UPS sells 'luggage boxes' so customers can avoid airline baggage fees

The UPS Store has launched a new product, which it calls "luggage boxes," marketed as a product to enable customers to get out of paying airline baggage fees by shipping their possessions ahead of time.

The boxes themselves, which look like cardboard suitcases with a handle, cost $12.95 for a small size and $17.95 for the larger size -- the comparatively high price for a box is said to be justified by the their touted durability -- but that doesn't including shipping.

But mathematically, they don't work in the consumer's favor if they are used to transport a standard load of personal possessions. The smaller of the two boxes holds a maximum of 55 pounds, which, if fully loaded and sent at the cheapest rate from San Francisco to Atlanta, would cost $66 and take five business days. Packed with just 25 pounds of weight, it would still cost $35 and take five days. (AAA members get 15% off the boxes and 5% off domestic shipping costs, which makes them just really expensive instead of crazy expensive.)

UPS claims the boxes
will save you money when stacked against "comparable" baggage -- meaning extremely heavy or oddly sized. The larger sized "luggage box" will contain 95 pounds for $92 plus the $18 box -- but speaking in terms of economy, if you're transporting something that weighs that much, which far exceeds the usual airline limit of 50 pounds, you would probably have thought of mailing it anyway. So the people who will find these boxes much of a brainstorm are in a very slim minority indeed.

So if they don't usually save you money, are they more convenient? Many factors also chip away at that claim, too. To use one, you must arrange to have it shipped from your starting point and picked up for you at your destination, or you have to make time to do it at both ends yourself. You will also have to do it twice if you plan on getting your stuff home again. Plus you'll be without your possessions (or your kids will be without theirs) for many days while they're en route. Last, UPS doesn't recommend shipping its new luggage boxes internationally.

Most airlines charge $25 each way to check the first piece of luggage at the airport, and most of the time it arrives when you do. It's an annoying extra fee, but not nearly as annoying as the time-consuming hassle of shipping stuff.

No matter how you slice it, submitting to the airlines' fee remains the fastest and cheapest way to move almost all vacation baggage quickly. The airline method, vexing as it is, remains the better choice even if you're lazy.

The best way to get your stuff from Point A to Point B remains unchanged: pack light. Click here for some excellent packing tips.

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