Avoid Extra Baggage Fees: Tip-of-the-Day #172


Travel much? Even if you don't, when you do you don't want to be spending your vacation money on baggage fees, right? Airlines are now charging more and more for extra bags and even changing the size limitations for carry on to force more checked baggage. It’s clear that they are depending on ancillary revenues in general, and luggage fees in particular, more than ever. This means that air travelers must be more vigilant than ever about avoiding them. Here are a few ways to go about it.

1. Bring less.
Obviously, the best way to avoid paying for a checked bag is not to bring one in the first place. Keep your bags as light as possible. Pack a change of clothes and wear something on the plane that you can wear again on your trip. This is totally do-able for short getaways.

2. Fly a no-fee airline.
JetBlue Airways doesn’t charge for the first checked bag. Neither does Southwest Airlines. In fact, it doesn’t charge for a second bag, either. Both of these companies have acknowledged what the rest of us already know: People travel with at least one bag. Shouldn’t we be rewarding these airlines with our business?

3. Look for loopholes.
They still exist. For example, US Airways exempts all of its frequent fliers, passengers traveling to and from Europe or Asia, Star Alliance Silver and Gold status members, unaccompanied minors, first class passengers and active duty military. Is anyone left?

4. Ask someone else to pay.
Hotels are mindful that first-bag fees can hurt their business, so they’re offering to cover the fees. One of the first was Kimpton hotels. If you have to pay for a checked bag, why not pass the bill off to someone else?

5. Get creative.
Get creative and consolidate as much as possible; for instance purse, laptop and makeup bag. You can avoid extra fees by putting as many disparate containers as possible into one larger container.

6. Exploit policy differences.
Airlines don’t have uniform luggage rules, so when you’re flying on two or more airlines, use that to your advantage. Whenever possible, check your baggage all the way through to your final destination to avoid fees at stopover locations. The airlines can transfer your bags to another airline and there's no one there to enforce the fees!

7. Mail it.
Federal Express, UPS, the postal service, or a company like Luggage Forward can help you avoid the fees, but often, these options cost far more than what the airlines are charging. Then again, they’re probably more reliable. An overnight delivery service is far less likely to lose your belongings. Something to explore if you are moving or spending an entire summer somewhere else.

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