A few weeks ago I was reading an article in the LA Times about a couple who were flying a budget airline from Ireland to Paris with only carry-on luggage and were socked with surprise bag fees. A hefty $800 worth of fees!
This angers me to no end, especially when I am sure part of the reason they were traveling on a budget airline, was to save money on airfare. And hello – I don’t know about you, but $800 could have bought me a whole new wardrobe to replace whatever was in the bag. Except perhaps my digital camera.
It got me thinking about how I would avoid such a catastrophe, and today I’d like to share three tips I’ve come up with :
1. Do your research. Check with each individual airline that you will be flying during your travels to find out the exact requirement and fee structure for both checked and carry-on luggage. Many airlines, especially budget airlines, may not even allow one free carry-on – so know what you are getting into. You can also check with SeatGuru.com, which lists airline bag fee policies on their site.
But, I’d even go so far as to place a call to customer service for those airlines to confirm what they have listed on their website. And since these rules and regulations are subject to change at any time, it would be prudent to double-check again right before your trip. Armed with this info, you’ll know what to expect – and the fees associated with not adhering to their policies.
2. Weigh and measure. Armed with the information, you need to weigh and measure the dimensions of your bag after it’s packed to see if it will meet both the weight and dimension requirements. And these budget airlines are no joke. This is how they make their money. If it’s 6 ounces over, it’s over. But getting to your destination is just half the battle. What happens on the way back when you have purchased souvenirs? You’ll have no idea what your bag weighs then. If you are that concerned, either don’t come back with anything you didn’t take with you or invest in a portable luggage scale. The $20 investment might be worth avoiding an $800 overage fee.
3. Have a back-up plan. Always pack a small foldable tote in your carry-on which can be used as another piece of luggage in a pinch. If you are facing huge overage fees, believe it or not, it may be a much cheaper solution to unpack a few things from your main suitcase and place them in the tote. This way you can check, or carry-on two bags that are underweight, rather than one that is grossly overweight.
Honestly though, one of the easiest ways to avoid this hassle is to consider NOT using airlines that have such confusing policies when it comes to bag fees and opt for those that have a more generous and cut-and-dried policy. That $20 roundtrip ticket may not be worth the stress of trying to figure this all out and may end up costing you not only your sanity but an amount of cash equivalent to taking ten roundtrip flights.
Would you avoid these airlines like the plague or just do your homework and hope for the best to score a good deal on airfare?
Head over to Cherrye’s for your double-dose of travel tips today!
Interested in ditching big bags and becoming a carry-on traveler, but don’t know where to begin? Click here to see how I can help you convert!