by Jennifer Nicole Dienst | October 01, 2008

Shipping and handling: Luggage Forward makes a pickup.
I've always been wary of luggage shipping services, but when Boston-based Luggage Forward offered me a trial run, I decided to skip the bag-check line at the airport (and the fee) and give it a shot.

Customers choose to have their bags collected up to five days before departure, and the company promises a full refund, plus $500, if bags don't arrive on time. I had to ship a 30-pound bag from my home in New York to a hotel in Atlanta and chose two-day service to get it there, and overnight service (more expensive) for the return. Even with today's baggage fees, the service isn't a bargain: The total cost was $284.

Shipping makes more sense if you're traveling with multiple, heavy bags. To check an oversize 65-pound bag as a second piece of luggage on a Delta flight, for example, could cost as much as $510. With Luggage Forward, it could run $225.

For my trip, I left my bag with my building's doorman for pickup and, for the return, with the hotel's bellhop. (The hand-off would be trickier for anyone without a doorman or someone at home.) My bag left New York later than expected, but a customer service rep gave me several updates by phone, and when I arrived at my hotel, my bag was there waiting for me.

For planners who absolutely cannot risk delayed or lost luggage, or need to ship oversized luggage, the service is worth considering (as are alternatives offered by FedEx or UPS). The main appeal is convenience — but customers have to be organized, sometimes needing to pack days in advance, and willing to pay the price.