Among the numerous fees that airlines have come up with, that baggage fee seems to irritate travelers the most. Maybe because we’re so accustomed to not having to pay for a checked bag. Here’s how to avoid paying to check a bag.
The standard rate for a checked bag these days is $25 for the first one—unless you’re flying Spirit. Then it’s $21 if you check your bag on line before your flight, $30 if you do it at the airport. Spirit, of course, is famous for charging for carry-on bags, too: on line, $36; at airport, $50; at the gate, $100.
Here’s your strategy. If it makes sense, fly JetBlue. Your first bag is free. Southwest allows two bags at no charge. Achieve elite level on a major airline, and your first bag is free. Send your bulky but lightweight items ahead via the post office or via ground shipping with FedEx or UPS.
Almost every airline-affiliated credit card gives you a free bag if you charge your ticket on their card. That’s why I carry credit cards for Delta, United, American, and US Airways. I travel enough that the annual fees are reasonable compared to baggage charges.
Plus, I get double miles for every dollar I spend on airfares and preferential boarding.
Last option: Pack wisely and just take a carry-on bag.