Airline Baggage Fees busting your budget? Here are some tips from world travellers that might save you a few bucks the next time you travel.
By Max Milano, international travel expert at Vayama.com
Here’s a novel idea, pack light. Very light. International travellers have been avoiding baggage fees for years by travelling light. Entire cottage industries and websites have been created around this subject. Venerable tour guide Rick Steves has been known to wax poetically of the benefits of single bag travel. Unfortunately this concept seems to have caught on with mainstream travellers, to the point where now everyone seems to travel with only carryon luggage. This seems to have created a bit of an arms race among luggage manufacturers, who seem hell bent on supersizing the carryon bag and creating chaos at the boarding gate (who hasn’t seen entire families with babies trying to board the plane with what looks like the entire contents of their house as carryon, baby prams included?).
It’s Time to Stop the Madness
If you are disciplined enough to pack everything you need for your trip into a small carryon bag, then congratulations. But if your carryon bag is the size of a Volkswagen Jetta that is bursting at the seams. Maybe it’s time to check in that bag.
When to Check In Your Bag
When you buy your next international airline ticket, don’t just focus on the price of the airfare, also check if your checked bags will be free, this can save you from $35 to $50 bucks for your first piece of checked baggage. It also pays to weigh your bag before you leave the house. Over the limit bags are penalized heavily (hence Delta’s infamous $450 excess baggage fee). Some online travel websites offer links to every airline’s baggage rules page, so take a couple of extra minutes to examine your chosen airlines baggage rules and make sure that you fly on airlines that offer at least one free piece of checked in luggage.
Airlines that Offer Free Luggage Check In on International Flights
British Airways (one or two checked bags free based on destination), Virgin Atlantic (One free checked bag in economy, two in Premium Economy), Emirates (2 checked bags free), China Airlines (two pieces), Air Berlin (one checked bag), and many others. In general, Asian and South American carriers allow up to 2 free pieces of free checked in luggage on international flights, while most European and American carriers are offering at least one piece for free.
If All Else Fails
Perhaps you’re travelling domestically, or perhaps you are the kind of international traveler who finds it challenging to keep within the 23 to 35 kilos weight limit for free check in bags. You may or may not have a genuine reason to pack your entire wardrobe for your week long vacation, we won’t judge. My best advice is to do what Hollywood stars have been doing for years: FedEx your luggage. Fedex ground, UPS and even the USPS offer cost effective solution to your excess baggage problems. All it takes is a bit of organization. Send your excess baggage ahead of you and have it all waiting by the time you check in to your hotel or apartment at the other end. It also works when buying oversized gifts abroad. UPS and Fedex take about a week. USPS a bit longer but it’s a lot cheaper.
*Max Milano is the author of “The Mechanicals of Recoleta”, Available at Amazon.