In a desperate attempt to cover their costs, airlines across the US are charging for something that was once included in your ticket price: checked luggage. Whether you’re flying overseas or regionally within the United States, airline baggage fees can add up quickly. These days, it’s common to pay $25 each way for just one checked bag. For a family of four, that’s $200 for a round-trip flight! Thankfully, there are a few simple ways you learn how to not pay airline baggage fees.
How to Not Pay Airline Baggage Fees
1. Book with an Airline that Doesn’t Charge Baggage Fees
This may sound obvious, but when you’re comparing flights it’s tempting to go for what appears to be the cheapest option. But with airline tickets, things aren’t always what they seem, and there can be hidden fees. Before you book your flight, check the airline’s policy on checked luggage. When you factor in the luggage fees, sometimes you’ll pay less by opting to fly with an airline that offers free checked luggage, even if the ticket is more expensive. (Learn how to find cheap airline tickets.) Thankfully, there are still a few airlines that don’t charge baggage fees.
- Southwest Airlines seems to be the holdout, and we love them for it! They still dosn’t charge for your first or second bag. Even though the fare was a little bit higher, my husband and I used them earlier this year when we knew we couldn’t get around having two pieces of checked luggage each. We saved over $100 each way by not paying fees for checking luggage.
- While passengers flying on JetBlue and WestJet used to be able to check one piece of luggage for free — even when all the other airlines began charging — that is no longer the case. They are both charging now. It’s a good idea to pack light!
2. Fly Internationally
Thankfully, most airlines will still give you at least one free checked bag when flying internationally. Delta, for example, offers one free piece of luggage when flying between the United States and most international destinations. The only exception is the United States to Canada though it is free going to Mexico. If you are in First Class or Business Class, it will be free to check one bag then too. Not all airlines offer free checked baggage on international flights, so be sure to check before you get to the airport. There are ways to travel green internationally and save money too.
3. Get a Frequent Flier Miles Credit Card
Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t encourage anyone to get a credit card just for the card member perks. But when you start to add up how much checked luggage fees can cost for frequent travelers, it makes sense for many people to do what they can to avoid the extra fees.
With Delta’s SkyMiles credit cards, you get one checked bag per person for each flight. I really like that you don’t even have to use your card to book your ticket to get the free first checked bag. Additionally, you can use the benefit for up to 9 people when they’re traveling under the eligible card member’s reservation. United offers a similar program with the United MilagePlus Explorer card. Most of these cards do have annual fees attached, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re using your card enough to actually save money. If so, frequent flier miles cards are a great way to avoid airline baggage fees, especially if you frequently fly the same airline.
4. Go First Class or Business Class
If you’re really trying to get out of airline baggage fees (or if someone else is footing the bill!), fly first class. Many airlines offer up to three free pieces of checked luggage for first class passengers. Plus, you get the perks of the first class cabin — free cocktails, extra legroom, and attentive service.
You work so hard to get the best deals while traveling, make sure you take some time to learn how to save money on your car rental too. There’s ways to save money when you travel so be sure to research before you buy.
A decade ago, even the most seasoned travelers wouldn’t have dreamed that they’d be paying extra for checked luggage. Back then, when we purchased an airline ticket, we knew that it would cover the entire cost of our flight. Times have changed, but there are still ways to avoid airline fees. As more airlines start charging for what once was free, use these tips to get around airline baggage fees.