16 Jan 7 Ways to Avoid Baggage Fees

Few things will ruin your travel mood faster than unanticipated baggage fees. Overweight or oversize baggage may be classified as cargo and subsequently attract additional charges. The fees will vary depending on a number of factors, including travel route and destination.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to minimize or completely avoid baggage fees. It doesn’t have to involve wearing all your clothes or a similarly dramatic solution. Here are a number of useful practical tips.

1.  Know the Fees

It would surprise you to know just how many travelers get to the airport without the slightest clue as to how much they will pay for checking their baggage. This may have been somewhat understandable in the past, but in the age of the Internet, there’s no excuse for ignorance of the charges.

Since airlines make this information available on their website, print out the fees schedule and make it part of your travel folder.

2.  Weigh Your Bags

Weigh your bags after packing and before you leave for the airport. If your packed bags look and feel decidedly stuffed, you will save yourself money and stress by checking the weight while you still have the time to reorganize the bags or remove what you don’t need.

A bathroom scale can serve this purpose though you might find it difficult to balance a suitcase on it. A better option is a portable luggage scale. It’s pretty cheap and available in most local stores. Since it’s small and compact, you can readily carry it with you wherever your travels take you.

3.  Pay for Extra Bags in Advance Online

It’s almost always significantly cheaper to book extra luggage in advance if you think your bags will tip the scales at the airport. Airlines are pragmatic and understand that passengers won’t always be able to stay within the set size and weight limits.

Ergo, they encourage travelers to plan ahead by providing generous discounts for buying additional baggage online. You are better off acknowledging upfront that you aren’t a light packer than waiting to get to the airport where you’ll have to bear heavy charges.

4.  Pool Baggage

This is where traveling as a group is advantageous. If your bags breach the limit and there’s no way to change that, you can collaborate with your travel partner and spread the extra weight across your combined luggage.

If airline staff weigh all your bags together, it might not be necessary to swap your stuff. However, if they’re rigid and insist on separate weighing, you can simply dash to the bathroom and even out your items.

5.  Ship Your Baggage

Many people will not even give shipping their baggage in advance a second thought. Yet, especially in the USA shipping luggage is not only convenient, but also quite affordable. Sometimes, shipping your bags is less expensive than an airline’s baggage fees, particularly where the bags exceed the weight or size limits.

Remember to plan for the bags’ storage prior to your arrival. Some hotels will charge for this and depending on how long it takes for you to arrive, these charges can erode the savings from shipping the luggage.

6.  Get Lighter Bags

When your bags are weighed, there’s no distinction between the weight of the bag itself and the weight of its contents. It’s possible that the reason your baggage is over the weight limit is less to do with what you packed and more to do with the nature of the bag.

Older suitcases and hard shell bags tend to have heavy frames which can add precious kilos to your baggage. Well before you travel, take time to shop for a bag that is sturdy, but light. Even if it means paying a little more than you would for a heavier bag, the long term savings are more than worth it.

7.  Choose Your Airline Carefully

Luckily for travelers, not all airlines will charge you for checked bags. For example, on Southwest Airlines, customers can check two bags that weigh under 50 pounds for free. JetBlue Airways allows the first bag free, but charges for the second.

Be especially keen when using low-cost airlines as the low fares are compensated for by the fees charged on virtually everything, including baggage. It wouldn’t make financial sense if the cost of your bags wipes away any savings you’d otherwise have made from using the budget airline.

Airline baggage fees can sneak up on you and add up fairly quickly. Packing light is a great way to avoid extra fees, but this won’t be a feasible option for everyone. These tips can help you avoid a barrage of annoying fees and will make your travels more enjoyable.

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Victoria Brewood

Hi I'm Victoria, a British girl from Manchester. After graduating from university I decided there was more to life than the hours between 9 and 5, so I packed my journalism degree into my suitcase to travel the world and find a way to make money at the same time. I now call London home, although I still travel whenever I can. I hope to inspire you to be your own boss, live life and see the world.

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