“It’s gonna cost me whaaaat?”
Each airline has its own rules and allowances with baggage so it pays to be vigilant when it comes to taking lots of stuff with you when you travel as the excess charges can be ridiculously high.
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I’ve taken lots of flights recently and as I’ve been travelling for 3 months through different climates (and shopped along the way), my suitcase has pretty much always been full.
When I am travelling heavy – as opposed to just a weekend away with a backpack – I carry one of these, a small handheld device that weighs my baggage in kilograms and pounds – it even tell me the outside temperature in Celsius and Fahrenheit. It’s light and only weighs a couple of grams so doesn’t add too much to the limit.
I always seek out information on my luggage allowance and any associated costs for any excess. Sometimes I have been able to prepay an additional amount online, sometimes I have not. On a recent flight with Jetstar Asia, I knew I was going to be over my 20 kilogram limit by about 3 kilos. I learnt online, that at the airport, Jetstar charges $50 for any excess over the allowance you have up to 12 kilograms. Knowing I was going to be over I went online and purchased an additional 5 kilograms for USDS$12. That saved me over 70% if I had paid at the airport.
Unfortunately, another flight I took within USA/Canada was a codeshare flight, booked with one airline with their flight number, but operated by another. Generally, US and Canadian Carriers charge for checked luggage anyway, but as it was a codeshare, I couldn’t prepay online for my suitcase, let alone find the cost for excess. Each airline was directing me to the other. At the airport it was going to be CAD$105 for being 4 pounds over – Four pounds is 1.82kgs… Not much over…., So, while not ideal and to the err of the travellers behind me waiting in line to check in, this is where the old ‘carry the heavy things’ came in, I managed to take enough items to reduce the cost down to CAD$26.25. I must have looked a treat, a hoodie around my waist, 2 pairs of jeans hanging out my over-stuffed backpack, the camera over my shoulder and my heavy coat over my arms, all in Summer.
The thing is, OK I get that more weight = more fuel = higher cost for the airline = higher fares, and if everyone brought a couple of pounds or kilos each with them over the limit then we’re talking an extra 300 kilos or around 660 pounds. However, if we all take that extra kilo from our suitcase and carry it under our arm… is the weight still not the same?
On my last flight home I was again over the limit, but being a flight from the USA, it is the piece system, so I was allowed 2 pieces of checked baggage at 23 kilograms per piece. The lovely check in agent gave me an extra bag to put some of my belongings in. Now I normally wouldn’t travel with one of these, but it was a saving grace to be offered it, other wise I would have had to either throw stuff away or buy myself another bag – at airport prices that could have been high!
One last thing, if you know you are going to be way over before hand, say you’re moving to another country for an extended period, it might be wise to send some luggage ahead through an excess luggage provider. I’ve not used one myself but know their prices can be a lot lower than when you fly.
FreakyFliers Excess Baggage Tips:
- Check your baggage allowance before you fly. Ask your agent or check the airlines website for your ticketed baggage allowance.
- If you have booked online and prepaid your baggage on a low cost carrier, understand how much you have and the additional cost for going over your personal limit. Just a few kilograms can cost a few dollars more than the money you saved on those shoes you bought..
- Check if you can pre-pay for additional or excess baggage online through the airlines website – it’s often quite cheaper than paying at the airport.
- Carry a small weigh scale or use the scales in the hotel to gauge what you’re carrying.
- If you think you will go over, keep the heavy stuff in your suitcase near where you will open it, don’t pack the ‘bricks’ at the bottom, you don’t want to unpack your whole suitcase in front of others – especially near the end of a trip where you might air your dirty laundry….
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