How to Avoid One of the Most Common (and Expensive) Airline Fees

There’s a lot to like in the Wall Street Journal’s recent article on avoiding airline fees because saving money isn’t always easy during the holidays – or anytime – but let’s keep it real simple: Here’s one easy way to save every time you fly.

The right (and wrong) bag to buy

Easy Way to Save $50 Per Person

The best way to avoid the most common airline fee is:

  • Travel with a carry-on bag instead of checking a suitcase.

Now let us explain why.

The Benefits of Carry-on Bags

  • Cheap: Most airlines charge a fee to check a bag and they’ve been doing this since 2008. It’s not cheap, either: AirTran, Alaska, American, Delta, US Airways, United and Virgin America all charge $50 round-trip for a single checked bag while other carriers’ prices vary (only JetBlue and Southwest do not charge for a the first checked bag and Southwest gives you two for free).
  • Even cheaper: If you’re traveling as a family of four and each uses a carry-on, that’s a total savings of $200.

How to pack a carry-on with absolutely everything

  • Convenient: You don’t have to waste time at the baggage counter getting your luggage checked in, which could be especially important if security lines are long.
  • Quicker getaways: Once you land, no waiting around at the baggage carousel for your luggage to appear – you simply walk out the door.
  • No more lost bags: A carry-on bag that flies with you in the cabin is a bag that cannot get lost.
  • Watch out for: Two airlines now charge for carry-on bags, Spirit and Frontier (in certain cases) and these charges can be steep.

Downside of Carry-on Bags – And Solution

The only problem we’ve seen with carry-ons is their increasing popularity which can mean a lack of overhead storage space, but many newer planes being introduced by several airlines offer more spacious bins. Alternatively, a squashy duffle or gym-type bag that fits under the seat in front of you will alleviate such concerns.

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Published: December 20, 2013