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We're traveling internationally as a couple and are allowed 2 pieces of checked in luggage. Is it OK to send 1 slightly overweight piece instead of 2 underweight pieces?

Edit: flying El Al

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It very much depends on the airline -- I know several that count weight per booking and others that insist on weight per person. As such I'm not sure you'll get a definitive answer to this, but if you have a specific airline (or a few options) in mind then edit the question to state that. –  SpaceDog Aug 30 at 7:39
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In most cases, no. They might allow the overweight one without charging extra if it's only very minimally overweight, but in most cases, they'd let it through even if you brought two bags. –  waiwai933 Aug 30 at 7:42
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not that El Al has a maximum limit per bag of 32kg (as per their page) so you'd be wasting more than half your allowance - and running the risk of being charged extra if weights of two passengers can't be added. –  greyshade Aug 30 at 8:44
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Simple, you can't take overweight (without being charged). Take two cases. –  Joe Blow Aug 30 at 10:23
    
What class are you flying in? I've found that largely (but not always), the closer to the pointy end of the plane you're booked in, the less they enforce baggage rules. May help that you tend to get more baggage allowances anyway, so it's harder to exceed them anyway! But just an observation... –  Gagravarr Aug 30 at 13:41

3 Answers 3

up vote 21 down vote accepted

Take two suitcases. You will (probably) get charged extra for the overweight bag, and if it's too overweight they won't accept it at all. And you will pay again on the return.

Assuming you are going on vacation, you will most likely buy something and need a way to carry it home. yes? One overweight, stuffed to capacity case won't work.

Note that a completely empty case is often a problem too - it's so light it doesn't go through the baggage system well and can get blown off carts when outside.

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Overweight bags are not only so designated as a way to make money for the airline . They can actually be difficult for baggage handlers to, well, handle, and to place inside the hold etc. The extra fee is to deter you from bringing a heavy bag; the airline would definitely prefer even a single traveller to bring two lighter bags.

Then to complicate matters you're hoping to combine baggage allowances in order to do something the airline would rather you didn't do? I bet that won't work out well.

Bringing two bags will give you a sort of insurance against baggage delay or loss - put a mixture of possessions in each bag. It will also save you struggling with a very heavy bag for the parts of the journey where you have to handle the luggage yourself. If the issue is that only one of you can handle luggage, then find a way to connect the two bags so they can be handled as a unit. Check Travelling with 2 check-in bags for more on that.

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It may be more than just difficult for baggage handlers, depending on local regulations it may even be a work code violation to (manually) handle bags above a certain weight. This means the airline might get fined for allowing your overweight bag. Of course regulations differ around the world, but it's often the main reason for the per bag limits. –  AVee Aug 31 at 9:47
    
even if they don't get fined, they may have a different procedure, such as requiring two handlers to work together, or a handler to wear a back support, etc. Heavy bags are tagged HEAVY so that everyone knows to treat them carefully. Airlines are inconvenienced by heavy bags for sure. –  Kate Gregory Aug 31 at 15:23

What finally happened was that they let me on with 2.5KG overweight - 25.5KG vs 23KG advertised limit. I didn't ask too many questions, and this isn't the first time I got on with overweight luggage to an El Al flight. Note that 25.5KG is still well below the limit for business class luggage.

Of course - your millage may vary.

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