Packing and carrying luggage are unpleasant aspects of travel. If an airline is charging a fee for checking or carrying-on a bag, luggage becomes even more of an annoyance.
To erase those hassles, a luggage-shipping service called Dufl launched in April.
Here’s how it works: a traveler downloads the app (for Apple devices only, as of publication time) and creates an account. The company sends a Dufl-branded suitcase to his or her address, along with shipping labels. Then the customer packs the case with their travel clothes and toiletries — without worrying about airline weight restrictions or the airport security limits on the size of the toiletries — and uses the app to schedule a pick up.
Duffl relies on a major shipping service, typically FedEx, to pick up the bag. It then itemizes the travel goods (photographing them to prove what it received), creates a packing list in the app for the customer that represents all of their items, and stores the belongings in a warehouse.
When a trip comes up, a traveler uses the app to pick which items to pack and then enters their destination hotel and arrival date. Dufl irons and folds the clothes and then packs the bag with the selected items and ships it, usually via FedEx, to a hotel, where it will be waiting for the guest to arrive.
Checkout works the same way in reverse. A traveler schedules a pick-up for the bag, which can be left at the front-desk. Dufl will dry clean the clothes and fold them neatly, storing them for the next trip.
The cost is a fee of $99 round-trip, which assumes three days’ advance notice. Overnight delivery costs about $50 more. The Dufl bag is free, but the cost of storing and cleaning the clothes starts at $10 a month.
The service was available in the United States as of publication time. It aims to expand to Europe and Asia next year.
In the meantime, nothing is to stop a traveler from skipping the courier service (and its middleman’s fees) and dropping their bag off at a FedEx, UPS, or similar shipping service on their own. For example, FedEx recently was charging $86 round-trip to ship a 55-pound bag from Philadelphia to Atlanta with two days’ advance notice.
International shipping of luggage from the US may not become common anytime soon, though. When a bag is shipped overseas from the US, it will typically be detained by customs for inspection and may be slapped with duties and other charges.