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6 Tips to Save on Baggage Fees

Dec. 28, 2018
Travel, Vacations & Trip Planning
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These days, finding an affordable flight is only half the battle.

You may be the world’s most adept airfare bargain hunter, but if you don’t know how to cut down on baggage fees, your savings from ticket-hunting could be in vain.

For travelers looking to cut down on the cost of flying, here are six tips for saving money on baggage fees.

1. Know the fees

The first step to saving money on baggage fees is getting educated, and doing so before you book a flight. Different airlines charge different prices for different baggage scenarios. If you know you have to check a bag, compare fees across the airlines in addition to comparing the ticket prices.

One great option for some travelers might be Southwest Airlines, which allows passengers two free checked bags per ticket.  

2. Use the right credit card

Many airline credit cards offer first checked bag free for the cardholder and one companion.

If an airline charges a $30 one-way checked bag fee, you and your companion could end up spending $60 each, or $120 in total, just to get your bags to and from your destination. Many airline credit cards, such as the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, which has an annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $95 and comes with the free first checked bag perk for up to nine people on a reservation. That perk alone can make the card worth it. Terms apply.

3. Pack light

Obviously, the best way to avoid baggage fees is to not check any bags. Most airlines allow passengers one free carry-on and one free personal item, such as a purse or laptop bag.

In reality, your personal item could be an overstuffed backpack, just as long as it can fit under the seat in front of you. Be sure to check allowable dimensions of a personal item and the carry-on in advance, or you may be paying for a checked bag at the gate.

»Learn more: 5 ways to pack a carry-on like a pro and avoid checked bag fees

4. Gate check your bag

If checking a bag is more a preference than a need, don’t check your bag at the check-in counter. Instead, wait until you get to the gate.

If your flight is full, the airline employees could offer free gate bag check to make room for everyone’s carry-on luggage. Take advantage of this service to avoid the struggle of finding free space in the overhead bins. Just remember that this method is a gamble, though, and only applies to carry-on luggage.

5. Book first or business class

If you’re trying to save money, booking a higher class may seem counterintuitive. You typically won’t save money doing so, but if you have a few bags to check, a first- or business-class ticket may be more affordable overall.

»Learn more: Why you should fly first class at least once, and how to afford it

Depending on your airline, folks who fly in a higher class have the privilege of checking bags at no additional cost. If you’re going to pay more in baggage fees, why not take the opportunity to fly in style?

6. Look into alternative shipping methods

Passengers who have a lot of luggage in tow may want to find another way to get their items to their final destination.

Depending on the size and weight of your bags, shipping the bags or certain items, while slower and requires planning ahead, may be more cost efficient.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2019, including those best for:

Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Cheap things to do in any city
The best travel credit card for your needs
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