If you are new to traveling one question might often pop into your head that ‘what is checked luggage?’. It did in my head too. Then I did a little bit of research and here’s what I have found.

what is checked luggage

What is checked luggage?

Checked luggage is luggage that is transported in the cargo hold of an aircraft or a luggage car of a passenger train. It complies with the baggage regulation and is transferred to an inaccessible compartment to the passenger during the flight or ride.

what is checked luggage?
An Example of Checked Luggage

What can I pack in my checked luggage?

Packing luggage for international travel is a bit difficult when you have so many restrictions to abide by.  Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has published an extensive list of what you can pack in or cannot pack in checked luggage.

AllowedNot Allowed
Air Mattress with Built-in Pump (Special Instructions)Aerosol insecticide
Airbrush make-up machineAlcoholic beverages over 140 proof
Alcoholic beverages (less than 3.4oz/100ml)Ammunition (Special Instructions)
AntlersArc Lighters, Plasma Lighters, Electronic Lighters, E-Lighters, E-cigarettes
Artificial Skeleton BonesBang snaps
Axes and HatchetsBB guns (Special Instructions)
Baby carrier/food/formula/powder/wipesBear bangers/spray
BlanketsBlasting caps
Food itemsFlammable objects
Toy gunsExplosives/Fuel oils
Bottle openerKnife
Bows and arrowsBox cutters
Canned foodsButane/Butane Curling Irons (cordless)
KayakChlorine for Pools and Spas
Cast Iron CookwareCO2 Cartridge
Compressed Air Guns (Special Instructions)Fertilizer
Electric/Disposable RazorFire Extinguishers
Dry batteriesRadioactive substances
Gel-type candlesAcids
Daily medicationsLiquid bleach
Live fish/coralLithium batteries with more than 100-watt hours

For more detailed information and more items head over to Transportation Security Administration (TSA)’s website and see the What Can I Bring list?.

This list is a good resource to validate the items you have packed before heading out to the airport. These are some top items TSA has mentioned whether these are allowed or not.

What are the rules for checked luggage?

Rules for checked luggage vary from airlines to airlines. Airlines also implement rules depending on where the flight goes to or come in.

Airlines set various restrictions for luggage dimensions, the weight of your luggage (items included), and so on. If your luggage weight is excessive, it is regarded as excess baggage and you have to pay an excess fee to free your luggage.

Almost all airlines recommend not to carry valuable and fragile items in checked luggage. If your items get damaged, Airlines will not take any responsibility for that. So, put out your important and fragile items from the checked luggage and carry in your hand luggage.

American Airlines has updated its seasonal checked luggage limitation on September 4, 2020, and also released a detailed list of charges. You can head over to the American Airlines’ website and check out the updated policy here.

Carry on vs Checked luggage

Travelers are allowed to take one luggage with them and to send one luggage to the cargo hold. Carry on luggage are the one you take along with you and checked luggage is the one you send them to the cargo hold of an aircraft.

Carry on vs Checked Luggage
Example of Carry on & Checked Luggage

Checked luggage and carry-on luggage both have restrictions on size, dimension, and weight. So, make sure to check your airline’s website before travel.

In the case of carry-on luggage, most airlines permit 45 linear(total) inches carry on and the weight limit is 40 pounds. And for checked luggage, the maximum size allowed is 62 linear(total) inches and 50 pounds per checked luggage. These restrictions vary, so check with your airlines before traveling.

Do I need to check in my luggage?

Well, it depends. Airlines don’t pressure you to check your luggage rather they charge you for your checked luggage but interestingly most of the passengers choose to check their luggage. You should consider some factors to decide whether you need to check your luggage.

  • You have to wait at the departure gate to pick your checked luggage, so if you have a hurry and want to save time you may not want to check your luggage.
  • If you don’t want to pay extra fees by checking your luggage, you should pack your items in carryon luggage and take along with you.
  • Checked luggage has to go through tossing sometimes, so if you think your luggage is not capable enough to bear any pressure, you should not check your luggage rather carry your luggage along with you.
  • If you don’t want to take the hassle to push your luggage through your destination and want maximum comfort, you should check your luggage. Thus, the airline will take care of it.

So, it depends on you whether you want to check your luggage or carry along with you.

What should I not pack in my checked luggage?

Although TSA approves packing valuable items in checked luggage, you should not pack your jewelry, laptops, mobile phone, prescription, camera, etc., and most importantly passport. So before checking the luggage at the gate, make sure to remove the items.

Other than that, you also should not carry perishable items in your luggage. Those can damage or spoil your other items. Raw fish, fresh vegetables, or fruits, meat may rot during the flight, and for the rest of the vacation or trip, your belongings will stink.

So, make sure to remove those items, but still, if you have to carry them, pack frozen ones and seal them into a plastic bag. Also, if you are carrying liquids, make sure to seal them into a well-cushioned plastic bag, and to prevent mishaps, tape your bottles with duct tape.


Checked luggage is ideal for those who don’t like to carry their luggage during the flight, just pack all your items in the luggage, send it to the cargo hold and the airline will take care of it.

When you reach your destination, collect your luggage from the departure gate before the flight is closed. If your luggage fails to arrive, then you must retrieve your luggage from the aircraft hold before the flight takes off.

Question: What is your recommendation on checked luggage? Let us know in the comment section.

I hope you found this article useful and if you still have any confusion feel free to contact me or let me know in the comment section below, I will reply as soon as possible, All About Luggage will try to answer your questions. And for more insights about luggage, read other blog posts on this website. Peace.