The cost of air travel can quickly add up, especially when you start considering those extra fees you may have to pay.
“The airlines make literally, billions with a b, with these fees,” said George Hobica, founder and president of the travel deal site Airfarewatchdog.com.
According to Hobica, there are fees for almost everything these days – for choosing your seats, boarding early and this year, some passengers may be surprised to find they’ll even have to pay to use the overhead bin if they booked one of the new basic economy fares being offered by several airlines.
“If you haven’t flown for a while, you may be surprised by these basic economy fares with which you cannot use the overhead bin on United or American,” said Hobica.
Hobica says baggage fees mean big bucks for airlines, but there are things you can do to try to avoid them.
Child car seats and strollers are checked for free. So before you zip them up in their travel bags, consider packing some items inside. If you don’t have a basic economy fare, take advantage of your carry on by packing your heaviest items inside. That way you can pack more in your checked bags without going over the 50 pound limit.
Also – consider wearing some of what you’re taking with you.
“There are clothing items that act like suitcases,” said Hobica. “They have 20 different pockets and people do stuff everything in these pockets.”
What you use to book your flights could help, too. Hobica says airline-branded credit cards could cover baggage fees for you and your family.
“Some of them also let you go to the head of the check-in line or the boarding line so that you have a crack at the overhead bin,” Hobica said. “They cost about $95 a year after the first year, but they’re really worthwhile.”
If you haven’t already booked your flight, consider flying a higher class. Once you consider what you pay in baggage fees, even flying first class might be the same price as flying coach. There are also airlines like Southwest that allow you to check in bags for free. And you could also consider shipping bulky, lightweight items to your destination a few days after your arrival to save some money.