Are you going on a business trip or taking a flight to your favorite vacation destination? Traveling by air can be a breathtaking experience until you encounter hefty baggage fees. So, you could be wondering how you can take some extra luggage on your flight without paying high costs.
Here are 11 smart tips for carrying extra luggage on a flight:
- Establish the airline’s baggage allowance.
- Don’t pick the basic economy class ticket.
- Ditch your suitcase for a carry-on bag.
- Pack the right type of clothes.
- Weigh your luggage in advance.
- Wear extra layers of clothes.
- Check-in early.
- Use baggage rewards.
- Join a frequent flier program.
- Ship your luggage in advance.
- Buy some items at your destination.
Many travelers don’t know that they can avoid paying insane baggage fees by applying a few hacks. This article will explore clever ways to carry extra luggage on a flight. So, read on to avoid frustrations when checking in.
1. Establish the Airline’s Baggage Allowance
Airlines have different baggage allowances. The allowance determines the weight, size, and number of bags you can carry during your flight. Moreover, this baggage policy depends on several factors, including your:
- Ticket type
- Country of origin
- Flight destination
You don’t want to frantically open your bags and start sorting your stuff when checking in. You also don’t want to start paying for unexpected baggage charges.
So, before settling on your ideal airline and booking your flight, research thoroughly for one with a reasonable baggage allowance. You may even be lucky enough to come across an airline that doesn’t charge for checked luggage. Moreover, some airlines offer discounts when you book your flight early.
For example, Southwest Airlines has the best baggage allowance for domestic flights.There are no baggage charges for the first two checked luggage if they meet the weight and size requirement. Thus, if your bags weigh not more than 50 pounds (22.7 kg) and are less than 62 inches (157.5 cm), you’ll not pay any baggage fee.
Therefore, if you’re planning a trip to Hawaii or another local destination, you should consider Southwest Airlines.
For international flights, go for an airline that allows for at least one free checked bag. For instance, American Airlines doesn’t charge any baggage fee for the first checked bag. Moreover, if you’re a premium cabin flier, you might be exempted from paying any checked luggage fee.
Some airlines in the Middle East, including Emirates and Qatar Airways, have lenient charges for oversized baggage. With Emirates, you can carry luggage weighing 60 pounds (27 kg) with a Flex Ticket. Qatar Airways also allows the same weight for a single bag across all flights.
Hence, you won’t have to pay hefty fees if your luggage exceeds the weight and size limits, but
you don’t want to leave some items behind.
2. Don’t Pick the Basic Economy Class ticket
As I mentioned earlier, your ticket type is one of the factors that will determine how much luggage you can carry on your flight. Airlines offer lower ticket charges for the Basic Economy Class ticket. However, the fare doesn’t usually accommodate seat selection and checked baggage fees.
So, if you buy this ticket type, you might pay extra costs to have your luggage checked. Moreover, most airlines don’t allow passengers in the Basic Economy Class to bring carry-on bags on board.
To avoid these additional charges and have the chance to carry extra luggage, go for another class ticket. Although the fare will be higher than the Basic Economy ticket, you might enjoy bringing your carry-on bag on board without incurring extra baggage fees.
3. Ditch Your Suitcase for a Carry-on Bag
Carry-on bags and backpacks come in handy when you want to pack all your stuff in one place and avoid hefty baggage fees. On the other hand, suitcases are bulky and rigid and may not allow you to squeeze in extra luggage. Moreover, you’re more likely to have the suitcase checked (and charged) than a carry-on bag.
Most airlines only permit a carry-on bag on board if your ticket type is above the Basic Economy Class. However, some allow at least one hand baggage and an extra accessory on board for all ticket types. For instance, with Air France, you can have your carry-on bag and a backpack or purse in the Economy Cabin as long as they meet the size and weight limits.
The type of carry-on bag you choose will determine how much stuff you can carry charge-free. It should not exceed the airline’s weight and size limits. So, you should choose one that can fit on the overhead bin or under your seat.
An ideal carry-on bag (or backpack) should be lightweight and spacious enough to accommodate all your essentials. But, if you’re going for a more extended trip, you might consider suitcases that won’t exceed the baggage limitations when full. Go for a suitcase made from lightweight materials such as:
- ABS plastic
Note: It’s preferable to condense your luggage into one large suitcase if you’re traveling as a couple or family. Some airlines have more lenient charges for checked baggage than carry-ons. This will save you from paying extra costs for additional checked bags.
4. Pack the Right Type of Clothes
Carrying your whole wardrobe because you’re undecided on what to pack (or leave behind) is not such a good idea. It would be best to pack only the right clothes and squeeze in a little extra stuff to avoid paying additional baggage fees. However, this will depend on your trip.
If you’re going for a vacay in the Maldives, you don’t want to carry heavy clothes, like jackets and sweaters. Therefore, pack lightweight clothes, including:
- Enough underwear
- Swimming suits
- Flip flops (or sandals)
And don’t forget to carry:
- Sanitizer wipes
Also, use zippered or resealable clear bags to pack some toiletries, including:
Alternatively, you can keep them in the zippered pockets of your suitcase or carry-on bag.
