Think about the last time you moved house… you probably did it all by moving truck, right? Or by hiring a van and lugging your belongings from A to B? I won’t fault these strategies – they’re both tried and tested. But for my recent relocation from Brisbane to Melbourne, I looked for something a little more out-of-the-box. Something with a hint of added creativity.

Then a thought hits me. What if I moved house by plane? Evidently, I’m no stranger to the skies – having both Qantas Platinum and Velocity Platinum up my sleeve. And as it happened, I’d already be visiting Melbourne a further nine times over the period between deciding to move and actually settling in.

As somebody who flies with just a carry-on bag whenever I can, the next realisation takes me a moment. But it finally occurs to me. As a Platinum member, I can bring a lot of extra checked baggage: for free. On some domestic bookings, I could pack as much as 110kg per trip for no extra cost. And that’s true even on tickets booked using points, where the actual cash cost of each take-off is less than $50.

All of a sudden, my regular Boeing 737 flights down the East Coast become a savvy way to move interstate. And in the end, it’d save me thousands of dollars. Here’s a look at how my ambitious plans came together.

Moving house by Boeing 737: the outline

Knowing I’d have nine flights from Brisbane to Melbourne to work around, I put my planning hat on. As somebody who’s never come close to exceeding a domestic baggage allowance before, it makes me curious. Exactly how much can I pack as a Platinum member and get away with it? Here goes.

  • Qantas Economy: 2x32kg checked bags plus 14kg in the cabin (78kg total).
  • Qantas Business: 3x32kg checked bags plus 14kg cabin baggage (110kg total).
  • Virgin Australia Economy Class: 3x23kg checked bags plus 14kg in the cabin (83kg total).
  • Virgin Australia Business Class: 3x32kg checked baggage and 14kg of cabin baggage (110kg total).

I review my plans, and I can see that on Qantas, I’ll have two trips to take in Economy. I have the rest on Virgin Australia – mainly because I’d already retained Qantas Platinum for my membership year. That, and I didn’t want my free Velocity Platinum upgrades to go to waste. Of those Virgin Australia flights, three would be in Business Class thanks to those upgrades, and the remaining four in Economy Class.

Thanks to my fare classes and Platinum cards, I’d have up to 818kg of free baggage across the nine journeys I’d be taking anyway. So, suddenly, moving house by Boeing 737 makes a whole lot of sense.

Moving house by suitcase
While I toggled between different bags at times, I didn’t exactly need to travel light.

Okay, sure. This strategy wouldn’t make as much sense for somebody who’d be booking flights just for the baggage limits. But I’ve been a very frequent visitor to Melbourne for a while now, for both business and leisure. It’s also home to Point Hacks‘ corporate head office – thus my move. And when the decision came to take on an office role – rather than phoning it in and flying every few weeks for one reason or another – putting those existing baggage limits to use makes a whole lot of sense.

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Moving house by Boeing 737: the strategy

Here’s where the real planning takes place. I know that on some flights, I’ll be capped at 23kg per bag. And that on other journeys, I’ll be able to squeeze in up to 32kg per suitcase. I don’t want to incur excess baggage fees when travelling on those ’23kg per bag’ tickets – so I set down my game plan.

On those flights where I’m limited at 23kg per bag, I’ll bring along lighter goods – but ones that are larger and bulkier, to fill the bags up. For instance, a suitcase full of shoes, another with puffy winter jackets. You get the idea. Where I can pack to 32kg, I’ll bring smaller, heavier goods. Things like linens, towels, books and so on.

How I moved house by Boeing 737
Even though one journey took me via Sydney, my bags always arrived on the belt, just like clockwork.

But where would I leave them in Melbourne while looking for a house? Simple: a storage unit. And I have a stroke of luck. I book a small locker to get me started – during a 60% off sale at that. And if that weren’t lucky enough, something else happens. On the day I arrive to secure my space, all the small lockers – the size I’d booked – are already full. So I’m given a free upgrade to the next category up: a larger walk-in unit. In other words, I’m paying barely anything for a space that can fit a literal tonne of personal belongings.

Even I’m impressed at how it’s all coming together!

Moving house by Boeing 737: the execution

I’ve got the baggage allowance all sorted. Now I just need to physically get my things here, ready to move into my new house. In the end, I didn’t quite come close to using the maximum theoretical 818kg.

On my two Qantas trips in Economy, I end up packing around 25kg per suitcase. It may not be the full 32kg, but there’s only so much you can fit into each bag. And it’s still more than I could have taken on those flights with a lighter per-bag limit. I do, however, make full use of the 14kg carry-on limit to move some fragile things.

So far, we’re up to 128kg moved for free on Qantas. I pack a similar amount on my Virgin Australia Business Class flights. But with three free bags on every run rather than two, that’s nine suitcases plus six cabin bags worth of goodies added to the pile. All up, another 267kg or so. We’re up to 395kg – but I’m not done yet.

Carrying belongings in suitcases
Fortunately, my bags are all of the four-wheel kind: or in the case of my laptop bag, it has a pass-through.

With four more trips in Virgin Australia Economy Class, I end up packing around 20kg per checked bag. With three checked bags per flight, that’s a further 240kg in the hold – plus 56kg of carry-on. And voila, that’s another 296kg that’s made its way down to Melbourne.

All up, that’s around 691kg moved interstate for free, thanks to my dual Platinum cards. That’s 25 checked bags and 18 carry-ons. Oh, and to make things easy, all my suitcases fit inside each other – not unlike Matryoshka dolls. So when it’s time to fly home to Brisbane before the next run, I’m only waiting to collect one bag at baggage claim.

The benefits of moving by plane

You might be wondering, what about my furniture? Well, I’m sorry to say, I didn’t book out a row of seats for my dining table – or have a section of the cabin reconfigured to accommodate a sofa. That seemed a little too extreme, even for me. Instead, the big stuff came by shipping container.

But even with a container en route, bringing my smaller things down separately had a really big advantage. Furniture-wise, I just about filled one shipping container. If I’d moved everything else to my new home in the same way, it’d have spilled over into a second container. That would have hiked my moving costs considerably: by a four-figure sum.

Sure, it was hard work lugging suitcases up and down the East Coast. But I got there, and the savings made the hassle worthwhile. And hey, now that I’m actually living in the same city as my office, there won’t be as many early morning flights for meetings and the like. I can’t say I’ll miss those 3:30 am alarms during daylight savings months!

Melbourne hasn’t just been a second home to me before moving, it has a special place in my heart. It’s the first city I dared travel to as an adult, way back when. It’s a city I was also fortunate to frequent as a child – I used to collect the paper tram tickets. Some of my family members grew up here too. As for me now, it’s no longer my second home. It’s just home.

Also read: Why I happily spend (some of) my points on domestic Economy

All photography by Chris Chamberlin.

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How I moved house by Boeing 737 was last modified: March 18th, 2024 by Chris Chamberlin