How to take two rugs back to US from Morocco??
June 13, 2014 10:52 AM   Subscribe

We are in Morocco, flying back to the US via Madrid on Sunday...bought rugs today without thinking about how to get them home with us!

We have two flights on Sunday... The first is Marrakech to Madrid on that local Iberia airline, don't have name with me right now... Then Madrid to NYC via Iberia but it also seems to be American Airlines...

We bought two rugs by the roadside from Berbers today without receipts... Spent a few hundred dollars each.. The sellers rolled and folded them very nicely, securing them tightly with much tape... What is the story with putting objects like that through to baggage?

The good news is that, until we bought these rugs, we each (we are three people) had one carry-on suitcase each plus each has a backpack, so these rugs are our only "luggage" that needs to be checked through. Checking the American Airlines site for specialty items, there is nothing referring to this type of parcel, each one of which is roughly the size of a carry-on type of suitcase, or maybe somewhat bulkier, but I doubt thicker than a large suitcase (maybe 24" cube), I don't have them with me at the moment to check...

Any ideas about how to deal with this??????
posted by DMelanogaster to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total)
I've checked weirder-shaped things than a nicely rolled-and-secured rug. I don't know about the local Iberia Airline, but it should be no problem at all on American. Assume they will get tossed around and abused, so make quadruple-sure that they are well secured, and that there is somewhere that the checked-luggage tag can be attached easily where it won't fall off.
posted by brainmouse at 10:54 AM on June 13, 2014

Iberia and British Airways merged a while ago and have a formal business agreement with American Airlines so for all intents and purposes this should be the same ticket and I would expect them to check your luggage through to New York (but then again what do I know).

Be sure to arrive early at the airport to make sure you can go to wherever bulky luggage has to be checked and can pay whatever additional fees they may charge without having to worry about missing your flight.
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:02 AM on June 13, 2014

Response by poster: Sorry to sit, the first airline is Air Nostrum.
posted by DMelanogaster at 11:02 AM on June 13, 2014

If the airport has a curbside check-in, sometimes it's worth checking awkward packages there and greasing the wheels with a tip. It can be cheaper than excess/oversized luggage fees and once the bag is properly marked by the "gatekeeper," so to speak, it's clear sailing from there.
posted by craven_morhead at 11:04 AM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

They take trombones and golf bags, so well secured rugs shouldn't be a problem. Can you get someone to make a box for you? Perhaps someone at your hotel can recommend someone to help with this.

What size is the parcel now, length, width and about how much does it weigh?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:14 AM on June 13, 2014

I would also suggest if you are doing this without a box to cover them in either thick plastic wrap or a thick plastic bag. The airlines and customs are going to attach various stickers and tags, and they aren't terribly careful about where.
posted by Gneisskate at 11:17 AM on June 13, 2014

If it were me, I would buy a cheap suitcase that fits both the rugs (or two cheap suitcases) and check them like that.
posted by Joh at 11:18 AM on June 13, 2014

Maybe a cheap duffel bag that you can stuff them into.
posted by mareli at 11:24 AM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I checked a rug from Marrakech to SFO with no issues. If it's wrapped in plastic you shouldn't need anything else. Otherwise you can get a cheapo plastic duffel bag for a couple of dollars and check the rug in that. The alternative would be shipping it, which is surprisingly easy (I shipped a light fixture on the same trip) but expensive.
posted by tealcake at 11:37 AM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

We bought two rugs on a recent trip to Morocco, and had no trouble getting them back to NY via Air France. I think this is a really common purchase for tourists in Morocco, and everyone seemed to know the routine at the airport, with lots of corny jokes about "flying carpets". They were wrapped in plastic/tape similar to what you described. The taped up packages seemed pretty secure and we were considering just checking them as-is, but for various reasons ended up taking one on board as a carry-on (it fit in the overhead bin), and the other one we packed with other items into a suitcase and checked it (which I think was overweight so we had to pay an extra $30 or so).
posted by bobafet at 12:22 PM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

This seems like what those weird expensive luggage plastic wrap machines were made for. I'd put the rugs inside something like a plastic bag or paper wrapping, then send through the plastic wrap machine.

I bought a rug in Turkey and just put it into my suitcase and checked it. It was a smallish kilim, though, and is the sort of thing that folds up easily.

Nthing that it's a very common purchase and the only real consideration here is the best way to luggage-ize the rugs, not like customs or anything.
posted by Sara C. at 12:37 PM on June 13, 2014

We did literally just that two weeks ago, except to London after Madrid. Ours was a little more expensive and RAK has some weird reviews online (though we had no problems) so we just took it on the plane. Two people, two backpacks, one purse, one rug. No questions or comments at all. The plane was seriously tiny so we gate-checked the backpacks but the rug was totally fine. Have some mint tea for me!
posted by jetlagaddict at 2:19 PM on June 13, 2014

I live in Alaska and when you fly out of our local airport you can be sure that the check-in staff and baggage handlers there have dealt with every sort of fish packaging of which you can conceive. I think it's going to be very likely that when you get to the international departures terminal in Marrakech you're going to find a similar level of experience handling carpets. What for you may be a once-in-a-lifetime special event is probably a daily occurrence for them.

I would try to find either a duffel or heavy plastic sheeting to wrap around the rugs and protect them in transit, and I'd reinforce with heavy tape AND make sure your destination airport and name were clearly visible on multiple sides of the parcel, but I don't think anybody is going to be much surprised to find tourists departing Morocco with rugs.

They sound like a great souvenir. I am sure everything will go smoothly and I hope you enjoy them for years to come.
posted by Nerd of the North at 2:31 PM on June 13, 2014

I found a cool little rug someone seemed to have abandoned in Casablanca. I just rolled it up myself and carried it on the plane back to New York.
posted by IfIShouldEverComeBack at 3:27 PM on June 13, 2014

Response by poster: There was absolutely no problem checking the rugs! thank you
posted by DMelanogaster at 5:13 AM on June 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

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