Boxes are perfect for college students and people who are moving, so you might be wondering if you can check a box as luggage?
Generally, you can check a box as luggage, though the same weight and size restrictions will apply as for other items of luggage like suitcases, and restrictions on international flights may also apply depending on the airline.
Most airlines have a maximum weight limit of 50 pounds and size restrictions of 27″ x 21″ x 14″ (a total linear size of 62 inches) for each checked item, including boxes.
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What the Airlines Say
If you want to check a box as luggage, the regulations will vary depending on the airline you are flying with.
- American Airlines: American Airlines will generally allow you to check in a box, though when flying to selected destinations and during busy travel seasons, you may not be able to.
- Delta: Delta will generally allow you to check in a box unless you are flying to/from Central or South America (only original, factory-sealed boxes are allowed), or to/from Brazil, Mexico, and Chile.
- JetBlue: JetBlue will only allow you to check in a box as luggage when flying domestically and to cities in Cuba. Boxes are not permitted when flying to other international destinations.
- Southwest: Southwest will allow you to check in a box as luggage.
- Spirit: Spirit will allow you to check in a box as luggage, though not to international destinations between December 1 – January 10.
- United: United will allow you to check in a box as luggage.
When Flying Internationally
As you can see from the above, in many cases it’s possible to check a box as luggage when flying internationally, though it can depend on the airline.
During busy travel seasons, American Airlines and Spirit may not allow you to check in a box when flying internationally.
Delta will let you check in a box when flying to most international destinations, but JetBlue won’t.
How to Make Sure Your Box Survives the Flight
Boxes don’t offer as much protection as suitcases, especially hard-shell suitcases, but it’s still possible to increase the chances that your box will arrive at your destination in one piece – or at the very least, the contents inside will.
- Add an extra cardboard layer at the bottom of the box.
- Place additional padding all around the inside of the box.
- Tape up the inside joints and outside corners of the box.
- Wrap the contents inside the box with plenty of bubble wrap.
- Wrap the outside of the box with plastic wrap.
A Box Can Count as Your Carry on Item
A box can count as a carry on item as long as it is no larger than 22 inches long, 14 inches wide and 8 inches high, and weighs no more than 15-40 pounds depending on the airline.
And Even as a Personal Item
A box can count as a carry on item as long as it is no larger than 17 inches long, 10 inches wide and 9 inches high, and fits underneath the seat in front of you on the plane.
Checking in a Box is Probably a Bad Idea
Considering that the same weight and size restrictions apply to boxes as they do for suitcases, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend checking in a box unless precautions are taken.
You would probably be better off buying a used suitcase and transporting items that way.
If you really want to check in a box, make sure that you use a very sturdy box, place added protection inside and outside the box, and use plenty of bubble wrap to protect its contents with as little free space left in the box as possible.
Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.
Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.
Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).