That $2.5 billion is airlines’ profit from baggage fees in the first three quarters of 2013, so we travelers actually spent more, according to the U.S. Department of Treasury.
The airlines say increased fuel prices warrant the higher fees… yet an analysis by the Detroit Free Press reports airlines spend only $2 in jet fuel per bag. I am sure some of the fee goes to labor to handle bags, but even if that is another $5, the airlines are just upcharging us.
So how can we travel smarter? How can we avoid shelling out the $25 for a checked bag, or even more for luggage that is overweight?
It takes planning.
1) Before you book your ticket find out the weight requirements and luggage policies for your potential airline. Fees may increase the price of your trip by hundreds of dollars if you are traveling with a family. Seek out airlines that don’t charge (For example Southwest as of now.)
Once you find the fare to fit your budget, make sure you refer to the policies when it comes time to pack.
A great downloadable guide to airlines’ carry on and checked luggage rules can be found at www.travelsmith.com. Remember – sometimes policies for international flights are different than domestic.
2) Invest in a cheap luggage scale to weigh your bags at home so you can reshuffle or remove items before you get to the airport. They are generally hand held and clip on your bag. Here is a review of good small scales that are around $20-40 in range //voices.yahoo.com/travel-review-top-luggage-scales-2513567.html?cat=46
3) Pay attention not only to the WEIGHT of your bag, but the MEASUREMENT requirements too. I recently flew Spirit and they strongly emphasized only certain dimensions would be allowed as carry on – I measured my bags with a tape measure before hand to make sure.
4) Become a member in an airline loyalty club or credit card. I don’t know many people who aren’t, but in case you didn’t know, you often get special luggage allowances.
5) You can always ship your luggage ahead…. I know people who swear by it, but I personally don’t need to add yet another step to my travel planning. And, it may not be worth it for only one bag.
6) Pack less. This may be the biggest hurdle of all for some!!!