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Eight Ways To Avoid The Airlines' Checked Bag Fees

Carry-on bagsThese days, you have to pay to check your first piece of checked luggage on most airlines.  Boarding times are longer and there does not seem to be enough overhead luggage space on the planes anymore.  People also tend to be a tad odd about their bags when you move them around in the overhead.  No one wants to pay the charges and try to carry-on too much stuff in an effort to avoid the charges.

If you are a savvy traveler though, you can get around the charges if you know what to do.  As such, here are eight ways to avoid the airline checked bag fees:

  1. Don’t pack so much crap
    • Duh, right.  Just look at the stuff you used on your last trip.  Don’t take the stuff you did not use on the next trip.  Plan your outfits before you pack as it will save you money.  If its over 40lbs (18kg), you can’t store it on most U.S. planes as there is a 40lbs (18kg) limit on overhead carry-ons.  Airlines such as British Airways allow up to 51lbs (23kg) though.  If its over the carry-on dimensions then you can’t take it on board either.  Incidentally, in Europe some of the airlines such as Virgin Atlantic Airways have a 6kg (13lbs) weight limit!
  2. Fly an airline that does not charge a baggage fee
    • Yup, there are still airlines that do not charge to check a bag.  As long as they have competitive fares and flies to your destination, try them.  There is a list of baggage fees at Kayak.com.  Here is a list of select airlines that do not charge a fee for the first checked bag, otherwise, you have to fork out at least $20.00:
      • JetBlue Airways
      • Southwest Airlines (first and second bag free)
  3. Fly First/Business class
    • So when you fly in the premium cabins of the airline that has them you are treated like a rockstar.  One of those rockstar privileges is that you get to check bags for free.  So spend the extra bucks for the perks.  Your weight limits are also increased.  So you make out all around.  Just check with the airline to see how many bags you can take at no charge.
  4. Be a military traveler
    • Most airlines allow military travelers in uniform and with orders to check whatever they need.  Geez, these guys protect our countries so it makes sense right?
  5. Become a frequent flyer with Elite status
    • Bags on carouselThis is the sure fire way to get all the airline cool perks.  The more you fly the better the perks get and one of them is free checked bags.  This is a pretty good savings as sometimes the bags may cost you $120!
    • To achieve Elite status, you just have to fly more often and be smart about it.  Sites such as
  6. Get an airline credit card that pays for your bags
    • There are several of these cards available now, The Points Guy tells you how to make the most of them.  Remember to purchase your ticket with the card and ensure that all your travelers are in the same PNR (itinerary, using the same confirmation number). Learn more.  Ensure that you read the terms and conditions of these cards and follow them so that you will get the advantage of not paying the baggage fees.
  7. Check it at the gate
    • Most airlines will allow you to check your carry-on at the gate at no extra cost.  It improves the boarding time and helps to keep them on schedule.  Note though that you have to pick up that bag at baggage claim, not at the jetway when you deplane.  Unless you are on a regional jet.  Remember your allowances though (one carry-on bag and one personal item).  The trick here is to get it past the TSA checkpoint :-).
  8. Be nice to the check-in agent
    • So gone are the days when this used to work, but you never know. You can always ask, but be prepared to pay though.  The agent may make an extra 5lbs. over the allowed weight limit pass, but don’t count on it.

Baggage Claim SignWhat are your thoughts on this topic? Can you think of any additional innovative ways to carry your bags on the plane for free?  if so, please leave a comment below and/or “Like” this page. Share it with your friends as well.  Have you tried any sneaky tricks to get your bags onboard?

Have a great flight.

One thought on “Eight Ways To Avoid The Airlines' Checked Bag Fees

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