Beware Holiday Bag Fees

Most once-a-year travelers know airlines typically charge a fee for checked-bags, but even seasoned fliers can find it hard to keep up with all the fee changes, especially during the holidays. We’re here to help with updated fee information and useful tips on avoiding or reducing baggage fees anytime you fly.

Holiday Bag Fees on the Rise

Some airlines routinely hike bag fees for peak travel periods.

  • Frontier: The airline has raised fees for carry-ons and checked luggage for travel during Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and other peak periods in 2016 (cost: $5-$10).
  • JetBlue: After years of allowing travelers a free first-checked bag, the airline began charging for these bags in July of 2015 (cost: $20-$25).
  • Spirit: Fees have been raised for Christmas and New Year’s travel only, and only for first checked-bags (cost: $2).
  • Ryanair: The European discounter always charges different baggage fees depending on the season; Christmas and New Year’s are considered ‘high season’ flights so holiday fees will cost more.
  • WestJet: Fees will remain unchanged through the holidays but anyone taking an extended New Year’s holiday should be aware that as of Jan. 6, there will be no more free checked-bags on all economy fare flights to Europe and ‘sun destinations’ (cost: $25).

How to Save on Bag Fees During the Holidays

Try one of these tips, try them all.

  1. Use a carry-on: Most airlines do not charge a fee for carry-on bags (exceptions: Allegiant, Frontier, Spirit) so save money by traveling light. It’ll also mean a faster getaway from the airport.
  2. Use a very small carry-on: Discount carriers that charge for carry-ons generally allow small backpacks on for free, as long as they fit under the seat.
  3. Fly Southwest: It’s the only U.S. carrier that charges no fee for a carry-on or a first and second checked-bag.
  4. Consolidate: If a family must travel with checked-bags, double up. For example, if a family of four normally travels with four big bags, try packing less so you only need two.
  5. Wear it. Can’t fit everything? Wear what you can’t pack including any heavy outerwear like a coat and be sure to stuff all the pockets (it’s amazing how many socks and pairs of underwear you can shove in a pocket). This will also help you avoid the steep overweight bag fees.

We hope this saves you money. We’d love to hear your tips.

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Updated: November 4, 2015