If You Think U.S. Airline Bag Fees are Bad, Read This

New Higher Baggage Fees

If you’re flying to Europe this summer and plan to travel on some of the local airlines such as Ryanair, Wizz Air or EasyJet, good for you; chances are, you’ll save on airfare. However, please be alert to the potential minefield of baggage fees on Europe’s low cost airlines.

Ryanair Raises Baggage Fees for Summer

For example, Dublin-based Ryanair has just raised its checked-bag fees for the summer season, from about $24 to nearly $33 for a first checked-bag. Not too bad, but there are a couple of “gotchas”:

  • Ryanair Carryon Allowance: You get one carryon item free, but only one and there are no extras allowed. A purse or a laptop or a camera or a shopping bag counts as the single-allowed carryon.
  • Ryanair Checked-Bag Weight Allowance: Most U.S. airlines allow you up to 50 pounds in weight for a single checked bag. Ryanair has a two-tiered system: pay one price and you get about 33 pounds, or pay a substantially higher price and get 44 pounds.

Ryanair Excess Weight Fees

If you go over your weight allowance, you pay dearly. Say you traveled to Europe on United Airlines with a 50 pound checked-bag; that didn’t cost you a dime. However, travel with that same bag on Ryanair and unthinkingly pay the standard bag fee which includes the 33 pound weight limit, and not only will you be charged a peak checked-bag fee of $33, you will also pay nearly $300 in overweight fees. And you’ll still pay more, even if you pay for the higher weight allowance.

Other Europe Discount Airline Baggage Fees

  • Wizz Air: Travel on Hungary-based Wizz Air with a checked-bag and your fee will vary greatly, depending on whether you check your bag online, at the airport or the airport gate.
  • EasyJet: Travel on London-based EasyJet but go easy on the souvenirs; if your checked-bag weighs in at 70 pounds or more, they flat out won’t transport it no matter what you pay.

Is this starting to make U.S. domestic airline baggage fees a little easier to bear? Here are some baggage tips for traveling on discount airlines in Europe or traveling anywhere including the U.S.

Baggage Fee Tips

  1. Use a Carryon: Whenever possible, use a carryon bag but keep its weight down.
  2. Pool Bag Weight: If you and your family are checking bags, be sure to distribute the weight evenly to protect yourself from overweight fees
  3. Research Bag Fees: Look online ahead of time so you know all your airline baggage fees in advance, and avoid unpleasant surprises.
  4. Look into Ground Transportation: It may ultimately be cheaper to ship some luggage.

Learn more about FareCompare and the cheapest days to fly and best times to buy airline tickets for year-round savings.


Published: June 6, 2011