It’s a situation that every traveler dreads; you’re dragging your heavy bags with you into the airport and are rushing to catch your flight. The first hurdle to cross: the check-in counter. But, oh no! One of your carry-on bags is totally overweight! Now you need to check your baggage in and pay for it — yikes!
It’s what you didn’t want to face right before that very expensive getaway you booked: another unnecessary expense.
A little bit of planning in this case would have ensured that you and your luggage get through to your destination without any extra costs. But, mistakes often happen when you’ve got a lot of things to pack and you only have a carry-on to pack it all in.
If you’re wondering how you can side step those irksome and unwanted expenses before your holiday truly begins, just remember these top ways to avoid checked baggage fees.
Check your airline’s baggage policy
As soon as you’ve nailed down your cheap plane tickets, it’s time top pop the cork on that bottle of champagne, right? Nope! First and foremost, it’s important that you set aside some time to delve into the baggage policy of the airline you just booked with. Airlines have varying levels of allowance for your carry-on and checked in pieces of luggage. Some airlines might let you bring on a free check-in piece while others will offer one or more checked-in luggage with an upgrade to business or first class. Whatever the deal is concerning your bags on a flight, you need to be in the know. So, as ecstatic as you may be about your journey ahead, take some time to do your research first!
Sign up for airline credit cards and rewards programs
If you haven’t already taken this step, then it’s time you looked at what’s on offer from the airlines that you fly most frequently with. Most airline rewards programs offer you perks for all the miles you fly, which could sometimes include waived off baggage fees. While this may entail flying quite a few hundred miles to ensure eligibility, signing up a frequent flyer program can sometimes land you an easy way out of checked baggage fees.
Another option for a lot of travelers is to apply for and frequently use airline credit cards. Many airlines offer several incentives for those cardholders who use their cards to purchase tickets and there is a chance of being awarded a free checked luggage at some point. Of course, there is some research you have to do here as well; all cards will require annual fees and it’s up to you to do the math to see if the cost of keeping your card is worth the benefits of waived baggage fees in the long run. However, if you are a frequent flyer with a certain airline, it’ll be totally worth it!
Be smart in packing your carry-on
If you’re one of those expert packers who can stuff an elephant in your backpack, then pat yourself on the back. But, for most of us other travelers with mere mortal skills in packing a carry-on, we might tend to try to pack ineffectively and end up totally overweight, pushing our carry-on into the check-in weight category. All you need to do is follow a few common sense techniques that have been successful for travelers over decades. For example, you can easily wear your heaviest pairs of shoes or even put on that heavy jacket on yourself while traveling, which should lessen the weight of your carry-on. Also, it’s just a good practice to weigh all your bags before heading to the airport, because you never know if you’ve accidentally over-packed. If you’re still not too sure on the best way to go about it, there are plenty of great packing tips out there that can enlighten you.
Find other places to distribute your weight
You might think that that stroller you’re checking in or that simple laptop bag you’re carrying on your back as a personal item can’t be of much use when it comes to saving you from checked baggage fees, but think again! You can use these spaces to pack in any heavy items that might tip your bag into the check-in luggage weight category. All airlines offer free stroller and car seat check in and there are no weight restrictions enforced, so these are easy places to stash some items from your carry-on. Laptop bags and handbags that are allowed as a personal items are also great places to stuff in a few pieces of clothing or even heavier articles.
Ship your luggage
While it may not be the first course of action that comes to mind when thinking about some top ways to avoid checked baggage fees, shipping your luggage to your final destination can actually turn out in your favor. Of course, it’s essential that you crunch the numbers and compare the check-in vs. shipping costs, as this will vary from location to location.
Choose light luggage
It may not be a major contributing factor, but whenever you get the chance to shop for pieces of luggage make sure you compare how much they weigh. Go for the lightest yet sturdiest bags. Every ounce could make a difference in diverting your carry-on to the check-in side, so being wary of this is a good way to avoid any unexpected costs.
Have you got any other tips on how you can avoid paying checked baggage fees? Let us know in the comments.