10 Smart Ways to Bypass Airline Baggage Fees

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Sky-high fees shouldn’t ground your travel plans. Airline baggage fees have a knack for adding unexpected costs that can tighten any budget. With these ten practical tips to keep those extra charges from ballooning your travel expenses next time you fly, here’s how to pack smart and save big to ensure your wallet stays as light as your luggage.

Leverage Mobile App Bookings


You can get exclusive discounts when you book your flight and baggage through an airline’s mobile app. Carriers offer the lowest fees for baggage when you manage your booking via their app. These app-specific deals save money and make the booking process smoother and faster.

Book Multi-City or Round Trip Tickets

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A round-trip or multi-city ticket mainly includes a comprehensive baggage policy rather than a one-way ticket. Some premium reservations may grant additional luggage allowances when booked as part of a longer itinerary​.

Basic Economy vs. Standard Economy


Understand the differences between Basic and Standard Economy fares. Basic Economy has stricter baggage restrictions with additional charges for checking bags. Weigh the cost savings against the potential fees to determine which ticket offers the best value.

Fly with Southwest Airlines

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Southwest Airlines distinguishes itself by not charging for the first two checked bags. This policy applies regardless of fare type or destination, making it a uniquely cost-effective option for travelers who must check in their belongings. Choosing Southwest can save you from the typical $25 to $50 per bag fees other air services charge​​.

Pack Light and Pack Smart

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Who says you can’t fit your whole trip into a carry-on? Skipping the registered luggage line isn’t just a money saver; it’s a game changer at the airport. Pack everything you need in a carry-on and personal item to keep things simple. Start with a checklist to cover the essentials, choose clothes that work in multiple outfits, and remember, heavy items go on the bottom!

Pay for Bags in Advance


Booking your luggage ahead of time is a wallet-friendly move, especially for budget airlines; paying for your bags when you buy your ticket can significantly cut costs compared to the airport fees. This advance payment helps you avoid last-minute hassles and extra charges, ensuring a smoother start to your journey.

Use Airline Co-Branded Credit Cards

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Several carriers have co-branded credit cards that provide baggage fee waivers as a benefit. For instance, cards affiliated with airlines like Delta and United often cover the expense of the first registered bag for the cardholder and sometimes even companions on the same reservation. It can offset the card’s annual fee if you travel frequently​​.

Join a Frequent Flyer Program


If the airline has a generous baggage policy for loyal customers, you can unlock baggage perks by linking your frequent flyer number while booking. Benefits can include free checked bags, which are especially valuable for frequent travelers who prefer sticking to a preferred airline​.

Fly Premium Classes

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While more expensive upfront, business or first-class tickets often include multiple free checked-in bags. If you need to transport several bags, upgrading your ticket could be more cost-effective than paying individual baggage fees.

Opt for Fare Upgrades


Upgrading your reservation to comprise checked luggage might be more economical on longer flights, particularly international ones. Many aviation firms grant a free checked bag with higher fare classes, which can also come with added comforts and priority services​​.

Written by Johann H