In a trip I bought some items that cannot fit into my suitcase. My ticket allows for 1 more luggage.

Can I just buy a plastic garbage bag, fill it with clothes and check it in as luggage?

It is easier, faster and cheaper than buying a new suitcase.

I want to understand if there is any legal, safety or other restriction that prohibits using simple bags as luggage. Edit: More specifically I am thinking of checking-in multiple plastic bags, one inside the other, that are a very durable, yet not solid, "package" of clothes. Nothing fragile. The durability and "resistance to mechanical stress" of this package would be comparable with most bags. However I do understand that it would look like a "cheap" thing. (Because it is.) My intention is to avoid buying a suitcase to carry my laundry back home.

The plastic bags I have are the ones used to throw rubbish. Not so good looking, but durable and cost effective.

  • 3
    Given the amount of damage that occurs to suitcases, I wouldn't trust my things to a plastic rubbish bag.
    – user105640
    Commented Jan 4, 2020 at 2:13
  • 1
    I checked a flimsy cardboard box once (with a suitcase inside; the zipper broke just before departure and my hotel quickly scrounged up one of the boxes their toilet paper comes in for me) and the airline checked it after I signed a damage waiver. It made the trip, but came out with good sized holes from where the wheels of other bags bashed into it. A garbage bag is very likely to be damaged if you get them to accept it. Commented Jan 4, 2020 at 5:16
  • I've had domestic US airlines bag things like a car seat. The clear plastic bag is heavy duty, much more so than a trash/garbage bag.
    – mkennedy
    Commented Jan 4, 2020 at 17:08

2 Answers 2


It will depend on exactly what you mean by a 'plastic bag', the airline involved, and potentially the specific check-in agent, but the general answer is NO, they will NOT accept it.

Airlines will generally not accept "luggage" that they do not consider to be suitable to survive the trip without damage - and a plastic bag would normally fit within that criteria. At a minimum they would make you sign a waiver releasing them of liability if the bag or it's contents were lost or damaged, but in general they would more likely simply say no.

As an alternative, airlines will generally accept boxes (presuming they are made from suitably strong cardboard and are properly sealed), or nylon canvas bags (sometimes known as "Red-White-Blue" bags) such as these which can often be purchased very cheaply.

red-white-blue bags

  • Thank you for your answer. I edited my answer to clarify what I mean by plastic bag. Initially I tried to keep it short and avoid details.
    – Spyros K
    Commented Jan 11, 2020 at 12:42
  • You will see huge numbers of those "red white blue" bags if you travel in the Far East.
    – badjohn
    Commented Nov 24, 2022 at 18:05
  • 1
    You do get very tough and durable plastic bags which are sometimes used for luggage (e.g. I've had an airline put a rucksack inside a plastic bag to avoid straps getting caught). If you can poke a finger or pen or sharp corner of a box through a bag, as often happens with bin-bags, it's not going to be durable enough. But canvas or some types of plastic are much tougher and will resist a pen etc.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Nov 25, 2022 at 16:16

Most airlines will not accept it, because of the high chances of it getting damaged - at your destiantion, you would probably find an empty ripped bag (if anything), and your stuff will be gone.
As you can file a claim for the lost content with the airline, and they would have to pay for it, they deny instable packaging right from the beginning.

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