How to Skip Airline Bag Fees

It’s not uncommon for airlines to charge up to $35 for checking bags at the gate and another $45 for carry-on bags. The good news? You don’t have to take budget-busting baggage fees lying down.

Before we get going, know what your airline charges for each bag you check. One site has an updated list of what each airline charges. Find it at AirfareWatchdog.com.

With that information in your back pocket, try the following tips to cut those charges down to size before boarding that plane.

Become a premium flier. If you fly one airline regularly, check to see if they have a “premium” flier (or a frequent flier) program. Such programs usually come with benefits like one free checked bag.

Travel light. Onebag.com says that the maximum size for any carry-on bag is 45-inches around the bag, with a limit from end-to-end at 21-inches. So before you fly, get out your ruler and check to see if you can pack your bag to the max — and avoid the fee altogether.

Fly Southwest or JetBlue. You may have seen the “It’s On” commercial from Southwest (Stock Quote: LUV), which touts the fact that it doesn’t charge for up to two carry-on bags — and neither does JetBlue (Stock Quote: JBLU) (but it does charge for more than one bag). If you’re particularly fee-phobic, avoid Spirit Airlines. They’ve even begun charging for some carry-on bags — as much as $45 per bag.

Buy a scale. A low-cost luggage scale can save you big bucks on overweight baggage fees. Amazon.com (Stock Quote: AMZN) has one on sale for just $19.95.

As with any budget effort, a little preparation goes a long way in reducing those airport baggage fees. Focus on knowing what the airline charges, traveling light, and cutting any deal with your regular airline that cuts your costs.

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