7 Tips for Avoiding Excess Baggage Fees at the Airport
There’s nothing more disappointing than thinking you found a great deal on a fare just to arrive at the airport and find you have to pay extra to bring a bag…or two. If you’re over the weight limit the fees are even worse, and really, when was the last time you used every single thing you brought along on holiday anyway? It’s time to get smart.
The rising cost of air travel makes learning how to avoid baggage fees a must for savvy travelers, and all it takes is a little research and strategy. Once you learn the basics you’ll find yourself flying off on holiday with those extra Pounds Sterling still in your pocket.
- Choose Wisely
If you are a novice traveler you may be surprised to find that all of the airlines have different rules about what you can bring. Some of the cheapest fares also come with steep costs for any “extras” like bringing your clothing along. If you are booking your holiday with a travel agency, thankfully, oftentimes the luggage fees are already accounted for.
The first step to avoid paying is to find out which airlines don’t charge fees. Be a bargain shopper and compare the price of a ticket that includes the bags you need versus the price of a cheaper ticket plus the baggage fee.
- Know Your Limits
Just because on your last trip you were able to bring one piece of hold luggage for free doesn’t mean this airline will allow it, so get online and check the baggage requirements for the carrier you are considering before you book a ticket.
Each airline has its’ own size limits and some have weight limits as well. Once you book a trip, print a copy of the policy and bring it with you in case there are any questions at the airport.
While hand luggage is free on most carriers some budget fares only include a small personal bag that’s not even close to the size of a suitcase, so measure your bags carefully at home. I make a tape outline on the floor to see if they fit the required dimensions. It’s also a good idea to buy a luggage scale and weigh your bags before setting out to avoid a last minute panic at the check in counter. You can find them for less than £10 on Amazon.
- Choose the Right Bag
Spend a little extra and buy lightweight suitcases for both hand and hold luggage. Cheaper bags are often heavier, meaning you will be able to put less into them or end up paying outrageous excess luggage charges. It’s worth investing more to save a few kilos of space.
A backpack or duffle may hold more than a suitcase due to it flexible shape, plus if they want you to put it into the measuring cube you can smash it down a little, something you can’t do even with a soft sided suitcase. If a personal bag is allowed, ladies you can trade your regular purse for a backpack that fits under the seat and fit more in, including the empty purse if you want to use it when you get there.
The simplest way to avoid paying for extra bags is to just leave them at home and travel with hand luggage only. While it’s not always possible, this is my favorite way to travel because it saves both time and money. Having all your luggage with you means no waiting in line at the baggage claim, you can head straight out the door and start enjoying your holiday. There is also no opportunity for your luggage to be lost, giving you one less thing to worry about.
- Lighten Up
There are lots of tricks for traveling with just hand luggage but the most important tip is to learn to pack light. Even with hold luggage packing lighter will help keep your bags under weight. If you find you need more of something you can always buy it when you get there and you’ll still probably spend less than if you brought bags full of “what if” items.
Only take a few changes of clothing, no more than a week’s worth and plan to do laundry. Pack pieces that work in multiple outfits, and roll them instead of folding to save space.
- Put It On
Wearing bulky clothing is an easy way to fit a few larger items or cold weather gear without taking up valuable space in your luggage. One flyer brilliantly avoided paying £46 for baggage on an EasyJet flight by stepping out of line to put on a week’s worth of winter clothes right in the middle of Gatwick airport in London. I suggest you plan ahead a little more than that, but once you’re on the plane it’s easy to take it all back off and fly in comfort.
To make even more room, stuff your pockets; socks, underwear, small electronics, you’ll be amazed how much fits in a decent coat pocket. Shoes are a problem, so choose one pair that will work for all occasions if you can. If you can’t, wear the pair that’s more bulky and pack the lighter one.
- Don’t Bring It, Buy It
It gets tiring inspecting tiny bottles to see if they are the right size to take on the plane, so stop doing it. Just buy what you need when you arrive and leave it behind when you head home. From shampoo to snacks, most things are available all over the world and buying instead of bringing will save valuable space in your bag. I’ve even bought second hand clothes when the ones I had turned out totally wrong for the weather at my destination, then just left them behind when I went home.
It’s not always possible to outsmart the baggage fees but by using a few of these tricks, it can be done. Your holiday will not only be easier with your newly streamlined baggage strategy, you’ll have those extra cash to spend on more important things – like a pint at the local pub.
Author bio: Rebecca Brown is a writer and editor at Sunway.ie, Ireland’s leading holidays provider of sun holidays, winter breaks, city breaks, cruises with over 70 destinations worldwide.