Remember the days when you could board a flight without long security lines and exorbitant bag fees? Believe it or not, there was a time when airports didn’t feel like a nightmare you couldn’t wake up from.
And while security lines may be unavoidable (for now), there are a few ways you can manage to escape those additional fees airlines charge us for overweight bags, extra bags, or, well, having a bag at all.
This week, the Points Guy tackled the question we’ve all been wondering: Do I really have to pay this fee for my bag?
If you’re planning a trip for the New Year, you may want to consider flying back home on a Monday rather than a Sunday.
As it turns out, that answer is not necessarily, although often not paying requires that you have the right credit card or a premium ticket. Here is every situation in which you might be able to save on those baggage fees, as TPG writes, in addition to some tried-and-tested advice we’ve pulled together so you’ll never be forced to fork out an extra $50 again.
Take a look at your credit card’s benefits
Have one of those co-branded airline credit cards? You’re in luck: Many of them will protect cardholders from unnecessary bag fees. And if you don’t have one of those co-branded cards, you’re not out of luck just yet. You can sign up for these cards at any time and start getting the rewards.
Check the bag at the gate
You should know this is a gamble, as USA Today writes. But if you’re willing to risk it, you could always check the bag at the gate.
You’ll have to bring the bag through security and wait at the gate for an airline attendant looking for volunteers to check their luggage. This usually happens when a flight is very full or the plane is especially small.
It doesn’t hurt to walk straight up to the podium once you’re at the gate and ask an attendant if you can gate-check your bag either, as we’ve previously written.
You’re likely to get a positive result, but this isn’t something you’ll see written on any airline website as standard protocol.
You’ll have to have a TSA-ready bag with appropriately sized liquids, but at least you might save a little cash.
Choose the right airline
When choosing a flight, always take into account incidentals (you can use Google Flights to tack on extra costs like bag fees into your overall flight cost).
That said, some airlines simply don’t charge you for checked bags, though that’s becoming less and less common.
If you couldn’t tell, flying domestically isn’t super favourable to free checked bags (except for Southwest).
Take advantage of your friends and family
If you’re travelling in a group and have a lot of bags to check, make use of anyone in your group who isn’t checking a bag. Why? Let’s take a look at the numbers.
If you have a friend flying with an upgraded seat or an elite status on an airline, you also stand to benefit from having them check your bag—they’ll often have the ability to check bags for free. You could upgrade yourself, as well—but if you’re here to save money, that probably isn’t advice you need.