How to avoid checked baggage fees

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Just because many airlines are hanging tight to these fees doesn’t mean you have to pay them every time you fly.

It seems checked baggage fees are here to stay in the flying world. But just because many airlines are hanging tight to these fees doesn’t mean you have to pay them every time you fly.

Here are five ways to avoid checked baggage fees on your next flight.

Luggage (Image: PracticalHacks)
Luggage (Image: PracticalHacks)

Carry on what you can

One of the most surefire ways to avoid extra baggage fees is to simply to avoid checking any baggage. While this isn’t always possible, traveling light and keeping your possessions to a single bag will keep you from having to pay extra upon check-in.

Layer up

While every airline has regulations regarding what you’re allowed to carry on, there are no hard and fast rules about what you’re allowed on your person when boarding an airplane, Clever travelers have bucked the baggage fee by opting to wear as much of their luggage as possible, from layers upon layers of clothes to purchasing special coats or vests with pockets for maximum storage space. If you get creative enough with your layering, you might even skip carrying a bag all together.

An airline check-in counter (Image: That Hartford Guy used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)
An airline check-in counter (Image: That Hartford Guy used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)

Pick the right credit card

There are plenty of credit cards to choose from that offer all sorts of travel perks, including airline miles, airport lounge access and even complimentary checked baggage. If you think you’ll be able to use a credit card enough to rack up those airline perks – and if a new credit card makes financial sense for you – check out the travel perks offered by the likes of Capital One, American Express and Chase, and start saving those points to earn your free checked bags for your next trip.

Fly the right airline

You can still find airlines today that don’t charge for a checked bag on domestic flights. Two airlines you’ll definitely want to check out stateside are Southwest and JetBlue, budget carriers that still offer passengers free checked bags. JetBlue allows you to check one bag for free, while Southwest still allows two free bags per passenger. If you’re flying internationally, you’ll find carriers like Delta and American offer one free checked bag.

An airline check-in counter (Image: dykstranet used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)
An airline check-in counter (Image: dykstranet used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)

Travel with a frequent flier

Elite status with an airline means perks like free checked baggage, but even if you don’t fly often enough to qualify for status with an airline, you can still enjoy the perks by flying with someone who does have elite status. Many frequent flier programs extend perks like lounge access and free checked bags not only to the member with status, but to the passengers the member is flying with.

(Main image: Iberia Airlines)

How to avoid checked baggage fees was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Marissa Willman
Author: Marissa Willman (786 posts)

Marissa Willman earned a bachelor's degree in journalism before downsizing her life into two suitcases for a teaching gig in South Korea. Seoul was her home base for two years of wanderlusting throughout six countries in Asia. In 2011, Marissa swapped teaching for travel writing and now calls Southern California home.