Six Options For Dodging The Burn of Baggage Fees

Look at all those fees, err, bags. (Flickr: ToastyKen)The number speaks for itself.  A new report shows airlines are raking in millions, or rather billions, on your checked baggage. The Department of Transportation confirms over $3.4 billion acquired in baggage fees by airlines last year. And that number has travelers fuming to find better ways to save on baggage fees when they fly.


If you too are fed up with paying $20 here and $20 there for baggage fees, you are not alone. I often cram all that I can into a carry-on, much like my fellow flyers and face no overhead space in the process. Let’s even up with the airlines and find better ways to avoid or lessen baggage fees as a whole.


The Carry-On Option—The two problems I have with the carry-on option are cramming my liquids into a tiny plastic bag and the fear my bag won’t make it on the plane. However, liquids can be bought post security or at your destination. And those fears of my bag not making it on the plane, well it always does. Airlines have to accommodate you and your carry-on, even if it means gate checking it. Carrying your baggage on and packing light is the best way to avoid baggage fees completely.


The Frequent Flyer Option—Airlines have frequent flyer programs for a reason. When you can’t seem to make those mileage flights work, you can reap the rewards of flying often when it comes to baggage fees. Being loyal to one airline can have its perks in this department. For example, United’s Premium program offers members free bags, among other perks. However, for these programs to be obtainable, you must fly a lot and stick to mostly one airline. At the same time, if you are a frequent flyer of an airline, don’t pay for your bags automatically. It never hurts to make certain there isn’t fine print saying you don’t need to pay if you are a member. 


The International Option—When I fly, I try to always travel carry-on domestically and checked baggage for international flights only. It is a good motto to live by when you travel, especially if you are looking to save on baggage fees. Most airlines allow you to check at least one bag for an international flight free of charge.


The Smart Buying Option—If you have to check a bag and you have to pay for it, at least save a few dollars here and there by paying for your checked baggage fee early. Most airlines will charge you more at the airport. If you buy ahead of time, you can save some coffee money in the process. Being smart about when you pay for baggage can help you save. Don’t check a bag if it is not necessary. If you are checking luggage just to get it out of your hair, you merely need a better carry-on sized bag, one that is lightweight and easy to manage.


The One-Bag Option—Like a good pair of walking shoes, find one bag and stick to it. If you have a bag that works for you, you might never have to pay baggage fees. Bigger and bulky luggage almost always must be checked and can even face high overweight fees in addition. If you have a bag that fits in the overhead bin of the airplane or is lightweight enough to check on occasion, you can easily save. Having several pieces of luggage to choose from is not always great for one’s wallet when it comes to baggage fees.


The Educated Option—Travelers pay the baggage fees almost as a last resort. Many get to the airport and have no idea they must pay for a bag. With some airlines even charging just to print your boarding pass, you need to be informed on your airline’s baggage fees before getting to the airport. Be sure you know just how much the airline you are flying charges. You might have to do some digging around on their website, but being informed is often the best way to avoid the fees. You can plan accordingly rather than succumbing to the fateful feels at the counter.


Flickr: ToastyKen



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