TAKE MY BAGS, PLEASE

The luggage-shipping business seems to be growing right along with those airport security lines. Luggage Express (866shipbags.com) shipped 3 million suitcases in 2004--about six times the volume it had the prior year. Luggage Express, along with Virtual Bellhop (virtual bellhop.com), and Sky Cap International (skycapinternational.com), have built a following among individuals happy to pay $70 to $150 per bag to avoid airport agita. The companies will pick luggage up at travelers' homes or offices and deliver it within a day or two to most domestic and many international destinations.

About half of Luggage Express's clients are business travelers, some of whom buy into the company's LE Club; for $995 a year, they get 20 shipments. Vacationers constitute a higher percentage at Bellhop and Skycap International, both of which got their starts catering to cruise-line passengers. Clients of all three companies find discounts through various affiliations and joint-marketing deals. Citibank credit-card holders, for example, can get discounts at Luggage Express. Virtual Bellhop deals are offered to some American Express cardholders and cruise-ship customers. All the companies claim stellar delivery records, but smart travelers don't just avoid airport lines. They carry on a change of clothes and that must-have presentation, just in case.

TAKE MY BAGS, PLEASE | News