Why Aren't There Donation Boxes At The Airport?

Living & Giving


I WISH my suitcase was stuffed like this!!!

I WISH my suitcase was stuffed like this!!!



When I flew to DC on Saturday, I (of course) packed for two weeks. I included suits, dresses, a gown, PJs, pumps, an winter dress coat, and then the regular clothes. As I approached baggage check, I dreaded that I would be over 50 lbs (checked bag fee + an overweight fee = NOOOO!). And, obviously, my giant suitcase was 56.5 lbs. Even after, I switched some shirts and a pair of gymshoes to my carry-on AND put on an extra sweater, I was still at 54.5 lbs. Grrr…At this point, I seriously was prepared to just give away some sweaters or a pair of jeans. I asked the AA representative if there were donation boxes in the airport, and she told me “No.”

Wait, what?

Am I the only person who think that is a good idea? I always overpack for trips and am always wishing that I didn’t bring that extra sweater, Illinois t-shirt, or whatever. And, I’m sure I’m not the only person who has been up against the gun (or weight scale) when trying to make it through security and to the gate in 45 mins!

I’m sure there are security reasons or logistical nightmares associated with having donation boxes in airports, but I think it should be worth a try! Does anyone agree??



Oh, to end my story, the representative suggested that I take my extra coat out of my suitcase, and if I got it to 51 lbs, she’d let me slide. I did it, and voila…It worked!!! 50.5 lbs! But, my body definitely hurt after carrying a 25 lb carry-on, my big black purse (housing my laptop, gymshoes, water, etc…), my black winter coat, and my white winter coat. 🙁

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  • Reply
    January 17, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    @la negrita:

    Kudos to you for being able to travel abroad and pack only one bag between two people…It’s quite the accomplishment! I understand how you could be annoyed by someone who doesn’t have your keen packing ability. I, myself, have plenty of pet peeves. One of them being when someone proposes a charitable idea and another person out of sheer pettiness attempts to shoot it down because of their unique, dare I say, super-natural packing prowess.

    You should totally write a blog with travel tips (specifically packing) for “selfish” packers. How about “The Pretentious Packer?” That way we can both do our part to make the world a better place.

    Your argument against this is ridiculous. Operating costs??? No. I’m sure the Salvation Army would be more than thrilled to come down to the airport, drop a box, and grab any clothes. I, even, had some flight attendants tell me that they took clothes to donate on their own. I just can’t understand how donating clothes is ever a “selfish” idea.

    All snideness aside, the reality is that this happens. People overpack. I’m just trying to find a solution that has a positive impact for people in need.

  • Reply
    la negrita
    January 17, 2009 at 11:20 am


    I’m being “judgmental” because this whole thing could be avoided if people we more practical when packing for a trip. I wouldn’t call myself well-traveled just yet, but I’ve done my fair share. Just last year my mother and I went to Trinidad and we have ONE checked bag between the both of us. And the ultimate example–something that I hope to accomplish one day–comes from a trip to Switzerland some years ago. I went with a tour group, and there was a couple in our group that only packed a carry-on…for a week-long trip! What did they do? Layered their clothing so they could peel off what they wished, and recycled the same item for a few days. A fashionista’s nightmare, but very smart and savvy. It can be done. Would it be nice if the airport had a donation box? Yes, but that’s not their job or problem. Not only that, but it would probably increase their operating cost in some way. And we all know they’re NOT trying to find new ways to spend money.

  • Reply
    January 16, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    La Negrita,

    Why are so judgemental? They accomodate heavy packers at a cost — you pay more for an overweight bag, or you toss some of your stuff. Again — trying to make something good out of a hopeless situation. If you choose to lighten your load, it should go to charity.

    Do you weigh your baggage before you leave for the airport? You must since you’re sitting on that high horse. Not everyone does.

  • Reply
    la negrita
    January 16, 2009 at 8:32 pm


    But don’t you think it’s a little selfish to expect the airport to accommodate you because you just HAD to take 3 different outfits for each day? Let’s say the DID have donation boxes. If you used it, did you really need to bring the item in the first place? If you’re working a good chunk of the time, you definitely only need a couple of suits. Black goes with everything, and one of the benefits of a suit is that you can wear the pieces with other items.

    Haha @ your inconveniences. I find children and babies annoying as much as the next single, 20-something, but they are human beings! Definitely takes priority over clothes. To each his own though.

  • Reply
    January 15, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    I love to be self-righteous as much as the next person, but sometimes the situation just calls for more clothes in a suitcase! Being in a city for 16 days and working 12-15 hrs/day in a suit for 9 of those days doesn’t really leave any room for laundry/dry cleaning so adjustments must be made. And, I couldn’t wear my everyday winter coat to a formal event! Things just happen and sometimes utilitarian chic just can’t cut it…

    Besides, I usually pack reasonably…I can squeeze 4 days into a carry-on (mind you it may be a very boring wardrobe-filled 4 days)!

    @ la negrita: I can think of 1000 more inconvenient things at the airport…Like babies, strollers, coughers, seat neighbors with bad BO/breath, people who stand too close in line, etc!

    Regardless of your preferred packing methods, the point of the post is about putting a donation box in an airport so people who overpack can give away some of their clothes. Tis all 🙂

  • Reply
    January 15, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    La Negrita and Expert Traveler.

    You’re missing the point. You’re not going to change people’s behavior. People overpack. But you can take advantage of that
    very human tendancy and benefit those less fortunate.

  • Reply
    expert traveler
    January 15, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    I’m with La Negrita,

    as i was reading your story my first thought was take out the extra coat. Honestly, a donation box would never be needed if people only packed what they needed and realized the don’t need a pant and skirt option for every day they travel.

    I pack light, and if i really need something i buy it when i get there, travel is more fun that way…….

  • Reply
    la negrita
    January 14, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    I am always amazed at how much stuff some people bring on a trip! If I didn’t have to bring a gown along, I would def have all my stuff in a carry-on only. The is to take things that are interchangeable. This also challenges your sense of style, because if you have a limited amount of items to work with you HAVE to be creative.

    I am secretly happy they implemented stricter rules for luggage. I haaaaate having to check my carry-on because there isn’t enough room in the overhead bins. Why should I suffer because some a-holes don’t know how to pack?!

  • Reply
    January 14, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    LOL @ ur 56.5 lbs. How long are you going to be there again? But I feel you. I’m a pack rat myself. I am just tryna rein it in b/c I’ve been traveling a lot. I got a carry on wheeling thing that is AMAZING b/c its small but can fit a hell of a lot of stuff. I love it so.

    And yes, they should have donating boxes at the airport. Folks are ALWAYS over or checking in food they can’t. Instead of it all getting thrown out, they oughta donate to salvation army. You should consider looking into that.

  • Reply
    January 14, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    I complain about the same lack of donation boxes every time I travel. It seems like an awesome opportunity.

    Is it a safety issue? Or just a lack of social responsibility?

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