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UPS Luggage Box Tries to Compete with Airline Checked Bags (Not Quite There Yet)

Everyone loves to complain about luggage fees, but other than flying Southwest or JetBlue, there hasn’t really been a way to avoid them that makes economic sense. I mean, sure, you could FedEx your suitcase, but that ain’t cheap. UPS has apparently been watching luggage fees rise and now has its Luggage Box to try to steal some of the market for luggage shipping. It’s got a ways to go, but I suppose this is a step in that direction.

The luggage box is absolutely not revolutionary in any way. There are no special rates for transport at all. It’s just this:

UPS Luggage Box

So who cares? Well, it’s all about weight. UPS charges you by the pound to ship things, and this weighs a lot less than your usual suitcase. In fact, they say it can save about 7 pounds on average. The big one is 26″ x 16″ x 12″ and has a suggested retail of just under $18. Of course, you can use it multiple times, so that cost is nothing.

If I need to ship 50 pounds over to my in-laws in Indiana, it’ll cost $55.85 for this box. It it was only 43 pounds (minus the 7 pounds the extra luggage weighs), then it’s $49.08. Getting it under $50 makes it more attractive for sure.

There is one enormous problem. This is sent via UPS Ground. So you need to send it days in advance of your arrival. If you’re going from LA to Minnesota in winter, that won’t be a problem. You don’t exactly need your winter clothes here in SoCal, but in general you need your stuff. So I’m not quite sure how they’re going to get over that hump. That same $49 shipment costs $113 to do it in 3 days, $193 to do it in 2 days, and $224 to do next day. That’s not competitive at all.

Besides, the airlines are charging you $25 for the first bag or $35 for the second, in general. So you have to pay a premium for it take the better part of a week to get to your destination. At least you don’t have to lug that bag around with you, but I personally can’t imagine paying more for it to take that long. It’s just not likely to work out.

Now, if you need to check more than two bags, this starts to get much more interesting. That third bag will cost you over $100 and the fourth one can be $200. In those cases, shipping becomes a no-brainer. Besides, if you have to check that much stuff, you would have to be able to part with at least one or two of the suitcases for a few days.

So, UPS has done a good job of trying to make this more attractive, but I would be surprised if it ended up getting much new business for them. It’s more of a gimmick than anything else. Still, if airlines keep raising fees, this will become more and more attractive.

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