5 Creative Ways to Avoid Airline Fees

If you routinely buy first class tickets for weekend getaways to Paris (sample June fare: $7,944)  you probably don’t care about extra fees. The rest of us do. Here are some creative ways to avoid them and all those other annoying extra charges.

LISTEN: Rick Seaney has more ideas on avoiding fees.

1. Problem: Checked-bag Fees

Creative solution: Wearable luggage. You may look ridiculous wearing these lumpy-looking coats and dresses which are covered in huge pockets (OK, you will look ridiculous) but wearable luggage can mean you won’t need any bag at all. However, since airline seats are narrow at best, it would be interesting to see a luggage-wearer try to sit down.

Alternative: Learn to pack a carry-on like a pro. It’s easy and we have a video showing how to do it step-by-step.

2. Problem: Overweight Baggage Fees

Creative solution: If your bag is too heavy, you could get hit with excess bag fees costing you hundreds of dollars – and that’s on top of the usual checked-bag fee. If you’re traveling with others, ask a friend or family member to take some of your extra stuff and sort this out before the bags get weighed. If traveling solo, dump heavy stuff like shampoo and conditioner. Or shoes you never really liked.

Alternative: Beg the airline rep to give you a pass on the weight, especially if you’re only over by a pound or two (but it probably won’t work).

3.  Problem: Food Fees

Creative solution: Do we really have to tell you to bring food from home? Pack your own lunch since it’ll be better and cheaper than any airline food and a lot cheaper than most airport sandwiches.  And if you want a drink, you can bring your own alcohol as long as it’s not in a container larger than 3.4 ounces.

Alternative: Dine on free packs of peanuts and pretzels (if your airline still offers them).

4. Problem: Early Boarding Fees

Creative solution: Insinuate yourself in with a family group and hope the airline still allows children go to the head of the line (some no longer offer this perk).

Alternative: If you are traveling with children and you know the airline doesn’t allow early family boarding anymore, ask anyway. Sometimes it works if you ask nicely. Or consider an airline-branded credit card that offers early boarding for members.

5.  Problem: Change Fees

Creative solution: If you think there’s a good chance you will have to change your itinerary, consider buying tickets on Southwest, the only airline without this irritating and expensive fee.

Alternative: Think fast! Airlines give you 24 hours to change your mind after booking a flight.

Image: Wearable luggage by Jaktogo

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Published: April 16, 2014