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Close up of business man rolling his suitcase down a jetbridge
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What Is Valet Check and How Is It Different Than Gate Checking a Bag?

SmarterTravel

After squeezing everything you need for your trip into a carry-on that fits the airline’s allowed dimensions, it’s frustrating to have to check your bag at the gate because the overhead bin is full. When this happens, it’s called “gate checking” and it means you’ll have to wait at baggage claim after your flight lands and collect your bag there. 

However, on certain flights, some airlines will require passengers to “valet check” a bag instead.

What Is Valet Check?

Passengers walking down jetbridge to plane
JinnaritT | Adobe Stock

Valet check is sometimes offered on regional flights using smaller planes that have limited overhead bin space. In these planes, the overhead bins are too small to fit standard carry-on-sized rolling suitcases (they’re typically only big enough for backpacks or duffle bags). 

For example, if you’ve booked a flight on American Airlines that is operated by the smaller American Eagle carrier, the airline says, “Regional flights on American Eagle® planes have limited overhead bin space. If your carry-on is larger than the personal item dimensions, you must valet your bag before boarding. We’ll tag and check your bag at the gate for you free of charge. When you arrive, you’ll receive your bag on the jetbridge after exiting the plane.”

Typically, the gate agent will make an announcement before starting the boarding process stating that passengers with rolling carry-on suitcases must valet check their bag. Flyers will have to take a luggage tag to attach to their carry-on and drop off their suitcase in a designated area when boarding the plane. 

After landing, passengers will need to wait on the jetbridge for the valet checked bags to be delivered. 

How Is Valet Check Different Than Gate Checking a Bag?

Valet Checking is a faster and safer way to check a carry-on bag. Typically, passengers will only have to wait a few minutes to receive their bag on the jetbridge, and they will not have to leave the secured area and go to baggage claim (like they would with gate checking) to pick up their luggage. If you have a tight connection to make, you’ll have a better chance of catching your next flight with valet check than you would with a gate-checked bag. 

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