry-on baggage: typically 7 to 8 kgs (approx. 15-17 pounds), including the weight of the luggage itself (of course). I’m convinced that my toiletries alone weigh 15-17 pounds. I would love to know how anyone is meeting the carry-on weight limits for travel on international airlines. Keep in mind that meds (Rx and OTC) have to be in original containers. Adventure travel has its own unique challenges: insect repellent,mosquito netting, first aid kit, binoculars, etc. (I’m leaving for Egypt and Jordan tomorrow.)

  3. @Lynnece — If you haven’t had a chance, take a quick look at my earlier entry, called “The Ultra-minimalist packing list: How I packed for Europe” ( In it, I discuss in great detail how both my husband and I managed to travel with less than 13 pounds each for our carry-ons for a flight on Virgin Atlantic.

    One thing I discovered when we traveled to Costa Rica last fall, was that many of the things we thought we had to have with us (specifically, a ton of insect repellant) were very readily available when we got there. Turns out, the local folks also don’t like to get bit by bugs, either!

    The key to traveling ultralite is to pare down even your normal travelite packing list. For example, I usually wind up decanting almost every liquid item into smaller lighter containers (for example, my recent week-long trip to Istanbul had me taking just an ounce of really good hair conditioner that I knew I could just use a touch of). Pills of any sort got taken out of their bottles and moved into tiny resealable plastic baggies I bought at the pharmacy counter at the local drugstore. I just made sure to peel off the prescription label from my bottle to the baggy, etc.

    First aid kits are nice and compact, but they often also include way too much stuff. Take it down to just the stuff you tend to use on your trips: Ibuprofen for achy backs, acetaminophen for headaches, Band-Aid for blisters, and maybe a couple of tiny packets of ointment. Those are often enough for you to manage your initial first aid needs; the rest you can get from a local store.

    You’re right, though. Specialized travel (be it adventure, sports, or other type of travel) often includes specialized gear. If you have to take a lot of things, you can always consider mailing the items in advance, or at least separating those items into a separate bag so that you still have your primary travel needs (underwear, regular clothes) in your main carry-on.

    One more thing; you would be surprised to be able to pack a lot of stuff into a large purse. Airlines rarely make a fuss about the weight of your purse, so consider putting your toiletry bag and various whatnots in your purse. If you don’t want to carry a regular purse, consider a shoulder bag or smaller daypack (worn over one shoulder) that gives the impression as your purse.

    Finally, batten down the hatches. If you are using a soft-sided carry-on, you will bring less attention to it if it isn’t completely bulging at the seams. Put everything into reseable (Ziploc) baggies, and take out the extra air.

    Good luck on your trip, and have a wonderful time! Egypt and Jordan sounds like a total blast!

  4. I agree with Lani. We have gone on 3-4 wk International trips and found we can pack an extra sweater by paring down misc items. Cosmetics 15-17 lbs??? I found at Ulta or Sephora, or drugstores, one small compact with 24 eyeshadows. Okay,so they aren’t the BIG name brands, but only you will know that. They also may have a blush or two. Buy or get samples of loose powder in small plastic jar (1-1/2 inch diameter); take 2 or 3, throw empty ones away. Transfer face moisturizer/sun screen from a large tube or jar into smaller one from older empty plastic jars; throw away when empty. I found travel size eye and face brushes and I try to take just two liners and 1 mascara. I’ve pared down my cosmetic bag quite a bit with the adjustment in size and quantity. I use a blue shampoo for my white hair, and I found the smallest bottle from a previous sample and take an ounce or two of this to use with my regular sample size shampoo. Between the two of these, my shampoo is less than the 3 ounces,even if I do have to declare it.

    For OTC meds, someone always passes along a bug they picked up on the plane. We used to carry btls of kaopectate, cough med, etc. All this comes now in tablet or gel form on a card type stock; usually the name of item (immodium, gas-x, claritin, cough supp etc ) is on the back so you can throw away the box. Prescription meds we do exactly like Lani said. I can’t always take the script label off the bottle, so we mark on the small baggie the name of the drug and carry a list of medication with the name, doctor’s name, name of drug (generic and brand name), color of pill or bottle (eye drops), and shape. We cut down the number of vitamins to the essential, if we take any at all, to multi and Vit C, and calcium since 3 weeks-1 month is too long for me to go without it. I only put in my personal bag enough on the plane for 2 days and the rest in the overhead carry-on bag.
    For clothes, I found light or medium weight acrylic sweaters is better to launder by hand as it dries faster, than cotton and waiting 2 days for it to dry. We are going to cold weather clime with rain, fog, wind. I’m taking 2 pair cuddle duds to wear under jeans or heavier nice athletic gear (velour), rather than taking 6 pairs of pants, I can take 4. Cuddle duds dry faster than jeans or knit pants and it stretches the number of days I can wear the pants–wear 3 different pairs for 3 days, then switch back to pair number 1. If you’re going to colder climes it’s easy to do that; but if to warm climes, you’ll be taking shorts anyway, and they are lighter than jeans. The cuddle duds keep the pants cleaner on the outside and still be fresh. My husband bought poly/cotton underwear that washes and dries overnight; I take poly/stretch which dries fast; same with PJ’s. Instead of enough pairs for 21 days or more, we carry 4 pair, wear one, and one in carry on. Okay, so people don’t want to wash underwear, but I’d rather carry an extra jersey top than all that underwear. For coats, we layer and take a lined windbreaker with hood and a hat for sun that goes well under a hood as it can keep the hood out of your eyes. Carry a lightweight sweater to layer over a jersey, and on really cold days,the sweater can be heavier. For 3 weeks you can get by with 3 sweaters and wash overnight and it will be dry in the a.m. Shoes are heavy and I must wear heavy sports type for foot problems. By taking less cosmetics I can carry a second pair of shoes in case one gets wet in rain.
    This year I purchased an eReader. For 3-4 weeks I usually carry 6 books, one is usually quite thick. Now I can get all 6 books and a hundred more on the eReader; saves on weight in the carry-on;I can check my email and search the web with the eReader as well. I can even play a game or two of solitaire, and since the charging adapter is 110-240 Volt, I can also charge it in my hotel room or on the ship. Just pack the eReader so it is padded on the screen as it is glass and breaks easily and not warranted. My travel hair dryer and curling irons are all dual voltage; they only cost a few dollars more than 110 Volt ones, and help keep our glamourous look! Ofcourse if the ship or hotel has a dryer you don’t need to carry one. I found a safe purse that seems to never be overloaded with water, extra face tissues, etc., by Travelon that is security safe with wire between layers of the purse and a lock to secure the zipper against someone opening. In overseas countries, I carry a small 3 x 4 inch zippered wallet (Target $4.99) with a change purse instead of a larger foldover wallet. I carry only a credit card, picture ID, some local currency bills and change; cuts way down in my purse. My husband carries a different credit card and an ATM card and only about $10.00 in cash. We also recently bought a passport wallet that is also secured with imbedded technology that someone cannot “scan” your credit card number while it is safely tucked in your wallet and purse–Target $9.99.

    Anyway, you had a good trip and hope I’ve been a help to others who want to get lighter in their travels.

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