To maximize space and carry extra stuff:
- Roll your clothes. You might already know this, but how you pack your bag will determine how much you can carry. Rolling clothes is the best way to save space and fit everything in one bag. Also, you can use rubber bands or ribbons to keep the rolled clothes intact.
- Use vacuum or space saver bags. As the name suggests, these bags come in handy when packing as they help you maximize space. For instance, GONGSHI Vacuum Storage Bags from Amazon are compression bags with a sealer where you can carry your clothes, bedsheets, and comforters at a reduced size. They are available in various sizes to suit your needs and come with a travel pump for re-inflation.
- Carry a fanny pack. You don’t want your electronic gadgets and other essentials adding weight to your carry-on bag. So, fanny bags are ideal for carrying extra items, especially those you’ll need onboard. You can stash your lip balm, smartphone, hand sanitizer, pocket tissue, and any other preferred item into a fanny bag and strap it on your waist (or shoulder).
5. Weigh Your Luggage in Advance
It’s frustrating to find out that your luggage has exceeded the airline’s weight limits when checking in. Besides, the airline will slap you with hefty overweight baggage fees that weren’t part of your budget. For instance, American Airlines charges $200 for luggage exceeding 70 pounds (31.7 kg) on international flights.
To avoid the frustration of unexpected charges, it’s advisable to check your luggage’s weight in advance. Use a portable luggage scale to weigh your bags before heading to the airport. And, if they exceed the airline’s limits, you can either reduce your packed items or apply some creative hacks to carry the extra luggage.
6. Wear Extra Layers of Clothes
One of the best ways to go onboard with extra luggage is to wear several layers of clothes. If you have no time to weigh your luggage at home or aren’t aware of the airline’s revised baggage policy, this tip could be a life-saver. So, you don’t have to throw away some clothes if your checked bag exceeds the weight limits.
In such a scenario, rush to the bathroom and wear some extra layers. You might look like an inflated ball, but no one will penalize you for that. Moreover, you can “offload” once the plane has taken off.
Also, use the pockets on the jackets of winter coats to store smaller items like:
- Lipstick (or lip balm)
Nonetheless, ensure that you don’t carry any prohibited substance in those additional layers of clothes.
7. Check-In Early
Some airlines are a bit lenient to passengers who check-in early. As such, they may sometimes get away with carrying extra luggage on board. The reverse is also true for travelers who dash to the airport at the last minute.
Therefore, if you want a smooth check-in experience, arrive at the airport early and check your luggage weight in advance. If it exceeds the airline’s allowance by a few grams, you can apply some of the strategies we’ve explored in this article to get away with the extra luggage.
You might also be bold enough to try getting through checking in without altering anything.
Some airports have allowances for extra baggage. So, if it’s your lucky day, the attendants might allow you to pass and check in. However, if they don’t, you have no choice but to reduce the luggage or pay the overweight baggage fees.
8. Use Baggage Rewards
When choosing the ideal airline credit card, go for one with baggage rewards to benefit from carrying extra luggage. For example, some airline credit cards allow cardholders to have one bag checked charge-free. Others offer credits for seat selection charges, WiFi, or in-flight dining.
Here are airline credit cards that have free checked bag rewards:
- Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card – free first checked bag for the cardholder and six companions
- Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card – free first checked bag for cardholder and eight companions on Delta flights
- AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard – free first checked bag for the cardholder and not more than four companions on domestic flights (on American Airlines)
Note: You must apply for these credit cards and (or) pay your airfare using them to benefit from their baggage rewards.
9. Join a Frequent Flyer Program
If you are an avid traveler or a seasoned business person who travels frequently, it’s advisable to join a Frequent Flyer Program. Most airlines have such programs packed with numerous benefits to reward their loyal customers. You’ll have several advantages as a member, including:
- Airfare discounts
- Baggage rewards (and allowances)
- Redeemable miles
If you haven’t joined a Frequent Flyer Program, check your favorite airline’s website for details on such offers. Apart from baggage allowance, you might also acquire redeemable miles to enjoy:
- Hotels bookings
10. Ship Your Luggage in Advance
Shipping your bags in advance to your destination will save you the hassle of traveling with baggage. Moreover, you won’t have to queue for hours during check-in. And, you can carry extra luggage that includes your essentials in a smaller bag on your flight.
You can search for luggage shipping companies that charge lower fees than most airline baggage costs. Moreover, they offer safety assurance for your luggage and online trackers. This allows you to send your luggage to your favorite destination without worrying about expensive baggage costs.
11. Buy Some Items at Your Destination
You don’t have to carry everything you need on your trip as some things will add unnecessary weight to your luggage. So, buy items like umbrellas, heavy liquids, and some toiletries at your destination. Besides, leaving some items behind will save space for extra clothing or other essentials.
Some items may be deemed useless due to weather changes. For instance, you may not need a swimsuit if there are rainy episodes at your destination. Therefore, it’s crucial to be up-to-date with the weather forecast. In any case, you can always spare some money to buy the required items if you’d sufficiently prepared for any weather variations.