Can You Send Luggage on an Airline Without Flying?

Can You Send Luggage on an Airline Without Flying?

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Contrary to the norm, have you ever wondered if it’s possible to send luggage via an airline without accompanying it on the flight?

Whether it’s for the convenience of traveling light, assisting a friend or family member, or any other reason, the idea certainly has its allure.

Let’s get into it.

Can You Send Luggage on an Airline Without Flying?

The short answer? Yes, you can, but there are caveats.

Many airlines do offer what’s termed as “unaccompanied baggage” services. And some companies focus specifically on offering such services.

This isn’t widely advertised because, let’s face it, the primary purpose of airlines is to transport passengers, and luggage is typically an accessory to those passengers.

But yes, the service exists.

Essentially, unaccompanied baggage refers to sending luggage as cargo on passenger planes. It’s similar to freight, but designed specifically for personal items and luggage.

Now, while it’s possible, there are some key things to consider:

  1. Cost: Sending luggage this way might not always be cost-effective compared to traditional courier services. Airline charges are based on weight and volume, so if you’re thinking of sending that giant stuffed teddy you won from the fair, be prepared for a hefty fee.
  2. Packing: Your luggage needs to be securely packed. While airlines are generally careful, your bags will be traveling without you to keep an eye on them. It’s worth investing in sturdy luggage and maybe even a lock or two.
  3. Customs and Declarations: Especially when sending internationally, you’ll need to be thorough with customs declarations. Unlike when you’re traveling with your bags and can explain any questionable items in person, unaccompanied bags might be held up if there’s any confusion.
  4. Pickup and Drop-off: Not all airports might offer this service, and even if they do, the pickup and drop-off locations might be different from regular baggage claim areas. You’ll likely have to visit the airline’s cargo terminal.
  5. Insurance: It’s always wise to ensure your unaccompanied luggage. While airlines do provide basic coverage, it might not be sufficient for valuable items.

One other easy option would be to hand the bag over to someone traveling in the same location.

However, keep in mind that this comes with several implications.

Should there be any Concern about Sending Luggage on an Airline Without Flying?

Just before you take the action, sending your luggage on an airplane without flying, there are few things you may need to consider, which we talk about below:

Security and Safety:

First things first, the security of your belongings.

While airlines and airports have systems in place to ensure luggage is handled properly, there’s no denying that bags occasionally get lost, damaged, or delayed when traveling, even when accompanied by a passenger.

Without the immediacy of a passenger awaiting their luggage at the destination, there’s an argument to be made that unaccompanied baggage might be slightly more susceptible to such issues.

It’s not necessarily common, but it’s worth considering.

Customs and Regulations

When you travel with your bags, you’re right there to answer any queries customs might have about your luggage’s contents.

With unaccompanied baggage, it’s a different story.

If there’s anything inside that raises eyebrows, you’re not there to immediately clarify or rectify the situation.

This could lead to delays or even potential confiscation of certain items.

Always ensure you’re familiar with the regulations of both the departure and arrival countries, and clearly list the contents of your luggage.

For people traveling with Emirates Airlines, we have a whole article dedicated to the list of prohibited items on our website.

Cost Implications

Financially speaking, sending luggage this way might not always be the most wallet-friendly option. Especially for larger or heavier items, costs can escalate quickly.

It’s essential to get a clear quote beforehand and perhaps compare it with other shipping or courier services to see if it’s the best value for money.

Timelines and Logistics:

Unaccompanied baggage might not always be the speediest option.

The processing times can differ from the regular baggage handling we’re accustomed to as passengers.

Moreover, collecting unaccompanied luggage typically requires a trip to the airline’s cargo terminal, not the regular baggage carousel.

It’s essential to factor in these additional steps and potential delays.

Related: Can Someone Else Pick up Your Luggage at the Airport?

How to Check If an Airport Offers the unaccompanied baggage Service

The Airline’s Official Website is Your Friend

Almost every major airline has its website nowadays, and that’s your first port of call. Hop onto the official site of the airline you’re considering and navigate to their services or cargo section.

While the focus might often be on larger freight or business services, details about unaccompanied baggage are typically nestled in there too.

If you find yourself going in circles, locate the contact section and draft a quick email or make a call to their customer service. Directly asking the question can save you a ton of search time.

Head to the Airport’s Official Website:

Just like airlines, most airports also have comprehensive websites detailing the services they offer.

Look for sections dedicated to cargo, shipping, or special services. If you’re not having much luck, the FAQ section can occasionally hold this information. Airports often list the airlines they host and the services available, making your research a bit easier.

Pick Up the Phone:

Sometimes, the digital age can feel like it’s added layers of complexity rather than simplifying things.

If you’re not getting clear answers online, a good old-fashioned phone call to the airport’s customer service or information desk might be the key. They can quickly confirm if such a service exists and direct you to the relevant department if needed.

Engage with Online Travel Communities

Travel forums and platforms like TripAdvisor, FlyerTalk, or even specific airline or airport forums can be invaluable.

These communities are often teeming with frequent flyers and travel enthusiasts who’ve probably asked your question before. A quick search or a query can provide you with real-life experiences, tips, and sometimes even contacts to aid your process.


While it’s certainly feasible to send luggage via an airline without flying, it’s essential to weigh the convenience against the cost and possible complications.

If you’re moving abroad, sending a few suitcases of personal belongings, or have specific items you’d rather not lug around during your travels, this service can be invaluable. Just be sure to do your homework before dropping off your bags!

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