Find out the top ways to avoid baggage fees before your next flight.

When you plan on flying somewhere for a long period of time, you’re probably going to have lots of luggage. However, paying for baggage fees can be annoying as well as a waste of money. You don’t want to feel punished simply because you needed to bring a few more items along your trip. Different airlines have varying rules when it comes to baggage fees and how much luggage you can bring for free. If you want to avoid emptying your wallet before traveling, you need to be aware of those rules when packing. With our list of the ten ways to avoid baggage fees, you can save money and have a better trip.

1. Choose your airline based on baggage fees

baggage fees

Airlines have different policies when it comes to baggage fees. If an airline charges a ridiculous amount for checked luggage, you should think twice before booking a seat. Some companies even make you pay for just one checked bag, which means you may want to skip those airlines. Many airlines let you bring a certain number of checked bags for free, so consider those when buying a ticket. More commonly, airlines tend to allow one checked bag without cost to travelers. Think about booking your flight with an airline that keeps the traveler’s budget in mind.

Airlines such as Southwest offer two checked bags for free, so you can save and still bring your necessities. JetBlue gives you your first checked bag without a fee, but after that you’ll have to pay. When considering buying tickets with a discount airline, you should know if the fees cost more than other flights. While saving money on a ticket might seem appealing, you could end up spending greater amounts on baggage fees. Make sure to take the time to research which airlines provide their customers with reasonable fees for luggage.

2. Understand your airline’s rules

baggage fees - Airline rules

Once you’ve decided on your chosen airline, research ahead of time to figure out the airline’s policies. Travelers who know the rules before heading to the airport can save a lot of money and avoid headaches. There’s nothing more annoying than having your luggage ready, only to find out that it’s too heavy. This leads to paying baggage fees, leaving less money to start with on your travels. When you’re already tight on a budget, knowing the airline’s rules for luggage helps immensely. Airlines make their rules available to customers, so there’s no excuse for not knowing these policies.

Before packing your luggage, make sure to go online or call an airline to find out about baggage fees. Sometimes, the rules can be difficult to understand or complicated, so it can help to ask an airline employee. You should allocate time to really read over all the specific rules and policies for your airline. That way, you’ll know exactly what to expect by the time you arrive at the airport. This also allows you to strategize better when packing, since you know how much luggage you can bring for free.

3. Consider carry-on limitations

baggage fees - carry on limitations

Certain airlines don’t provide room for carry-on bags of a certain size. Baggage compartments above seats have a limited amount of space for holding large luggage pieces. Since they were designed before checked luggage was given a fee, these spaces can’t carry massive bags. Rather, the compartments contain room for smaller items, like purses and briefcases. At the same time, if a flight gets overcrowded, placing your bag in these areas can be a challenge. You might end up having to shove bags under your feet instead of above your head.

If you were planning on putting a lot of items in a carry-on bag, think again. You probably won’t have the space to stow your luggage away in these compartments. Additionally, certain flights have started charging their customers for putting items in carry-on spaces. While the compartment sizes stay at a relatively standard size, they may get smaller with time. It’s important to know the carry-on area limitations of your airline before packing your items. In this case, baggage fees may not be limited to checked luggage, but also carry-on bags.

4. Pack more efficiently

baggage fees efficiently

When you want to reduce the possibility of paying for baggage fees, packing more efficiently can be your best option. Prior to piling all your travel items into your luggage, make a list of necessary things. By planning out exactly what you need, you can eliminate extra junk that isn’t a necessity. While you may want to bring everything in your closet, your airline’s baggage fees might discourage excess luggage. Those who think about what they truly require beforehand will have an easier time avoiding baggage fees.  

Most of the time, we tend to bring more items than we actually need on a trip. If you must have everything, look online for tips on how to pack in ways that save space. This can help you figure out how to fold clothes, fit shoes, and other bulky items in a single suitcase. Similarly, those traveling in groups may want to try and place multiple people’s belongings in one piece of luggage. Children usually have smaller amounts of items, which may then be shoved into a parent’s bag. Avoiding baggage fees doesn’t have to be a struggle if you can part with unnecessary belongings.

5. Use space-saving products

baggage fees - space saving products

While leaving certain items at home may create space in your luggage, sometimes you can’t let certain things go. Maybe you’ll be staying somewhere for many weeks without access to laundry, so you need various clothing options. Those traveling on business or for formal events might need clothes that take up extra space. Even the weather can affect the amount of room available in your suitcase, as winter clothes will be bulkier. Thus, trying to fit everything you need in one case to avoid baggage fees can be a challenge.

With so many products online available for producing greater packing space, you can find something to help you. Special vacuums and compression bags that eliminate air can make your clothes become flat and easy to stack. Items like winter coats and sweaters will not take up as much room if you invest in such a product. Electronic equipment and charging items can be reduced by purchasing a multi-use product, like a universal charging set. This allows for multiple belongings, like phones and laptops, to be charged by one single item. While you may have to spend money, these items will let you save on baggage fees for many trips.

