Flight attendants share packing tips to solve baggage problems

It’s goodbye Boris Johnson, investigations are underway after a dramatic afternoon on the north coast and a busy few weeks in store at Auckland airport in the latest headlines from the New Zealand Herald. Video / NZ Herald

Checked baggage is the source of many travel problems, especially given the current issues facing airports as they return to the carousel after a global pandemic.

Earlier this week, with airport congestion looming over the school holidays, Air New Zealand was encouraging domestic passengers to travel light and check in early “to avoid queues at kiosks. and airports”.

Claims of missing, mutilated or delayed baggage can derail a trip. This is why many frequent travelers recommend carrying only hand luggage. Because a group of professional travelers has distilled the art of living from a single piece of cabin baggage: the cabin crew.

A stewardess with years of experience has compiled her lessons into a 12-step guide to flying light.

In conversation with Insider Magazine, here are her tips to take with you on your next vacation.

1. Evaluate your options: know the airplane weight limits before you pack

It is not one size fits all when it comes to weight and height restrictions. Hand luggage can vary between 5 and 15 kg.

“It’s one thing to pack efficiently and use all the space possible, but there’s no point if your bag ends up being too heavy for the plane.”

Different cabin classes on airlines can increase your allowance. For example, Air New Zealand’s premium economy class increases the hand baggage allowance from 1 piece to 2 bags up to

2. Place the lighter towards the top of the bag

If it’s good enough for your groceries, it’s good enough for your carry-on.
Dedicate and lighter clothes on top advise the attendant.
“It helps reduce potential wrinkles on your clothes, and everything tends to stay more organized throughout the flight.”

3. Carry your bulkier items instead of packing them

It’s best to wear heavy, bulky shoes to make room in your valuable carry-on.

“Try to carry the heaviest items at the airport – things like winter boots or bulky jackets.

As a bonus, large coats with plenty of pockets can help carry valuables and add extra luggage space to your person.

4. Use your shoes — especially for signings

Many passengers forget to use all the space in their shoes. It’s a waste, says our guide, especially when you can cram extra pairs of underwear.

“I always put underwear, socks, or little tops inside the shoes. It saves space and also keeps the shoes from looking squashed when you unbox.”

Stiff shoes can help protect more delicate items such as bottles or electronics.

5. Wrap your belt around the inside of the bag

Wrap the belts around your bag – rather than letting them hang down.

“Just rolling them up takes up space unnecessarily.” Fortunately, you can store your belongings inside.

Compression bags are a particularly cheesy travel accessory, but our attendant swears by them.  Photo/Getty Images
Compression bags are a particularly cheesy travel accessory, but our attendant swears by them. Photo/Getty Images

6. Check your liquids and your destination

Some destinations have a limit on the volume and number of liquids. Be very careful or pay with expensive cosmetics.

“For example, when traveling in Europe, all liquids must be presented in a one-litre clear plastic zip-lock bag, and you can only have one bag per person.”

7. Think vertically to find more space

Just when you think there’s no more space, try packing your suitcase or carry-on. Laying your bag flat on your hotel bed will distort your sense of how much space you have once zipped and carried.

“I’m always able to push a few more items in because the rest of the clothes move down creating more space on top.”

8. Don’t buy new toiletries!

“New toiletries can explode under cabin pressure, so opt for partially
complete articles,” she advises. Double wrap your toiletries in plastic, for extra insurance against annoying leaks.

STOP, PACK & ROLL: Rolling clothes saves space compared to folding.  Photo / Sarah Brown, Unsplash
STOP, PACK & ROLL: Rolling clothes saves space compared to folding. Photo / Sarah Brown, Unsplash

9. Unnecessary items are your enemy

When traveling light, plan your outfits carefully and forget about bringing “options”. Each item must be worn. You have no room for passengers.

“Take some time and lay out all the clothes you plan to wear each day.”

10. Prepare a bag for dirty laundry

“There’s nothing worse than mixing clothes in a suitcase.”

A spare inner liner or trash bag can help you keep your clean produce separated from the mess.
Pack, pack.

11. Rolling clothes really saves space, no ironing

Yes, it’s been said before, but rolling clothes can help you pack more on your vacation.
“I don’t know exactly how it works, but when you roll your clothes instead of folding them, it takes up less space.”
As to whether it leaves your clothes less wrinkled, that’s a runaway urban legend.

12. Vacuum bags can help you save space

Compression bags are a particularly cheesy travel accessory, but a godsend for those who need to make the most of every cubic inch.

“They work like a vacuum cleaner and suck all the air out of clothes. I easily fit three airtight bags in one carry-on.”

Compressing bulky fabrics and garments into a tight block – once you’ve vacuum packed, there’s no going back.