Know your limits: how to avoid check-in problems

Belinda Merhab views a website aimed at making the luggage nightmare easier.

If I had a dollar for every uncapped can of hairspray I've had confiscated when checking my baggage at airports, I'd probably be able to buy a new can - if you could still buy hairspray for $3.

If I remember to put the lid on my aerosols, I forget to put my tweezers in my checked baggage.

If I remember to put my liquids in a plastic bag, I forget to adhere to the luggage weight limits.

Luggage, whether you are packing it, checking it or waiting with bated breath until it turns up on the baggage carousel, is a headache.

One tool to make things easier is the website

Created by self-described "seasoned globe trotter" Luke Dudley, the website - as well as showcasing ads - provides a free search tool, featuring the luggage allowances of over 100 different airlines.

An English school teacher who currently lives at a private boarding school in the US, Dudley created the tool after experiencing a string of luggage headaches and watching his students experience their own, lugging their laptop computers and sporting equipment around the globe.

"Some of these kids come from Saudi Arabia, Canada or Mexico ... and the thought of them travelling with all this stuff was horrendous, really," says Dudley


"When you relocate as much as I have, you soon look at your possessions in a new light, and I can't remember how many times I've had to leave a bike or bulky items at the airport for kind friends to collect and forward to me."

Dudley says the website is a "one-stop shop", allowing people to select the airline they are flying with, as well as the airports they will travel between, to find how much luggage they are entitled to bring (checked bags, carry-on and personal items), without being slugged with oversized/overweight baggage fees.

Although each airline does provide luggage details on their websites, Dudley says the information is "vast" and "you have to trawl through it".

"It's not always easy and it's not always made easy by the airlines, especially when fees are involved," he says.

He says his website has "simplified the process", in an attempt to protect travellers from the rude shock he has experienced previously when checking his bags.

"So it's 'hi, welcome to so and so airlines, that will be another $200 for your bag please,"' he jokes.

The website also provides details of the different policies that each airline has for specialist items - Southwest Airlines, for example, allows cremated remains onboard as carry-on luggage and also allows parachutes as carry-on, as long as it is not worn during the flight.

Dudley also answers luggage questions on his website, and says there is no question too difficult.

He's answered everything from 'can I travel with a portable oxygen concentrator?' to 'can I take my Thanksgiving leftovers in my carry-on luggage?'

Another website that provides details on luggage allowances (domestic flights only) is

For guidance on what to pack, particularly since the introduction of new restrictions in March 2007, visit the federal government's website,

The website provides details on how to pack your aerosols, liquids and flammables and provides tips on how to comply with the restrictions.

The new restrictions were introduced in response to an attempted terrorist attack on flights from London to the US and Canada in 2006, where liquid explosives were disguised in soft drink bottles.

On Christmas Day the Federal Government relaxed Australia's restrictions slightly, allowing some sharp objects, such as knitting needles and nail clippers, back into carry-on luggage.