6. Think about shipping your luggage

baggage fees luggage

Travelers who require multiple luggage pieces should think about getting them shipped by FedEx or another service. People who will be spending extensive time abroad may have no other choice but to pack lots of bags. This means they may have to pay baggage fees in order to have the items they require during their travels. As such, shipping luggage instead of bringing it on a flight can save money in the long run. Many airlines charge more for flying checked luggage than shipping companies would.

Research your airline’s baggage fees as well as the cost of shipping your luggage before making a decision. Often, the cost to check your luggage can be greater than sending it away with a shipping company. Those who know they will have to carry many bags may find this option ideal. Shipping rates vary as well as airline baggage fees, so weigh your options carefully. You might end up saving quite a few dollars by shipping your luggage instead of flying it with you.

7. Weigh baggage at home

baggage at home

If you’re figured out your airline’s weight standards for checked luggage, you can prepare by weighing bags at home. Since it can be hard to tell how much your bag weighs, buying a scale helps you know exact amounts. A massive, bulky suitcase might feel over-sized, but actually weigh less than you think. You might end up packing less items than you could have, simply because you thought the case was too heavy. On the other hand, your case may be way too heavy and leave you paying baggage fees at the airport.

Scales can easily be purchased online and shipped to your home. Though you might want to avoid buying items to save money, this could help save money in the long run. You probably already have a scale in your home that could work. Once you weigh your luggage, you can know whether or not it will fit the airline’s regulations. This ensures you won’t have to pay surprise baggage fees after waiting in line at the airport. You’ll never have to worry about unpacking and repacking items before getting on your flight.

8. Purchase lightweight luggage

lightweight luggage

Frequent travelers might want to consider upgrading their luggage to more lightweight options. While it might seem counterproductive to pay for new bags when trying to save money, you’ll pay less overall. For example, if your luggage weighs less on its own, you can fit more items while passing the airline’s regulations. Since many airlines let checked bags of a certain weight fly for free, lighter bags help you avoid baggage fees. This means you can bring all your belongings and still have your luggage fly without having to pay extra money.

Many luggage brands design products with airline weight regulations in mind. You can easily find quality checked luggage pieces and carry-on bags that fit your needs and wants. When you buy these products, you’ll have functional luggage that saves you money during air travel. Carry-on bags with sturdy and compact designs will also help you fit them inside carry-on compartments more effectively. Travelers on a budget should invest in better luggage to keep them from paying baggage fees. If you fly on a regular basis, the amount of money saved will add up fast.

9. Keep heavier items in carry-on bags

carry-on bags

Since most airlines let carry-on bags fly for free, consider placing heavy items in these luggage pieces. While it might hurt your shoulders, carrying hefty belongings will help you avoid baggage fees on checked luggage. Travelers don’t have to weigh their carry-ons in order to comply with airline regulations. This means you should try and stuff as much as you can into these bags. Instead of keeping these bulky belongings in a suitcase, throw them into a backpack or purse if possible. Valuable belongings will even be safer strapped to your back then inside checked luggage.

Before stuffing a carry-on bag to its limits, make sure to check the carry-on compartment sizes for your flight. You might not have the room you need to stow your heavy carry-on bag due to limited space. If you can place the luggage at your feet during the flight, this may not be an issue. You might have to experience a little discomfort while flying in order to save money. Consider whether avoiding baggage fees remains more important to you than having a comfortable flight. For most people, spending a few hours in a cramped seat won’t matter if they’re saving lots of money.

10. Buy tickets with a co-branded credit card

co-branded credit card

Opening up a credit card just to avoid baggage fees might seem like a ridiculous idea. However, tons of airlines have co-branded credit cards that let you skip fees if you buy tickets with them. Those who don’t have a lot of credit card debt may want to consider taking this step. Similarly, any travelers who fly on a regular basis may find this an excellent way to avoid baggage fees. Don’t ruin your credit score if opening up a new credit card will cause this problem. In the end, you don’t want to overextend yourself by trying to avoid baggage fees on a few flights.

Many flights have different perks when signing up with their credit cards. The JetBlue Plus Card lets you and three other travelers bring bags for free. With American, World Elite Mastercard gives flyers their first bag free in additional to four other people traveling alongside you. These cards remain ideal for families or large groups, as you can save on total baggage fees with one account. If you’re not constantly flying, you may not need to open one of these credit card accounts. Travelers who find that baggage fees continue to diminish their budgets may consider this option very agreeable.

Avoid baggage fees by following our ten tips.

If you’re on a budget, saving money wherever you can remains a huge priority. When it comes to flying, nothing frustrates travelers more than having to pay for outrageous baggage fees. However, you don’t have to sacrifice your hard-earned money just by bringing extra luggage. By planning ahead and making strategies based on your airline, you can save cash and have a better flight. We hope our list of the best ways to avoid baggage fees will help you while packing for your travels.

Related Article: Best Checked Luggage Pieces For Your Travels