Susan Barnes – aka travlin’ girl – is a travel writer, editor and photographer. A proud Army brat, she was born on a military base in Belgium and has been on the go ever since, and makes Tampa her home with her husband and miniature schnauzer, Lucy. In addition to writing extensively for print and online media, Susan is a co-host of #girlstravel chat on Twitter, Mondays at 2 p.m. ET. Feel free to follow her via travlingirl.com, and on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Her next adventure in her Penelope “Daisy” is Disney World with her nephew!
Over the past few years there’s been a rapid change in the way airlines operate, and the charges that are now incurred. Want an aisle seat? How about window? Looking for exit row? On some airlines, you’ll pay for that. Want to be in the front of the plane? You may pay for that, too. The biggest change, though, is the charge for luggage. What was once a non-issue is now something that can greatly impact the final cost of that flight you’re booking.
Fortunately, there are ways to save money. Following are a few suggestions from IndependentTraveler.com – with my thoughts thrown in – to help keep your cash in your wallet, leaving more to spend when you arrive at your destination.
A Dress That Travels
3 Tips To Save Money On Airfare
Know the airlines’ policy. When looking at flights, be sure to take a look at the airlines’ baggage fees. What may start as a $200 round-trip fare can quickly go up to $250 if there’s a $25 charge to check your first bag, each way. Charges may vary for subsequent bags, so check that out, too. If you’re traveling internationally, checked baggage fees are oftentimes waived – but be sure to check on that as well! On a recent trip to Bonaire, I mistakenly thought my bag would check free of cost, when in fact the airline had recently changed their baggage policies and charged $25 each way.
Tip: Southwest allows two bags checked, free of charge; and JetBlue allows your first bag checked, free! There are some size and weight restrictions, but definitely something to keep in mind! Be careful, though – Spirit, another discount carrier, charges for each bag checked and carried on. I found that out when I flew with them last summer, but the overall charge still was less than I would’ve paid on another airline.
Join a frequent flier program. If you fly often, sign up for the program and you may just be able to check luggage at a discount rates, and sometimes even free of charge. What’s more, you can take advantage of all the program’s benefits.
Tip: Another option is to apply for a credit card through the airline with which you most often travel. Some offer one bag checked free to their card holders.
- Use a luggage scale. When I first started traveling internationally, I was mortified to have a “HEAVY” sticker put onto my bag when flying to Ireland. Other than the embarrassment, it didn’t cost me any more than. Not anymore. It’s pretty standard that checked bags need to be 50 pounds or less, or charges will be assessed. I’ve seen one airline charge for bags over 40 pounds, so be sure to check on that, too. My dad’s been a huge proponent of luggage scales for years, and has given me one or two as stocking stuffers. Do I use them? Hardly. But I wish I’d had one when I was flying back from Maui a few years ago and my bag weighed in at 58 pounds. When I asked the agent how much it’d be for the overage, I decided to not pay the $95 and rather pulled things out and stuffed them into my carry-on until I got down to 50 pounds. That luggage scale would’ve saved me some time and – again – embarrassment of pulling out my unmentionables at the counter. You were right, Dad. (UGH!)
The moral of the story is, if you don’t have to check your bag, save some money and carry it on (for the most part)!
One last tip: I’ve found more and more that if I have a carry-on and get to the gate, the gate agents ask for volunteers to check their bags through, free of charge. I’m always first in line – no need to worry about overhead space or fight to stuff a bag in. My bag’s ready for pick up when I land in my destination!
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