Do Not Pay Bag Fees: 5 New Avoidance Techniques

As most U.S. flyers know, there are two main ways to avoid baggage fees: Fly Southwest – the lone remaining carrier with free checked-bags – or use a carry-on. However, Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit charge for all bags.

New Ways to Avoid Bag Fees

But hold on! There are other methods to game the system. Here are five mostly new ideas to avoid the dreaded fees.

1. Agree to advertising

A new travel club called Orion offers some seemingly* nice perks including free luggage plus gift cards to cover the baggage fees but as always, there’s a catch; the free bags will be walking billboards, covered with advertising such as sports team logos or movie titles. Sign up for the free ‘billboard’ luggage now but it won’t be available until February. Orion  membership fees are waived for the first one million to enroll while the rest will reportedly pay $19.99 a year.

2. Use squash & flatten packing technique

An easy do-it-yourself method for cramming a lot of clothes in a little space: Fold a shirt or pair of pants lengthwise then roll it up to create a tight tube, and insert this tube into a gallon-size zip bag. Next, place unzipped bag on a chair and sit on it, hard; when all the air comes out, zip it shut. A FareCompare employee calls this her Sit & Zip packing method; she filled a carry-on with a dozen of these pancake-flattened zip bags for a 12 day trip to Europe. She added, “I had plenty of clothes and they were all wrinkle-free.”

3. Bundle up, Part I

What if your airline charges for carry-ons? Even super-discounter Spirit allows a free personal item which can be a large purse or small backpack (which must fit under the seat), so wear your biggest/heaviest items (including bulkiest shoes) and fill every available pocket. The perfect way to pack for a weekend getaway.

4. Bundle up, Part II

Credit cards can offer bundles of perks including free bags. Check out credit card comparison sites (NerdWallet seems to have a good one) to see what you get, and what the card companies will charge you (if anything).

5. Try for refunds

The GetService website is new to us but sounds intriguing*; its goal is to solve problems with businesses such as the airline industry and this could include anything from lost bags to delayed flights. It’s a substitute of sorts for customer service, but as you might expect, there are no guarantees. On the other hand, GetService does not charge a fee.

*We can’t say for sure because we haven’t tried it, and in any event, FareCompare does not endorse products.


Updated: November 17, 2015