There was a time when airline baggage fees were for the overpackers; those unable to abide by weight limits or single suitcases. No longer. These days charging for checked bags has become standard, and those "ancillary fees" are the only thing that keeps airlines profits growing.
What’s a passenger to do? Pack lighter or pay up are the obvious choices. But there is a third way, if you have the requisite amount of fashion courage: wearable luggage.
The Jaktogo was invented by John Power in 2010. It’s a long-sleeved, polyester coat with 14 pockets that the company says can accommodate some 33 pounds of luggage. It basically looks like a garbage bag that you wear. But then, it was never intended to be fashionable. In fact, the company strongly advises that you wear it as little as possible, and avoid sitting while wearing it. "Think of the Jaktogo as of a rain coat," they wrote me. "You only wear the rain coat when it's raining and not when the sun is shining." Just replace "rain" with "boarding a plane." The company has since iterated on the concept, creating the Ponchotogo and the Dresstogo.
The Rufus Roo is a more comically named, red-striped version of the same idea. Creator Andrew Gaule made his first prototype by crudely stitching and stapling orange and white parachute material he bought on eBay. The customers who appear on the website do appear satisfied with the result. Satisfied and ridiculous.
The Stuffa is a vest-style compromise between wearable luggage and actual clothing. "Designed to help beat excess baggage charges but also perfect for short trips, long walks, festival-going—or for keeping you warm when you're out and about," the Stuffa website insists. As a result of its more conventional appearance, the stated capacity is about one-third of the Jaktogo (5 kilograms or approximately 11 pounds). Its creator Sandro Cafasso launched it for sale in the UK, but says it will be coming to the USA in the next few weeks.
All of these products arose from frustration with baggage fees; all of them could potentially un-tip the scale and keep you fee-less. Whether they are worth the price—and the fashion faux pas-is a choice that only you can make.