All airlines have a limit on how much and how heavy your luggage can be. Gaylon Blair, the Southwest Airlines Station Manager at Lubbock International Airport explains why. "One aspect of it, is the ticket counter agents, customer agents and the ramp agents have to lift the bags. Another thing is most bags aren't made to handle more than 70 pounds. When you pack bags too full, they get damaged."
Let's go over the rules of baggage. If you're flying Southwest, you may check up to three pieces of luggage free of charge. You can have one carry on and one personal item like a purse or briefcase. With American Airlines and American Eagle, you can check on two pieces of luggage free of charge and have one carry-on bag. You will incur additional charges if you check more luggage than allowed free of charge. With any carrier, the bags can not weigh more than 70 pounds. Blair says, "We have sizing boxes available at all check in positions and it does have to fit in the sizing box."
As of December 15th, American Airlines and American Eagle issued notice that bags weighing between 50 to 70 pounds will be subject to a $25 fee. But exactly how heavy is 50 pounds? We weighed an empty piece of luggage. It weighed about 14 pounds. Then we packed the same piece of luggage with enough clothes for a weekend trip. It then weighed about 30 pounds putting you under the charge limit.
Before packing you'll want to check your luggage to make sure it's in good sturdy condition. Check the locks and zippers to make sure they're secure and don't forget to have your name on all your luggage. If you have a bag with a shoulder strap, you'll want to tuck it into the bag itself. Blair says it's easy for the straps to get hung up on the conveyer belts that transport the bags.
The biggest change of all will be that your checked luggage will now be screened. Blair says, "Every bag has to be inspected and the rule goes into effect by December 31st." At L.I.A. the new system will not go into place until after Christmas. Blair says, "The way it's going to work in Lubbock is with a drop and go system. What that means is the customers will check in with the ticket agent. They'll be processed, get a boarding pass, their luggage will be checked, and a bag tag will be put on the bag. Then the customer has to carry their luggage to a table and it will be run through a device."
Don't forget, any wrapped Christmas gifts may be unwrapped if taken as a carry-on. It's best to leave them unwrapped or put them inside your checked baggage.