How many more airline fees can we fliers take? Just in time for the holidays, one of the only airlines to not charge for a first checked bag, announced that it is offering new classes of airfare – essentially eliminating the free checked bag with the discount airfare.
The airline – Jet Blue. Southwest now remains the only airline to not charge for the first checked bag.
The nation’s largest 15 airlines made $3.35 billion on baggage fees last year- With those kind of numbers, Jet Blue is calculating it to be a smart business move. Gas prices are down, so the airlines are poised to make even more money.
So how can we beat the airlines at their own game and save money? Travel smart and know before you go.
1) First way to avoid baggage fees: Consider getting an airline-aligned credit card that allows free checked bags. Even though the cards usually come with annual fees, if you travel & check bags frequently, the card pays for itself in saved baggage fees. Plus – you can earn other perks like extra miles, & free passes to the upper class lounges. Not to mention – your travel partners reap benefits too.
Here are some cards and baggage bonuses I researched - but please double check before becoming a card holder!!
United Mileage Plus Explorer - First bag checked free, & one companion on the reservation also gets a bag checked for free. Upgrade to a United Club card & you & a companion get two bags checked for free.
Platinum Select American Airlines AAdvantage -first bag checked for free, plus FOUR people on the reservation get bags checked for free – big savings for a family.
Delta Gold Sky Miles - Not only do you get one bag checked for free, so do up to NINE people on your reservation. Sounds great, but… I don’t really know anyone who books nine people on one reservation, but heck, if you do – that’s a $450 savings round trip at $25 a checked bag.
2) Second way to avoid baggage fees: Mail your bags in advance with a carrier service like Fed-Ex or UPS. The farther you plan in advance, the cheaper it is. Depending on how heavy the bag is & where you go will determine how much you save, (or not.) BUT – it is more convenient, and the airlines won’t lose your luggage.
3) Third way to avoid baggage fees: Pack light so you can fit everything in your carry on. Vacuum storage bags make everything compact & give you more room – I recommend them if you have a lot to pack with little room for it. Wear your bulky clothes on the plane, & put your toiletries in your personal purse/bag if possible, as long as liquid items are less than 3.4 ounces.
4) If you have to check bags & pay a fee, make sure you know the rules of the airline, & any weight limitations. You can buy a small scale so you can weigh your bags before you get to the airport – overweight bags get charged extra, so know before you go. Digital luggage scales can easily be found on Amazon.com.