Can a Backpack Be Checked Luggage?

So can a backpack be checked luggage? And is it safe to check in a backpack?

We already know that you can use a backpack as carry-on or a personal item if it is small and fits under the seat in front of you; but can you check in a backpack?

Yes, you can bring a backpack as a checked bag on any airline, if it is within the checked luggage policy of your airline. Make sure that the backpack is within the size and weight limits before heading to the airport.

In fact, a GOOD backpack is a great alternative, because it will take all your essential items, and it is lightweight and flexible.

Let’s dive right in.

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TETON Sports Oasis 18L Hydration perfect backpack/ Amazon Courtesy

Can a Backpack Be Used as Checked Luggage?

What are airlines rules about traveling with backpacks in checked luggage?

Most airlines have a standard checked luggage size and weight which is about 62 inches linear / 27” H * 21“ * 14“ W, and 50 pounds as a weight.

Moreover, you can bring only one piece of checked baggage free of charge, if you bring any additional bags, you will need to pay for them either online or at the airport.

If you want to take an additional checked luggage piece, in addition to your backpack it is preferable to pay luggage fees online rather than at the airport.

Airport luggage prices can be expensive in comparison with their websites.

Luggage charges depend on the airline and its policies, for example, they may charge the second bag $50 , and the third bag $60 etc…

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So while you are preparing for your flight make sure that your backpack does not surpass the size or weight limits, you can search for your airline in the search tab above (in this website) to know more about their luggage policy or you can browse the luggage section in your airline website.

Sometimes even if you are not ready to check in your backpack, if it is too large or there is no available  space in the airplane, the airline may gate check in your backpack, so it is better to give a quick glance to your airline luggage rules and customer reviews before booking with them.


How To Protect a Backpack When Checked as Luggage?

1. Use a solid and durable lightweight backpack

This may be an obvious tip, but it is important to pick a sturdy and long-lasting backpack.

Traveling with a well-built and robust backpack will make your trip easier, save you time and even money.

You will not need to stress about a good backpack with good zippers, straps and straps when baggage handlers are tossing it around.

In addition, you can find a nice backpack with just affordable prices if you already do not have one, and you do not need to break the bank to get a nice and tough backpack.

2. Cover your backpack

Just like duffle bags, backpacks have straps that need to be secured, or they will make the backpack stuck somewhere in the airport conveyor belt.

I do recommend using a plastic wrap if you do not want to invest in a rain cover, but before that, tie the straps together before you cover the backpack.

Plastic wrap will also protect your backpack from dirt or rain in case the backpack is outside.

white backpack with dirt

Some passengers are always worried about the airport security that they will remove the cover and will not put it back, yes that may happen in a few cases.

However, most of the airport security authorities claim that if they inspect a bag they make sure to return everything to its original place, whether it is the items inside the bag, a luggage cover or a zip tie.

Pro Tip: You can also line the inside of your backpack with a plastic or trash bag to prevent your items from getting wet or in case the cover outside got missed.

3. Pack wisely

A load of tips and packing videos out there demonstrates how to pack a backpack perfectly, but as a rule of thumb make sure to take only what you need, place less used items in the bottom of the backpack, and heavy items in the middle. Things like sleeping bags, additional shoes or other items without ignoring your airline weight and size limits.

However, if you are traveling with some expensive and valuable items, avoid placing them inside the backpack.

Take any type of jewelry, documents or medications with you on board the airplane.

Small accessories like chargers, airPods or small cables will be good to take with you in your carry-on also. Ensure that you do not forget anything in the side pockets; they will not be safe there.

 You don’t know who is going to search or open your bag, and some unprofessional airport security agents may take advantage of those small items.

4. Be aware of liquids

Liquids are risky in checked luggage, especially in glass bottles.

Air travel authorities permit all forms of liquids in checked luggage except some hazardous items and with limited quantities also, but it is highly recommended to avoid placing any type of liquids in your backpack as much as possible.

On the other hand if you do not want to take some type of restricted liquids in carry-on or you, want to take some type of your favorite drink. Make sure that you take it in a plastic bottle and secure it inside a sealed or plastic bag so they will not spill out inside your backpack and mess your items.

Place the liquids in the middle of the backpack and wrap them with clothes so they do not move around or get to the edge of the backpack.

5. Sharp Items

There are no restrictions on some types of sharp items in checked luggage (like pocket knives, razors, screwdrivers etc…), however, it mostly depends on the state or the country you are flying to, but they are still dangerous items and they need to be handled carefully.

You will need to cover any type of sharp object you take in your backpack so they do not cause any harm or any injuries to the security officers or t luggage handlers.

You do not want that to happen.

6. Don’t forget to tag your backpack

Traveling with a backpack as checked luggage, it may not be easy because your backpack will be out of your sight the entire time. Thus, ensure to tag your backpack with many tags, use a tag inside and one outside in case your backpack is mishandled or missed.

Even when I travel with a suitcase, I use two tags one attached with the suitcase handle and one in the inside compartment.

It is better to avoid filling the outside tag with sensitive personal information, like your full address or personal email. Just your name and city will be enough, you can put your address in the inside tag.

Some passengers even recommend using three tags in case the outside tag is missed, but overall two tags will be enough.

Final Thoughts

Generally you can check in a backpack with your airline without any issues, whether for a hiking trip or just for an adventure flight.

Airlines do not have any restriction on the type of the bag you need to check in, unless it is some fragile bag.

However, ensure that you know your airline size and weight limits, before you start packing your backpack.

One of the main reasons most people prefer a backpack as a replacement for a suitcase is that you can travel hands free and some backpacks take more than a standard suitcase.

So follow the tips above, go ahead and start packing your backpack and we hope that  this saves you time and money and make it to your destination hassle free.

Happy travels.

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