Balancing scales

Piece Concept vs Weight Concept

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When it comes to air travel, one of the most confusing aspects for many passengers is baggage allowance. Airlines have different rules and regulations when it comes to baggage, including how much weight or how many pieces of luggage you can bring.

If you have never flown beyond North or South America, you may not even be aware that there is more than one type of baggage allowance concept used. Within the Americas, the piece concept dominates. If you do ever fly in other parts of the world, you may encounter the weight concept. It can be confusing at first, to understand how the weight concept works. This article will (hopefully) make it clear.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at what the piece and weight concept baggage allowances are, how they differ, where they’re used, and which is better.

Piece Concept Baggage Allowance

The piece concept is the most common type of baggage allowance in the United States. Under this concept, the number of bags allowed is based on the number of pieces of luggage rather than their weight. For example, if an airline allows two pieces of luggage per passenger (thank you Southwest), then you can bring two suitcases or two duffel bags or any combination of bags up to a maximum of two.

Most airlines that use the piece concept allow passengers to bring two pieces of luggage on board the plane. However, this can vary depending on the airline and the class of travel. For example, first-class passengers may be allowed to bring three or four pieces of luggage.

It’s important to note that there are restrictions on the size and weight of each piece of luggage. For example, most airlines have a maximum weight limit of 50 pounds per piece, and the maximum dimensions of each piece cannot exceed 62 inches (length + width + height).

Weight Concept Baggage Allowance

The weight concept is less common in the United States but is used by some airlines, particularly those that operate in Europe and Asia. Under this concept, the baggage allowance is based on the weight of the luggage rather than the number of pieces. For example, if an airline allows 50 pounds of luggage per passenger, then you can bring one suitcase that weighs 50 pounds or two suitcases that weigh 25 pounds each.

When the weight concept is in effect, the weight limit for each bag is usually 70 pounds, across all cabin classes. For example, if your baggage weight allowance is 60 pounds, you could travel with one bag weighing 30 pounds, another weighing 15 pounds, and a third bag weighing 5 pounds.

Theoretically, airlines don’t impose a limit on the number of bags that you can distribute your weight allowance across. However, operationally, most airlines limit the number of bags to ten.

When it comes to navigating baggage allowance, it’s important to understand which concept your airline is using. This information can usually be found on the airline’s website or by contacting their customer service department.

If your airline is using the piece concept, it’s important to consider the number of pieces of luggage you need to bring and their size and weight. For example, if you’re traveling with a family of four, you may be allowed to bring eight pieces of luggage in total. However, you need to ensure that each piece of luggage meets the size and weight requirements of the airline.

If your airline is using the weight concept, it’s important to consider the total weight of your luggage and how many suitcases you need to bring to stay within the weight limit.

Many non-U.S. airlines use both concepts, However, only one is in effect for a particular route. Generally, if your flight is within, to, or from the Americas, airlines will use the piece concept. For most other destinations, the weight concept will be in effect.

To make matters even more confusing, as of 2019, Vietnam Airlines exclusively applies the piece concept baggage allowance on all its itineraries. So, airlines have a certain degree of freedom to decide which concept to apply.

If you are intending on booking a flight exclusively outside of the Americas, it’s important that you pay close attention to the baggage allowance concept being applied to your trip. This information will be clearly displayed during the booking process. It will also be detailed in your reservation email.

Which Baggage Allowance Concept is Better?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to which system is better, as each system has its advantages and disadvantages.

The piece concept baggage allowance is easier to understand, as passengers know exactly how many bags they can bring and how much each bag can weigh. However, it can be restrictive, especially for passengers who need to bring a lot of items with them.

The weight concept baggage allowance, on the other hand, is more flexible, as passengers can bring as many bags as they want, as long as the total weight of all the bags combined does not exceed the limit. However, it can be more complicated to calculate, as passengers need to weigh their bags to ensure they are within the limit.

This can be of benefit to less-abled travelers. For example, if you’re unable to lift heavy items, you can distribute your belongings across more bags.

Final Thoughts

It can be confusing at first to understand how the weight concept works. The way I view it is that I have a total amount of luggage that I wish to bring with me. I can then decide how many bags I wish to distribute it in. It’s because of this feature, that I prefer the weight concept over piece concept. I am able to organize my luggage more effectively.

However, the truth is, we don’t have much choice in what concept will apply to our trip. That’s primarily determined by where we are traveling to/from.

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Hands Off My Suitcase
Hands Off My Suitcase
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