5 Ways to Avoid Paying Checked Baggage Fees When Traveling

by Natasha Gabrielle | Published on Nov. 7, 2021

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You may be able to get out of paying checked baggage fees.


Key points

  • Airline checked baggage fees can be costly if you're not careful.
  • There are several ways to avoid paying extra to check your bags on your next trip.

Luggage costs can make your next trip more expensive than it needs to be. Many airlines are no longer generous with their baggage allowance. If you're flying domestically and want to check a bag, the airline may charge you an extra fee. But there are ways to get around paying checked baggage fees when traveling. Here are five ways to do just that.

1. Fly with Southwest Airlines

Southwest is the only U.S.-based airline that allows all fliers to bring up to two checked bags for free, no matter your fare type or loyalty member status level. If you like checking bags when you travel, it may make sense to fly with Southwest if it goes to your destination of choice. Since most U.S. airlines charge a fee of around $30 for your first checked bag, flying with Southwest could provide significant savings.

Note: This perk is available for all fliers. So if you're traveling with your partner, both of you are allowed to check two bags each. That means you can check four bags at no extra cost.

2. Pack light and bring only carry-on luggage

Many airlines allow you to bring carry-on luggage at no extra cost. Once you get into the habit of packing lighter, traveling with carry-on luggage can not only save you money but make for a less stressful travel experience. Who wants to wait at the baggage carousel forever or lug around heavy bags, anyway? Be sure to look at the fare type before booking your next ticket. Some airlines don't allow travelers to bring carry-on baggage when purchasing basic economy fares.

3. Use an airline credit card

Booking your airline tickets with an airline credit card may allow you to save on baggage fees. Many airline credit cards include free checked baggage as a card perk. Your card may also include a free checked bag for traveling companions if they're traveling on the same reservation. Are you thinking of applying for a new credit card? Take a look at the top airline credit cards for inspiration.

4. Earn elite status

It pays to earn elite status with your preferred airline since most airlines offer perks to elite status members and airline loyalty programs are free to join. As you continue to fly and accumulate more miles, you can make your way to higher membership tiers. Most airline loyalty programs allow elite members to check their bags for free.

5. Upgrade your tickets

Another way to score free checked bags is to upgrade your ticket. Most first-class and business class fares include free checked bags. While these airline tickets will cost you significantly more money than a coach class ticket, flying in first class can offer a more comfortable traveling experience, plus you get access to extra perks like free checked bags.

Before booking your next airline ticket, think ahead about potential checked baggage fees. This is an extra travel expense that you shouldn't be paying. You can take steps to avoid these extra fees, which will make it easier to stick to your vacation budget. If you're in the market for a new credit card, take a look at our list of top travel rewards credit cards.

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