5 Tips to Save More Than $100 in Holiday Baggage Fees

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You may think that you snagged a great deal on that flight home for Thanksgiving, but if you’re planning on traveling with bags, think again.

Not only are there fees galore just for checking a bag, but there are also fees for oversized and overweight luggage that could cost you $300 per bag (each way!). That, alone, could easily top the price of your ticket.

LearnVest’s Holiday Baggage Chart*

Airline

1st checked bag

(online/airport)

2nd checked bag

(online/airport)

Overweight bag

(51-70 lbs.)

Oversized bag

(63-80 in.)

American

$20

$30

$50

$150

Continental

$18/$20

$27/$30

$50

$100

Delta/Northwest

$15/$20

$25/$30

$90

$175

JetBlue

$0

$30

$50

$75

Southwest

$0

$0

$50

$50

United

$15/$20

$25/$30

$125

$175

US Airlines

$20/$25

$30/$35

$50

$100

Note: Fees are per bag per trip, for travel within the United States.

Here’s how to not be a sucker:

Pay Your Baggage Fee Online

Most major airlines levy a $5 surcharge per bag for luggage fees paid at the airport. Paying via credit card when you check in for your flight online saves you money and time at the ticket counter.

Fly JetBlue or Southwest

Airlines with budget-friendly airfares are also friendly to your bags. JetBlue allows one checked bag per passenger free of charge and Southwest allows two.

Use a Scale and Tape Measure at Home

The fees for large and heavy bags are large and heavy—anywhere from $50 to $175. Weighing your luggage before you leave ensures that there will be no surprises at the airport. Also, measure your luggage even if you think you know the size—packing bulges count.

Carry On

If you can pack light (and small), you can avoid paying the checked bag fee altogether. These days, however, many people have the same idea, so if your bag will need to go in the overhead compartment, board the plane as soon as possible to snag a spot.

Pack a Spare Bag

This is especially important if you plan to do a lot of shopping at your destination. A collapsible duffel takes up little room in your suitcase on the outbound trip and saves you from excess baggage fees on the inbound. You’ll end up saving $20 to $100 if you pay for a second bag instead of packing everything into one big overweight suitcase.

*Prices were accurate when this information was published. Airlines may have since updated their fee structures.

  • Stephanie G. Anderson

    The USPS flat rate boxes are a great help in shipping small but heavy items to or from your destination. For $15 or less you can ship a box with your shoes, books or toiletries and lighten your suitcase.

    • The LearnVest Staff

      Hi Stephanie,

      Creative tip for saving on baggage fees! Thanks for sharing!

  • Pmdonne

    I’m fairly sure that the baggage fees for Delta are incorrect. Just checked online and there is not a discount for checking them online. And, it’s $25 for the first checked bag and $35 for the second.

  • Stephanie

    The United and American Airline fees are off as well, but thanks for the tip about paying online

  • http://www.Fishing4Deals.com/ Fishing4Deals

    Sometimes if you take your carry-on size bag to the gate, the gate agent will offer to check it at no cost to make space on a full flight. Another option is that some airline branded credit cards offer free checked bags for you and everyone else traveling on your reservation.