4 Tips for Avoiding Airline Baggage Fees

Airlines seem to be going ala carte. They are charging passengers for every bag they check, if they exceed the 40 lb or 50 lb weight limit, or bulge beyond the 40 linear inches allowed. Some are even charging extra if you check a bag at the gate.

If you learn to pack lighter when you fly, you’ll be able to save money in more ways than one. For example, if you travel with just one carry-on, you will not have to worry about tipping a bell hop for carrying your bags or holding them in storage after you check out. You will be more free to take a bus or train to and from the airport rather than the more expensive taxi or shuttle service.

Here are 4 tips on how to avoid airline baggage fees:

Use small, light luggage.

Pack everything in one bag that is at or less than 40 linear feet (width + height + length). Most airlines limit carry-on sizes to 40 linear feet. If you choose a bag at this size be aware, however, that if you over stuff the external pockets by even an inch, your bag can be sent to the belly of the plane, with a charge to you.

Weigh your bags.

Airlines will also charge you extra if your bag is too heavy. Check on the weight limits for your airline and before you head to the airport make sure you stay within the guidelines, which is typically a 40- or 50-pound limit for most airlines.You can try setting a bag on a bathroom scale, or hold it in your arms while you step on, and then weigh yourself again without the bag. The difference is numbers is the weight of the bag. If you don’t trust your bathroom scale, there are portable scales available just for this purpose. You can find such scales at travelonbags.com, magellans.com).

Board early.

It is quite frustrating to have all of your belongings squeezed into the possible smallest bag so that you can avoid chcking luggage, only to board the plane and learn that the groups that boarded ahead of you used up all of the available overhead compartments and there is no space there for your bag.

You then turn to slide the bag under the seat at your feet, but it just won’t fit. Feel the panic as the airline attendant approaches you and says, “Sorry, it seems we’re going to have to check your bag because there just isn’t any more room.”
The easiest way to avoid the “cabin’s too full” issue, is to be among the first to board. Some airlines determine your boarding order by how early you confirm your flight. If you confirm your flight online within seconds of the time the airline says you may do so online, you’re apt to be one of the first for your boarding section. So, often the key to getting on board early is to reserve your seat online, and confirm your seat online as early as you can, and then arrive to the gate early enough so that you’re able to be first in line for your section.

Choose the dreaded middle seat.

Most people prefer window or aisle, but when it comes to assuring you make it on with your luggage in hand, choose the middle. Middle seats have more under-the-seat storage. Window seat under-seat floor space is smaller because the sides of the planes are curved, and the aisle seats are smaller because over the years aisles have been made larger.

So just in case all the overhead bins are taken by time you board, you’ll be assured enough space under the seat for a medium bag if you seat in the middle.


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