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I often fly with easyJet. Almost on every flight gate attendants inform passengers that due to the high number of passengers some trolleys will be checked in for free, even if the passengers already checked in another bag at the desk before arrving to the gate.

Sometimes gate attendants ask for volunteers, who check in their hand luggage in exchange of speedy boarding.

Recently I was checking in my bag at the desk, when the attendant asked me. "Sir, would you also like to check in your other trolley for free?"

Wow, great idea. With the simple risk of losing the bag during handling I had the comfort of not having to carry that heavy small hand trolley with me, extract and put the laptop back inside for xray scanning, no questions asked by the security officers, etc.

I would like to ask if it is or not standard practice for easyJet or other airlines to allow free checking in of hand luggage, given that the bag the passenger is carrying follows the sizing rules. It would be perfect for traveling with forbidden objects (including your favourite 200 ml bottle of shampoo or shaving blades) without having to purchase a bag check-in allowance. Or just in order not to worry about security officers questioning the items you are carrying onboard (with the risk of being forced to dispose of them).

  • ‘if you have had similar experiences’ makes the question close-worthy as too broad or opinion-based (asking for opinions/anecdotes rather than actual factual anwers). Furthermore, I am confused why it is even considerable to check in handbags; most women I know would never separate themselves from their handbags. I don’t know that many men with handbags, though; that side could be different. – Jan Jan 2 '18 at 14:18
  • Most people I know wouldn't too. Do I have suicide instincts? :-) – usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ Jan 3 '18 at 0:07
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    @jan I think the OP means hand baggage not handbag. – mdewey Jan 3 '18 at 11:47
  • @mdewey I have to confirm. I have inadvertently confused the two. With "hand bag" (my original wording) I did not mean "handbag", but trolleys to carry in the aircraft. Need to revert the edit – usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ Jan 3 '18 at 12:16
  • @mdewey That makes so much more sense! – Jan Jan 3 '18 at 13:41
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What you observed is very common and has been a standard practice literally for years.

There's no sidestepping on prohibited items, in fact, more items are forbidden in the terminal than in checked baggage. You're already passed through bag check at the terminal entrance.

If you're asking if this is a way to avoid the fee for otherwise carry-on sized bags, yes, it is, 100%, and the airlines are fully aware of this. This is simply because a delay is more costly than any fees collected at the gate, which would take even more time.

Finally, it's actually less risky to check bags at the gate because the path to the hold is much shorter, so less opportunity to get lost.

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    You may want to read the question again, as you've completely missed what was being asked. The question was about being asked to check a carry-in sized bag AT CHECK-IN, not at the gate. – Doc Jan 1 '18 at 23:18
  • The answer was partially clear to me. The answerer said You're already passed through bag check at the terminal entrance so I think he read the question correctly. But I went through a scan at terminal entrance only once in my life: at AYT – usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ Jan 1 '18 at 23:20
  • @usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ Well which did you mean? Do you mean being offered to check the bag at the check-in counter or at the gate? Your question seems to imply being offered "xray scanning," which implies you were asked at the check-in counter and not the gate (though yes, some countries such as Turkey have an initial security check at the terminal entrance first, then a second check after check-in). – Zach Lipton Jan 2 '18 at 0:40
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    I meant the check in counter inside the terminal, before you go to security scans where your hand bag is xrayed and your body is metal-detected. I never talked about being "offered" xray, I talked about avoiding xraying the bag, which costs time and fear of discussions with officers – usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ Jan 2 '18 at 1:02
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Yes, it's not unusual for airlines to offer this. I've never had it happen at bag drop, but both Easyjet and BA have sent me a text on the day of a flight (when I was travelling with hand baggage only) to say that I can send my cabin bag as checked luggage for free. In that case, it has to be hand luggage sized, but follow the rules for checked luggage, so regular sized bottles of shampoo are OK.

However, I think they only do this when they're expecting a lot of hand luggage on the flight, so you can't plan on avoiding the checked baggage fee that way.

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There are lots of advantages to checking a bag if it contains nothing you need at the airport or during the flight. As you've mentioned, you can put things in it that aren't allowed through security, and you don't have to drag it all through the airport. I do it on almost every trip. And in general, I pay a checked-bag fee to be guaranteed that I can do that as soon as I get to the airport.

If you want to save that fee, you can take a chance, don't pack things that can't go through security, drag the bag all the way with you and check it for free at the last minute at the gate. I don't see much benefit in that.

Would it be cool if the airline didn't charge to check bags? Would it save time at the gate? Sure it would. But they aren't going to do that. They've become quite fond of those checked-bag fees, and being able to advertise what appears to be a lower price as a result. Some airlines may do it once in a while to delight you and save themselves time when they know the flight is super full, but that's not the same as going back to the days of no baggage fees.

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    There is another condition: The bag must not contain anything you would need within the next couple of days if your checked luggage were lost or delayed. I always carry-on my medications, and on outbound travel I keep a change of clothes with me. – Patricia Shanahan Jan 2 '18 at 0:18
  • Actually I assumed that I will take the risk of having my bag lost or delayed, even with my laptop in it. The risk should be quite low – usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ Jan 2 '18 at 1:03
  • @usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ It's worth reviewing the airline's terms and conditions to understand their liability if something is lost or stolen. In many cases, they'll pay out significantly less than the value of a laptop or will disclaim all responsibility for electronics entirely. – Zach Lipton Jan 3 '18 at 0:22
  • @usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ I have never had a bag permanently lost. I have had one delayed three times, from between a few hours and several days. – Patricia Shanahan Jan 3 '18 at 0:34
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Thank you all for your contribution, but now my answer deserves the acceptation mark.

I got an official response from easyJet

Dear /usr/local/ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ,

thank you for contacting easyJet.

We inform you that easyJet offers a service call hands free for this purpose. It allows you to check your cabin luggage into the aircraft at the cost of 5 euro, and you can request it directly at the bag drop desk in airport.

We hope to have you soon on board again.

Kind regards, easyJet customer service

Final comments

If the flight is full from the check-in list you can always try to ask the check in clerk if they allow free check in of cabin bag, but no result guaranteed. Asking is always free. And if they allow, consider it a personal favour.

You may also try to show yourself close to bag drop deadline (as reported on your ticket), but again no guarantees. If you want to make sure you won't dispute with security officers and/or bring the bottle of wine you wanted to gift your friends without purchasing a checked bag allowance, it costs 5 euros/pounds. Definitely cheaper than normal bag allowances.

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