Gate Checking vs “Valet Checking” Your Bag At the Aircraft Door

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30/12/2008 – Gate Checking vs “Valet Checking” Your Bag At the Aircraft Door

As a frequent flyer who’s ‘home’ airport is only services by turbo-prop aircraft and who’s two alternate primary airports are heavily services by regional jets, I am often forced to ‘valet check’ my full-size carry on bag at the door.  Throughout discussing travel and carry-on bags on Flying With Fish I have frequently referenced ‘valet checked’ baggage or stair checked baggage, but I am careful not to use the term ‘gate checked baggage.’

Having reread some of the e-mails I have received this past year I see there is some confusion regarding ‘valet checked’ and ‘gate checked’ baggage.  So hopefully this e-mail will clearly define what the differences are and why I despise being forced to gate-check my bags.

1) ‘Valet Check’ is a term used by American Airlines as well as some other airlines that is synonymous with stair checking and planeside checking your bag on regional aircraft.

When you ‘valet check’ you bag you leave it at the door or the stairs of the aircraft upon entry. Your bag is tagged to be redelivered to you upon your arrival upon landing at the bottom of the stairs, or in the jetway.

When you leave your bag to ‘valet checked’ the bag is never inter-mingled with checked baggage, your bag never leaves the immediate area surrounding the aircraft, there is virtually no opportunity for your bag to be lost, delayed, stolen, or opened and stolen from. .

For more information ‘Valet Checking’ your bag check out this post : 22/09/2008 – Leaving Your Bag At The Stairs On Regional Flights, AKA: Valet Check, Stair Check, Planeside Check

2) Gate Checking is when you literally check your baggage at the gate.  Gate checked baggage is tagged to be delivered to your final destination, not your next connection flight.  Once you Gate Check your bag with the agent it is sent down to the checked baggage area, loaded with the rest of the check baggage and subject to the abuse and potential tampering associated with all checked baggage when flying commercial airlines.

So when you are flying with any commercial airline and told you need to leave your bag at the door you should always check where your bag is headed.  As common practice when I walk out the gate door for a regional flight I make sure I personally load my own bag onto the ‘valet check’ cart. If I am told to leave my bag at the door to be Gate Checked I ask for a supervisor and seek clarification, and in the rare case of being told a flight is to full and my bag must be checked, I get off the flight and require the airline to rebook me on the next available flight.

Hopefully this clears up the difference between ‘Valet Checked’ and ‘Gate Checked’ baggage.

Below is a photo of my Mountainsmith Correspondent roll-aboard bag sitting all by its self on a ‘valet checked’ baggage cart at Philadelphia International Airports (PHL).

Happy Flying!
–Click Image Below To Enlarge–

a bag on a bench


  1. Have you valet checked the new GURA bag and if so how did it and the equipment inside fair?

  2. Calvin,

    I have not ‘valet’ checked the Gura Gear Kiboko bag yet,and it looks like I may never have to at this rate. The Gura Gear Kiboko has easily been able to slide under the seats of the Canadair Regional Jet & Dash-8 Turbo-Props I have flown with it.

    I have a feeling it may not fit under the seats on an Embraer 135/145, especially in the single-seat side (usually the “A” seat). Normally I’ll fly an EMB-145 somewhat often, however the route I normally fly an EMB-145 on has recently been switched to a CRJ, which fits the Kiboko under the seat with some ease….and a gentle shove of my foot.

    Happy Flying!


  3. Do I need to put some sort of tag or identification on a bag ahead of time if I know it will be valet-checked?

  4. My carry on was taken from me and valet checked. When I got it back it was damaged. What Rights do I have being there is no actual paper trail?

  5. Does anyone know what size the valet bags can be? Is it the same as for carried on? I am asking because I go to airports where they do valet and not carry in ons.

  6. Hi Fish, I have two separate flight tickets. I plan to valet check departing with United sky west. Then arriving in Denver, I get and go to my next flight gate with Luthansa. Is the desk at the gate where I check my on through to Germany?

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