Navigating airports can be quite an adventure, and often, the use of luggage carts becomes a necessity to tackle the journey with ease. What if we told you that there are ways to save and even make money with these handy airport companions? Let’s explore some tips and tricks.

How to Save and Make Money with Airport Luggage Carts!

Start by being resourceful as you search for free luggage carts. You can often find abandoned ones in the airport Arrivals area after passengers have finished using them and checked in for their flights. This little-known secret can save you money since you won’t need to rent one yourself. Additionally, keep an eye out for free carts provided near the international arrivals areas, as some airports tend to offer them at no charge.

While saving money is a great perk, you may be surprised to learn that you can actually make money with airport luggage carts too. Some airports have a return incentive system, allowing you to earn a small amount of cash for returning used carts to designated areas. This can even become a fun activity as you roam the airport, helping others unload and gathering carts to return – all while earning money for your efforts!

Yep, I will tell you a personal story about having the kids doing this on a long layover. It was the best! 

Travel easier with one of these top-rated best folding luggage carts.

Saving Money on Luggage Carts When You Get to the Airport

Here are a few ways to save money when utilizing luggage carts at the airport.

First and foremost, keep an eye out for abandoned carts near the arrivals area. People often leave their used ones after checking in for their flights. Capitalize on this opportunity by snagging a free cart, and avoid paying unnecessary fees.

Another approach to dodging baggage cart costs is by prepaying for your checked bags. Prepaying for checked bags can be done at least 24 hours before your flight through the airline’s website. To do this, enter your confirmation number under “My Trips,” then select “Prepay bags” and follow the steps. This way, you’ll save money, as well as time, since you won’t need a cart for your checked bags. For example, you can do this on United Airlines.

Here are a few more tips to reduce your reliance on using a cart:

  • Pack efficiently: Bring only essential items to minimize the number of bags needed. This way, you can manage your luggage without a cart.
  • Use a backpack: A comfortable, sturdy backpack can store assorted items and potentially lessen the need for an additional suitcase.
  • Opt for a rolling suitcase: Select a suitcase with wheels, as this makes transportation much easier, reducing the need for additional support at the airport.

Saving Money on Luggage Carts When You Land

When you land at your destination airport, you may want to know how to save money on luggage carts. Be aware that some airports provide free luggage carts in certain areas, such as international arrivals. Make sure to check and see if that is an option where you’re landing.

Another thing you can do to save money is to look for abandoned luggage carts near the baggage claim area. Often, travelers leave behind their used ones once they have claimed their baggage. Take advantage of these unreturned ones to avoid paying rental fees for a new cart.

If you’re unable to find a free or abandoned cart, consider teaming up with a fellow traveler who might also be looking for a cart. By sharing one, you can both save money and make it more convenient to carry your bags.

Lastly, consider bringing your own lightweight, foldable luggage cart or dolly with you on your trip. This can save you money on cart rental fees and make it easier to transport your luggage once you’ve landed.

You Can Even Make Money!

Did you know that it’s possible to make money while waiting for your flight with airport luggage carts? It may sound surprising, but some airports offer incentives for passengers who return the abandoned ones. This is a great opportunity to make use of your spare time at the airport, save money, and even earn a small profit.

Start by keeping an eye open around the airport. Many travelers leave their carts unattended once they have finished using them. The more carts you find and return, the more money you can potentially make. For example, you can get 25 cents or more for everyone you return, which can add up quickly if you find multiple carts.

Obviously, it’s essential to be considerate of other travelers and not take carts that are still in use. Be sure you’re only retrieving truly abandoned ones to avoid inconveniencing fellow passengers. Also, know that not all airports offer this kind of incentive, so be sure to check if your specific airport does before hunting for carts.

