On our last trip July 2019 we were a bit surprised about the changes made by the airlines. Up to a year ago bringing one carry on, one personal item and one luggage were allowed at no extra charge (at least with most airlines).  Traveling with a few airlines recently we realized how much bringing a personal and carry on bag has changed.

Before the new changes, even most international flights allowed a suitcase at no extra cost the only restriction was the weight on the bag. After new changes made less than a year ago, I want to share based on our experience how you can save and avoid some extra expenses.

Things you should about luggage fees

First I will share based on our experience the things you should know when packing for a trip including your carry on.

2 items are allowed Free

  • So far most airlines are not charging for a personal and carry on item.  Even with the new fees when traveling this could be a great way to travel with no extra charges, just make sure you follow the requirements with TSA and airline personal item height and weight.

Check your Personal items requirements

  • Most airlines are checking the weight of both items (for example the airport in France (CDG) separated the passengers based on how big both items looked together.) Both items lets say a backpack and a small carry on (22 in) was put on a scale together and if they weight passed the limit of 23 kg then you will have to put one as a piece of luggage paying the charge for the airline you are traveling with.
  • In another airport they would look at the bag and would ask us to weight them in the counter scale, just to avoid any extra charges is best to read on the airline requirements.

Check-in Luggage Fee

  • We actually thought international travel was exempt with this new charge, but once we started to check in and read we had to pay for all check-in bags we knew we were in trouble since we had a few flights.  So, one thing to know that most airlines are charging for a suitcase a check-in bag.  If you plan ahead there will be some ways you can avoid this fee altogether (i share a few tips below).  Before booking your flight  (check the airline you are planning to travel with since the charges can go up to $60 for the first bag alone)

Roundtrip Luggage Fee Not Covered?

  • I know I keep using our last trip from July 2019 as an example but traveling to about 5 airports we were able to pick up a few things to know.  At first International flight are not exempt like I mentioned earlier, sadly to say Roundtrip is not cover as 2 for 1.  In other words, most airlines will charge you for each flight travel but there might be some exemption with a layover. It all depends on the airline so knowing the requirements would be so helpful especially if making a few stops.

Layover might not be covered

  • Some airlines like we were told by British Airways in Venice Italy that for layover flights they would charge if we take the luggage with us and check-in again for the next flight.  So to avoid the extra charge we decided to let the bag stay and we placed the items we needed on our carry on bag.
  • This may vary by airline and even talking on the counter with another passenger they said it is allowed to take your check-in bag with you and bring it back for your next flight at no extra cost but you must show them your boarding pass from both flights.  As you can see we were told very different information for the same flight so to be safe just double check the rules with the airline.

What is the cost of check-in bags

  • Domestic Flights from most known airlines start at $30 for the first bag, an additional $40 for the second bag and $150 for the third bag.  But keep in mind the bag should not weigh more then 50 lbs, if it does an additional fee will be added.  Just on this alone, you can see how expensive it can get on top of the airline ticket price.

Airline with free check-in bags

  • Southwest Airline continues to offer up to 2 free check-in bags on each flight.

Tips on how to avoid check-in bag fees


Avoid Check-in Bags

  • Avoid check-in bags if you can.  A great way to travel and avoid any luggage fees would be to pack a carry on bag and a backpack (make sure to meet the size and weight requirement based on the airline you are traveling with).  Traveling with family and friends a few of us were sent to separate line where we had to weight both items, so is best if you are traveling with just check-in bags verify the requirements to avoid paying the check-in bag fee if the weight is more then allowed.


Buy a baggage scale

  • Traveling a few flights on just one trip and dealing with the new changes having a baggage scale surely came in handy for us.  It doesn’t take much space and is very light to carry.  One of our check-in bag weight was exactly 50 lbs so we were able to remove some items to make we didn’t have to make adjustment while on the airline counter. (find out more information here)


Use reward points to pay for the luggage

  • Signing up to an airline account comes with some rewards.  All airlines come with rewards programs they are called different but work pretty much the same.  You can sign up to the ones you use the most for free and as you travel earn some mile travel points.  Once you have accumulated some points you can redeem them to pay for your check-in bag.  Just know on the airline counter they might say you can’t use your points right then and there but online paying with your points worked perfectly fine.


Sign up with airline bonus credit card 

  • There are many great credit cards that offer bonus or travel points such as Chase Sapphire (which is the one we used to book our airline tickets with).  But a great tip would be to consider the airline you travel with the most and apply for there bonus credit card. For example, American Airlines has a few options to choose from in that card you will get the bonus points to use when traveling with that airline but another benefit to getting the credit card is check baggage fees are waived.  Before signing up with the bonus credit card make sure it offers the bonus, read what the benefits are and always check the annual fee.

Sign up with elite bonus credit card 

  • If you rather not sign up with a specific airline credit card another option would be signing up with an elite credit card.  Just hear me out, jejej.. these cards come with a heavy annual fee in most cases $450 at the same time it comes with some nice incentives, for example, bonus travel points, priority pass (many free airport lounges), global or Pre-TSA application paid for and some include travel credit of about $200.
  • So if you are planning a future trip or will use those points on a current trip you can use those incentives while taking advantage of the travel credit by paying for travel expenses such as luggage fees using that elite credit card.

Upgrade your travel seat

  • Upgrading your seat from economy to Premium Economy might have you skip on this tip but in some cases, it might be a great option.  On our last trip as we were checking in on the airline counter, we knew our luggage total would be $50 for each check-in bag.  Right then we check how much it would be to upgrade our seat to Premium Economy the amount was $150 for each person but the upgrade included up to 2 free bags. The employee from this airline let us know that is always good to check because the difference in some cases may be less than the cost of the bag.  Even though we didn’t upgrade to Premium Economy but is a tip we will consider in the future.

Sealed bag for more room

  • Another way you can take a carry on bag with a lot more clothes is with this tip.  On our recent trip, we purchased a sealed bag, we bought 2 medium sizes and it was easy to add some of our clothes, roll to push the air out and it helped for us to have more room inside our luggage. It was easy to use and we didn’t need a vacuum or any other product to remove the air inside the bag. (here you can find out more)