Personally, I try and avoid paying checked baggage fees at all costs. I'm the girl who went on a week-long conference to the West Coast with a backpack and a roller bag. U.S. carriers took in a whopping $3.35 billion from baggage fees in 2013, reports the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics. But if you’re not flying on Southwest Airlines, which offers two free checked bags, or JetBlue, which offers one free bag for now, here are eight tips on avoiding paying those pesky fees.
1. Reading is Fundamental
There’s a lot of good information in that fine print on an airline’s website. By reading it, you can know just where you stand when it comes to everything from checked bag fees to weight restrictions. Print out a copy or bookmark the relevant page on your smartphone in case you are confronted with an employee who may not know his or her airline’s complicated rules.
2. Weigh Your Luggage
Use your household scale or invest in a portable hanging scale. You can carry up to 50 pounds of luggage. But if you go over by even one pound, airlines will tack on fees starting at $50 -- and this is on top of the $25 fee you already paid to check your bag.
3. Spread the Wealth
If you’re traveling with family, each person gets a carry-on and a personal bag, even toddlers and babies. Use their inflight baggage allowance to pack your necessary items.
4. Bulk Up
Items like a winter coat or large boots and shoes take up valuable space in carry-on and checked bags. So resist the temptation to pack those items and wear them instead.
5. Now Boarding
Depending on the airline, you may be able to buy priority boarding for a flight that is cheaper than a bag fee. And with that priority boarding, you’ll be guaranteed precious overhead bin space for your carry-on luggage.
6. Carry On
Most travelers tend to pack way more than they’ll ever need for a trip. By coordinating outfits and careful packing, you can do a week-long trip with just an overhead bin-friendly roller board suitcase, like the lovely Tegra Lite model from Tumi.
7. Charge It
Most airline branded credit cards offer members a free checked bag. Read about the best airline credit cards here at the About Travel Miles and Points site.
8. Roll It Up
You can maximize space in your luggage by rolling up items. You can also put smaller rolled items, like undergarments, into things like shoes.