Now that airlines are charging for checked bags, you might want to consider shipping them ahead, using a ground service like FedEx or UPS. Most big airlines now charge up to $25 one-way to check a second bag, more for additional or overweight bags (see Sky High Luggage).
Sending a 26-inch, 40-pound suitcase from Manhattan to downtown Chicago costs about $25 on FedEx, $27 by UPS; from Manhattan to downtown Los Angeles, about $41 on FedEx, $49 by UPS. A bag weighing 55 pounds shipped from New York to Miami Beach is about $39 on FedEx, $43 by UPS. The same “heavy” bag could cost $50 to $100 on some airlines.
Shipped baggage is tracked and takes two to four business days to arrive, so you’ll need to pack in advance if you want your things to be there when you arrive. But, just think, you won’t have to drag bags around the airport, wait in lines to check them, hang around the carousel—or worry about lost luggage. To calculate your own shipping costs, visit FedEx.com and UPS.com.