This blog post was updated on December 9, 2021.

It’s one of the less pleasant aspects of travel: baggage fees. Paying for the privilege of checking your bags is easily one of the most annoying parts of flying the friendly skies. But while they are indeed frustrating, baggage fees are not inevitable. We’ve got the rundown on everything you need to know about baggage fees — and how to keep them from cutting into your travel budget.

Baggage Fee Facts

young tourist girl with backpack and carry on luggage in international airport at check-in counter

Simply put, a baggage fee is what most airlines expect you to pay for bringing your luggage aboard a flight. Whether you’re checking your bags or carrying them on, you could get hit with a fee. The exact price depends on a few factors, from which airline you’re flying to the size of the luggage, but in some cases it can be up to $50. There are still some airlines out there that don’t offer baggage fees, but the trade-off is a pricier ticket.

Nickel and Dimed

taxi van drops off passenger with bag

While it can be frustrating to account for every single bag you want to bring with you, there’s actually a hidden advantage to baggage fees. Travelers can figure out just how much they’re paying per piece of luggage, and compare it to flights where everything is included. Many airlines that charge baggage fees offer reduced rates on seats. Often, the flights with baggage fees still come out at a significantly lower cost — something to keep in mind if you’re trying to stay on budget even when seeing the world.

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Credit in the Straight World

a family push luggage on trolley in airport

While baggage fees may have their place, most people simply don’t want to shell out additional funds on an already pricey flight. That’s when it might be time to turn to credit cards. Many airline-branded credit cards will waive your baggage fees if you book the flight directly through them. Considering the fact that those baggage fees can add up to a whopping $250, it might be time to consider nabbing an airline-branded card for your travel needs.

Keep It Light

passenger loads bags in overhead compartment of plane

Of course, the easiest way to avoid baggage fees is by traveling light. If you pack only the necessities and make smart decisions, you can drastically reduce the cost of how much fees you’ll pay on your baggage. But how many people are really that good at packing? This can also pose a problem if you plan on doing any shopping during your trip, so only depend on this method if you’re absolutely sure you can survive on the bare minimum. And if your flight charges per bag, invest in one big piece of luggage that gives you the space you need.

Investigate the Options

passenger places bag in security check scanner

While most airlines now include baggage fees, one size does not fit all. It can vary widely from airline to airline, so do some research before you book a flight. Some airlines will allow a limited number of bags before they start charging, while others offer discounts and deals for frequent fliers. Many airlines even offer calculators that let you work out exactly how much bringing your luggage will cost you. Bottom line: investigate the costs and pricing plans for your airline, so you don’t end up blindsided by unexpected baggage fees at the airport.

Know Your Limits

a family rushes through airport with their luggage

In order to avoid those pesky fees, you’ve decided to opt for a single gigantic bag for all your travel needs. Sounds like a perfect solution… right? Not so fast. Most airlines have very specific baggage limits, particularly for carry-on. If you don’t mind checking your monstrously large luggage (and incurring any additional fees), this won’t be a problem. But if you’re looking to bring your bag on the flight (or just cut down on travel expenses), be sure to learn the limits allowed on your flight. It will save you a lot of headaches (and some serious cash) at the same time.

Got any other helpful pointers about baggage fees? Share them with us in the comments.

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