7 tips to save on luggage costs

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Finding an affordable flight is only half the battle these days.

You might be the world’s most adept airline bargain hunter, but if you ignore baggage fees, you could be forgetting a major cost.

Fortunately, showing up at the check-in counter with a huge suitcase doesn’t have to cost a fortune – or even a single penny if you use the right strategy. For travelers who want to cut flight costs, here are six tips for saving money on baggage fees.

1. Know the fees

The first step in saving money on baggage fees is knowing what they are before you get to the airport. Do your research before you even book a flight. Different airlines charge different baggage fees depending on the route and type of fare you purchased. Sometimes there is also additional charge for sports equipment, like skis or surfboards.

If you know you need to check baggage, compare airline fees in addition to comparing ticket prices. Southwest Airlines is a reliable option for travelers as it allows passengers two checked bags for free per ticket on all flights, unlike many other airlines.

2. Use the right credit card

If an airline charges $ 30 for one-way checked baggage, you and your companion could end up spending $ 60 each, or $ 120 in total, just to collect your bags to and from your destination. the American Express Delta SkyMiles® Gold Card comes with the complimentary first piece of checked baggage benefit for up to nine people upon reservation. If you use it frequently, this benefit alone can pay several times the annual fee.

3. Book first class or business class

If you’re trying to save money, booking a higher class might seem counterintuitive. You usually won’t save money by doing this, but if you have multiple pieces of baggage to check in, a first or business class ticket can be more affordable overall.

Depending on your airline, people traveling in a higher class have the privilege of checking baggage at no additional cost. If you’re going to pay more in baggage fees, why not take the opportunity to fly in style? It is at least worth checking the prices before you book.

4. Achieve elite status or travel with someone who has it.

Many airline loyalty programs allow members with elite status to travel with checked baggage for free. For example, United MileagePlus Premier members traveling in the main cabin get a baggage fee waiver for one to three checked bags, depending on their status level.

Getting elite status just to avoid baggage fees might seem difficult, but there are some pretty easy ways to do it. If you have elite status in a hotel chain, you may also be eligible for elite benefits on a partner airline. United has a Marriott Status Match Program, for example.

5. Use a military discount

Many airlines do not charge a fee for the military to travel with checked baggage. JetBlue allows active duty military personnel and their dependents on the same route to fly with two bags each at no cost when traveling for leisure. There is usually an even higher free baggage allowance when military personnel fly on duty. Check with your airline about military baggage policies and be prepared to show your military ID when checking in.

6. Check your bag at the door

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

If your flight is relatively full, airline employees may offer free baggage screening at the gate to make room for everyone’s carry-on baggage. Take advantage of this service to avoid the struggle to find free space in the upper bins. Keep in mind that this method is a gamble, however, and your bag will obviously still need to meet carry-on requirements.

7. Light pack

When all else fails, the best way to avoid baggage fees is to not check in baggage. Most airlines allow passengers on standard tickets one free carry-on baggage and one free personal item, such as a purse or laptop bag.

In reality, your personal item can be a padded backpack, as long as it can fit under the seat in front of you. Be sure to check in advance the allowable dimensions of a personal item and carry-on baggage, otherwise you may need to pay for checked baggage at the boarding gate.

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Shanta Harris

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