These days, airlines seem to have found every way imaginable to charge passengers for services that used to be included in the airfare, says a recent Wired article. “It started with checked baggage fees and now ranges from greater legroom to priority boarding,” it states. Airline fees aren’t going away anytime soon, so it’s worth your while figuring out how to avoid them when you travel, especially when a checked bag for each member of a family of four can quickly rival the cost of a ticket.
Follow these tips from Wired and you’re well on your way to sidestepping those annoying, and expensive, fees.
Only Pack a Carry-on
This may be hard for some but sticking to one carry-on and one personal bag is the best way to go. Carry-on bags are free and you don’t have to worry about the airlines losing them. Plus, as soon as the plane lands, you’re off and running, without having to wait in baggage claim for your suitcase to show up. The only downside: since everyone else has the same idea, the overhead bin space is usually taken before everyone has boarded (unless you’ve paid extra to board early) and you’ll have to check your carry-on at the gate. Hello, baggage claim.
Weigh-In at Home
If you can’t fit everything you need into a carry-on and have to take a proper suitcase, think about weighing it at home before heading to the airport. A basic home scale is cheap and will prevent you from over-packing. It’ll also save you money and hassle at the airport―an overweight bag on top of luggage fees really adds up.
Airline Credit Cards
Most major airlines offer credit cards with rewards, such as large mileage bonuses, but more importantly, perks such as waived baggage fees. For example, Delta offers a co-branded American Express card that comes with 30,000 miles for signing up and free checked baggage. The annual fee is waived for the first year as well. These bonuses may seem small but they’ll help you save on fees.
Gaining elite status with an airline may seem hard if you’re not a frequent traveler, but with the help of airline credit cards and a little loyalty, you can quickly start reaping the benefits. Even the lowest level of frequent flyer can earn priority boarding, free checked baggage, and access to the best economy seating. And don’t forget one of the best perks of elite status―upgrades!
Choose Your Airline Wisely
With every airline out there seemingly scheming to snag every dollar they can from passengers, Jet Blue and Southwest stand apart. These two allow you to check your first bag for free, and changing your reservation with them is easier than with other carriers. (Southwest even lets you change your ticket for no charge.)