To make the most of this opportunity, consider incorporating the following tips:

  • Use your time wisely: If you have a long layover or arrive at the airport well ahead of your flight, use that extra time to find and return them.
  • Stay in high-traffic areas: Focus your search in areas where travelers are more likely to leave carts, like near baggage claim, parking lots, or pick-up/drop-off areas.
  • For fun, keep track of your earnings: Keep the coins or tokens you receive separately from your regular pocket change to ensure you know how much you’ve earned.

Here’s a story you’ll enjoy about a layover my wife and I had with my kids on our way to Spain years ago. We had a good bit of time to kill, and my kids were getting a bit restless. So, I had an idea. I figured we could make the most of our time and get the kids some exercise.

I sent my son and daughter off to round up unused airport luggage carts and return them to make a little money. It was hours before they were back, pushing carts around and having a grand old time. They were so excited to be making money and getting some exercise at the same time.

Over the course of our layover, my son and daughter made nearly $50. My son made $35 of that himself, and he was so proud of his earnings. He started asking people if he could help them unload luggage and told them he would return their carts for them. 

It was a great way to pass the time and make the most of our layover.

I’m a constant teacher, much to my kids chagrin. I hoped they learned the value of hard work and the satisfaction that comes from earning your own money. And, of course, they had a lot of fun doing it.

So, if you ever find yourself with a long layover and some restless kids, consider sending them off to round up airport luggage carts. 

What Are Those Carts at the Airport Called?

You’ve probably noticed those helpful carts at the airport, designed to make transporting your luggage easier. They are often called “luggage carts” or “baggage carts.” They are designed to carry suitcases, bags, and other personal belongings, providing convenience for travelers during their airport journey.

Luggage carts are typically found near the check-in counters, baggage claim areas, and sometimes in parking lots. They come in various sizes and styles, with a common feature being the metal frame and wheels, allowing you to effortlessly push your belongings around the airport. Some also have additional features, such as hooks for hanging smaller bags or handles to make them easier to control.

While some airports provide these carts for free, it’s not uncommon for U.S. airports to charge a fee for their use. This fee can range from a couple of dollars to $5 or more, depending on the airport. In some cases, a deposit is required, which you’ll get back upon returning the cart to a designated collection point. To avoid this fee, keep an eye out for alternative ways to transport your luggage, such as carrying it yourself or using a foldable luggage trolley.

Now that you know what those carts at the airport are called and where to find them, you can plan your next trip more efficiently. Remember, being informed about these small details can help save you time, effort, and potentially money, making your overall airport experience a more pleasant one.

Why Do Airports Charge for Luggage Carts?

One reason airports in the United States charge for luggage carts is due to the economics of airports. Passenger facility charges in the US are capped at $4.50 per passenger, so airports might provide fewer amenities and could be understaffed compared to airports in other countries.

To make up for this, charging for carts can generate additional revenue to help cover operational costs. Many airports partner with private companies to provide cart services, allowing them to save on upfront expenses and potentially generate long-term profits.

One effective strategy for airports to offset the cost of purchasing luggage carts is to partner with airport vendors. For example, Blue Grass Airport in Lexington (LEX) collaborated with their parking vendor, Republic, to manage cart operations and eventually purchase the carts outright.

Another way for airports to increase revenue is by using data analytics to improve the efficiency of their baggage handling systems. By analyzing operational data, airports can identify areas for improvement, leading to cost savings.

In addition, airports can promote a positive customer experience by adapting the luggage carts to meet travelers’ requirements. Conducting research and studying customer preferences can help tailor the carts to their needs, ultimately increasing overall satisfaction and generating more revenue for the airport.

By employing these strategies and understanding stakeholders’ needs, airports try to find various ways to save and generate profit through various operations.

Keep in mind that not all US airports charge for luggage carts, and the prices can vary. It’s essential for you to be prepared and consider your options when traveling by air.


In summary, there are multiple ways in which you can save and make money with airport luggage carts. Consider searching for them in baggage claim areas, as some airports may offer them without charge to improve passenger satisfaction. Meanwhile, you can save money on your own transport if you’re traveling with a lot of luggage.

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