Watch Out for Overweight Baggage Fees

Whether you’ll be flying over the holidays or any time you travel, don’t blow the money you save on your cheap flights by paying overweight bag fees.

Face it, the regular bag fees are bad enough. And here at FareCompare, our motto is, why pay a penny more than you have to?

See the Domestic Airline Fee Chart for Bag Fees (and more)

Overweight Bags Equal Expensive Extra Fees

The difference of a single pound can cost you a lot of money. For example, on United, you can check a bag that weighs up to 50 pounds for a fee of $25 each-way. However, if that bag is considered overweight, you’ll pay an additional fee that’s much more expensive. Here’s how it breaks down:

United Overweight Bag Fees

  • 51 to 70 pounds: $100 each-way
  • 71-100 pounds: $200 each-way

Again, the above fees are in addition to the $25 checked-bag fee.

What to Do if Bags are Lost or Delayed

Overweight Carryon Bag Fees

So far, the only published fees for carryon bags that I am aware of pertain to Spirit Airlines, which charges you from $20-$40 to bring any carryon aboard a flight. However, Hawaiian lists a weight limit of 25 pounds for carryon bags, and although I cannot find a specific “overweight carryon fee” on their website, I was indeed dinged some money when my hand luggage was found to be a few pounds over the limit earlier this year.

International Carryon Bag Overweight Charges

It’s trickier on some international airlines. Ryanair for example does not charge a carryon fee or overweight carryon fee per se, but you are allowed only one carryon which includes things like a shopping bag or even a purse. Plus, if that single item weighs more than 22 pounds, it will be treated as checked-baggage and you will pay the fee of $68.

Tips for Decreasing Bag Weight

1. Use a scale: Before heading to the airport, weigh your bag at home to avoid nasty surprises.

2. Redistribute weight: If traveling with friends or family, pack so that each bag is under 50 lbs.

3. Ship ahead: If you’re bringing gifts or other heavy items, ship them ahead by ground.


Published: November 14, 2011