An important aspect of flying that can be overlooked when deciding on an aircraft to purchase or charter is the baggage situation, notes Rene Banglesdorf. Following are some helpful pointers for your luggage planning…
Most of us know how frustrating it can be taking luggage on scheduled airline flights. Will you be able to fit everything and keep your bag under 50 lbs.? How much do you have to pay for that extra bag? What if you don’t have a sample size of toothpaste? What if you forget something you need overhead during the flight?
When flying privately, you can avoid such issues if you do your research beforehand. Here are a few things to consider:
1. Do you need access to your luggage from the cabin? Ladies, if you have toiletries in your bag that you need to access during the flight, it’s important to find out whether or not your aircraft has cabin access to the luggage compartment.
2. Is the baggage area pressurized? Don’t stick your aerosols in unpressurized wing lockers. It’s very cold at altitude and the air is much thinner.
3. How much baggage do you have? If you’re doing business over a round of golf or going on vacation, you’ll need to figure out whether your golf clubs/skis will fit on the aircraft. If you have eight guys on a golf trip, a small jet probably won’t do the trick. Or if you’re a guy traveling with six women you might want to limit shopping bags on the return flight.
4. How many people do you need to fit? Pilatus, Cessna and Kodiak have all created aircraft specifically for cargo capacity. Some have quick-change configurations so that seats can be removed to accommodate more cargo and fewer people—and with bigger doors for loading bulky items.
Luggage by Category
Turboprops - King Air models, especially, have cargo space in the rear of the cabin, separated from passengers by industrial netting. Sometimes you can put extra passengers on a jump seat back there too. There are all sorts of jokes about the extra baggage to be made there!
As a modification, wing lockers can be added behind the props for extra capacity, which can hold small roller bags or duffles.
Small Jets - An average Small Jet seats 6-7 passengers, and has an baggage capacity of around 55 cubic feet. With seats full, each passenger can bring a small roller bag and one personal item (backpack/briefcase).
Skis and golf clubs may not fit, although Cessna did create a ski tube as early as its Citation II models.
Midsize Jets - The average Midsize Jet seats eight passengers, and has about 60 cubic feet of baggage space. Each passenger can bring one medium roller bag and a personal item. Skis and golf clubs may or may not be accommodated, depending on passenger numbers and how much luggage is being taken.
Hawkers are one of the models with all baggage capacity inside, which makes bulky bags a problem.
Super Midsize Jet - Typically seating eight and with a baggage capacity of about 90 cubic feet, all passengers can bring two medium-sized roller bags and one personal item. A Super Midsize jet will usually have room for skis and golf clubs in addition to typical luggage.
Large Jet - Seating approximately 10, and offering about 125 cubic feet of luggage space, each passenger can bring two large roller bags and a personal item. There will be plenty of room for skis/golf clubs, both in the cabin and externally, with the rest of the luggage.
(We once had a movie crew with all of their equipment, wardrobe changes and props stowed away on a Falcon 900, which has a great storage capacity.)
My Bags Won’t Fit!?
If you find yourself in a situation where your airplane can’t accommodate your gear, you’ve got options:
Depending on your mission, baggage capacity may or may not be important. If you’re typically taking just one- or two-day business trips that only require a duffle bag and a briefcase, just about any private aircraft will be able to accommodate your needs. However, if you’re taking vacations with friends and family members, shopping or over-buying on the Napa wine tours, the aircraft’s baggage capacity and accessibility can play a major role in your selection of aircraft.
And if you’re riding on someone else’s airplane? Be sensitive enough to pack soft-sided bags that can be scrunched into small spaces.