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Believe it or not, there was a time when checked baggage fees weren’t the norm. In fact, this is a fairly recent development as airlines have turned to ancillary fees as a way to generate more revenue from passengers.
While checked baggage fees are largely seen as a hit to airlines’ bottom lines, they are of course at the expense of passengers’ wallets. Federal Bureau of Transportation report that the airlines generated a staggering $5.8 Billion baggage fee only in 2019.
While these fees are a breeze for airlines, they can be frustrating for passengers who have had to accept the fact that travel is increasingly expensive.
Fortunately, however, there are plenty of ways to get rid of the pesky baggage fees that have become the norm over the past few years. Before diving into those tips, keep in mind that if you’re flying on a long-haul international flight with any airline, check with the airline directly to see if you’ll have to pay for checked baggage. send or not. Some airlines charge for checked baggage with all basic economy fares, while some airlines charge based on the region you’re flying in. It pays to do your research ahead of time.
Before you book your next flight, here are five easiest ways you can avoid paying those annoying extra fees.
As soon as airlines started charging for checked baggage, credit card issuers began refining the benefits of airline co-branded cards to include a free checked bag for the owner. cards (and in some cases, their companions). To this day, this benefit is fairly common on airline co-branded cards – and can end up saving you a lot of money, especially if you travel more than a few times per year.
Here are some co-branded offerings from major US airlines that allow you to have free checked baggage when you fly.
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card: The first checked baggage is free for you and up to six companions on the same journey. This card has an annual fee of $75.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®: The first checked baggage is free for you and up to four people traveling with you on a domestic journey. This card charges a $99 annual fee, which is waived for the first year.
AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®: The first checked baggage is free for you and up to four people traveling with you on a domestic journey. This card charges a $99 annual fee.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®: The first checked baggage is free for you and up to eight people traveling on a domestic journey. This card charges $450 annually.
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card: The first checked baggage is free for you and up to eight people traveling with you. This card does not charge an annual fee for the first year, then $99 each year thereafter. (See rates and fees.)
Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard®: Free first checked baggage for primary cardholders when you use the card to purchase tickets directly from Hawaiian Airlines. This card charges a $99 annual fee.
JetBlue Plus Card: The first checked baggage is free for you and up to three people traveling with you when you use the pass to purchase tickets. This card charges a $99 annual fee.
United Explorer card: The first checked baggage is free for you and one traveling companion when you use the pass to purchase tickets. This card has no annual fee for the first year, then $95 each year thereafter.
United Quest Thẻ Card: The first and second checked baggage is free for you and one traveling companion when you use the pass to purchase tickets. This card charges $250 annually.
United Club Infinite Card: The first and second checked baggage is free for you and one traveling companion when you use the pass to purchase tickets. This card charges an annual fee of $525.
An airline’s co-branded credit card isn’t the only way to make sure your luggage flies free. Some premium unbranded travel rewards credit cards come with annual travel credits that can be used to cover the cost of one checked baggage.
Here are some of the best options:
- Platinum Card® from American Express: Amex Platinum card – considered one of the best travel card – offers $200 annual airline credit that can be applied to non-random airline purchases, including checked baggage. You must apply for this benefit and you are limited to one airline of your choice for one year.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®The Sapphire Reserve offers a flexible $300 annual travel credit, as any travel expenses are eligible. If you have to pay for a bag, simply charge it to your card and you’ll be issued a credit statement for that amount.
- Capital One Venture X: This new Capital One product offers $300 annual travel credit on purchases made through the Capital One Travel portal, but also allows you to redeem points at the rate of one cent per year to cover eligible travel purchases. For example, if you paid a $30 baggage fee with your card, you can choose to use 3,000 points to remove the charge from your statement.
Airlines reward their most loyal passengers with perks like early boarding, offers for better seat access (or even free upgrades), access to airport lounges and more – including more generous checked bag allowances.
If you fly enough to achieve elite status with a major US airline, you won’t have to worry about paying to check your luggage. And as you reach higher levels of elite status, you’ll be able to check in more bags – and heavier – at no extra charge.
Let’s take a look at the different allowances available to elite members on major US airlines.
- Alaska Airlines: MVP and MVP Gold members receive two free check bags. MVP Gold 75K and MVP Gold 100K members receive three free check bags.
- American Airlines: AAdvantage Gold members receive one free deposit bag, AAdvantage Platinum members receive two free check bags, and AAdvantage Platinum Pro and AAdvantage Executive Platinum members receive three free check bags. (Remember, you can now earn American Airlines elite status exclusively through spend on your co-branded credit card.)
- Delta Airlines: Silver Medallion members get a free check-in bag up to 70 pounds — and they can check out a free extra bag if they also have a Delta co-branded credit card. Gold Medalists receive two free bags of checks up to £70 each. Platinum and Diamond members receive three free check bags up to £70 each.
- Hawaiian Airlines: Pualani Gold members get two free check-in bags and Pualani Platinum members get three free check-in bags.
- JetBlue Airways: TrueBlue Mosaic and Mosaic+ members get two free check bags
- Spirit Airlines: Free Spirit Gold members get a free check bag.
- United Airlines: Silver members get one free deposit bag up to £70, Gold members get two free deposit bags up to £70 each, and Platinum and Premier 1K members get three Free check-in bags up to £70 each.
Another way to make sure you won’t have to pay extra for checked baggage is to book in first or business class. In most cases, you’ll be allowed to check in one – or even two – baggage for free when booking in premium cabins.
Of course, tickets will likely be more expensive, and the savings on checked baggage probably won’t be enough to cover the price difference. However, it is worth considering if you know that you will be traveling with a lot of luggage.
Also, keep in mind the power of points in miles. While the cash fare will be much higher than the economy fare, you can use your points and miles – or the money you earn from bonus travel credit card – to cover the cost of a ticket. In fact, the exchange of premiums is usually a number best use your score and mileage.
For several years, Southwest has sought to set itself apart from the competition by adhering to its “Free Baggage” policy, which allows each ticketed passenger to check two pieces of baggage free of charge to their final destination. With most major legacy US airlines charging around $30 for first baggage and more for second baggage, choosing Southwest over another airline can result in significant savings. – especially if you’re traveling with family.
The easiest way to avoid paying for a checked bag is to not check a bag. If you can travel light, pack all your things in one carry a bag and a travel backpack and take it with you on the plane, which will also save you time at the end of your journey.
Be careful, however, to simply fly with happy separation just doesn’t always get you free. If you are flying a low-cost airline such as Frontier Airlines or Spirit Airlines, you may be charged a baggage fee. And, if you opt for a basic economy ticket with most major legacy airlines, you’ll also get baggage privileges on board. The key point here is to book a non-basic economy class ticket with your old airline if you plan to only bring hand luggage.
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