Summer Air Travel Tips: Playing the airline luggage game

With summer mere months away, vacations are looming large. For those going to destinations requiring air travel, getting to and from your destination via plane has changed quite a bit in the past ten or so years. 

Traveling can be an enjoyable and adventurous past time. It used to be that airline passengers were able to check luggage for free but that luxury has become a thing of the past. Now, many of us have gotten used to packing light(er) and bringing a carry-on to avoid paying additional fees for checked bags. This can be challenging, especially for families and those who, well, haven't quite gotten the art of packing light down to a science.

Recently, a number of airlines have announced they will begin offering what they call "basic economy fares." This fare is less expensive because, among other amenities, it eliminates use of the overhead bins by those passengers who choose this ticket type. They are restricted instead to personal items that fit beneath their seat or paying the fee to check a bag. By paying luggage fees, this bargain basement fare will cost more and much of the savings is eliminated.

Here are some tips on how to work with (or around) the system:

1. Most major carriers offer complimentary checked and carry-on bags to customers who have their credit cards and to their tier customers

2. Choose an airline that offers 'extra' amenities, such as free checked bags and carry-ons

3. Purchase a ticket based on the type of trip you're taking. It may be just a few dollars more for a ticket than allows carry-ons or a free checked bag.

4. Weigh all bags before leaving home and ensure your bags meet airlines size restrictions to avoid any issues at the airport.

5. Bring a larger personal bag and include a change of clothes and other items to lighten the load of your primary suitcase. 

6. Price shop directly on the airline's websites so you will know exactly what is or is not included in each fare.

7. Don't wait until the last minute decide to check a bags. Many airlines are charging extra fees to do so. 

Strategies for Packing Light:

  1. Buy a lightweight suitcase that is expandable, giving you more or less space as needed.
  2. Wear VS packing your heaviest items, including heavy boots/shoes and jackets
  3. Ship your bags, especially if your packing things like skiing equipment, golf clubs and the like. Although you still have to pay, it can cost you less and does minimize a lot of hassle
  4. Think small. Pare down your wardrobe to basic essentials and keep your color scheme basic.
  5. If you buy clothing or other items while on vacation, it may pay to ship these back home.



Article excerpts from Costco Connection