Being able to check your bags for free doesn’t sound like a huge thing but can nevertheless make you feel awesome. Avoiding the check-in fees, however, is becoming more and more difficult. American was the first airline to introduce checked-bag fees in 2008 and the rest of the industry has followed rapidly to the point that finding a carrier that doesn’t charge you for checking in your luggage sounds nearly impossible. However, there are still ways in which you can dodge those annoying check-in fees and make your travels a bit cheaper:
Join the frequent flyer club
The more often you fly, the greater the perks will be. The catch here is that you need to be a very frequent flyer in order to be able to check-in your bags for free. Elite travelers are usually people who travel at least 25,000 miles per year and, in addition, to a free checked bag, can receive other fantastic perks such as priority boarding, reduced fees and access to free upgrades.
Carry it on
This one is a bit obvious and doesn’t really solve the issue but it is, in a sense, a way to travel without paying the check-in fees. If you travel light or are planning a short holiday, this can save you a substantial amount of money. In some cases, if the flight is busy, the flight attendant might ask for volunteers who would like to get their cabin bag checked-in for free.
In this line of thought, you might want to try the gate-check trick; pop up at the gate with a carry-on luggage that’s just a bit too large for your overhead bin. This means that the bag will have to be checked-in and usually won’t cost you a penny. The obvious argument against this is that your flight attendant will still try to cram it into the overhead bin which slows the boarding process. What’s more, some airlines have already started charging a fee for oversized carry-on so this trick is quite the gamble.
Cheapest isn’t always… cheapest
Most people will search for the cheapest ticket available but what they fail to take into account is that the cheap base fare might often cost more in the long-term. The cheapest tickets are usually non-refundable ones which cover only the seat and nothing more; combined with the extra fee for checked-in luggage, your ‘cheap’ ticket might turn out to be more expensive than a higher-priced airfare that includes the luggage and a few additional perks. To avoid this trap, always do your research and compare prices before you book.
Find companies that let you check your bag for free
There are still a few carriers that allow you to check your bag without paying an extra charge. Currently, the only US airline that offers this type of service is Southwest. If you’re flying to Europe, you might want to invest some extra time in researching other companies that let you check your bags for free.
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