The Department of Transportation has this week released figures for baggage fees for the first quarter of 2019. These figures show that US airlines made $1.3 billion dollars profit from luggage fees alone, an increase of $170 million dollars from the same period last year. The cost of traveling with bags has certainly risen lately, with four big US airlines raising their prices in 2018, namely American Airlines, United Airlines, JetBlue and Alaska Airlines. With the majority of travelers unable, or unwilling to fly with hand luggage only, it’s a money spinner for the airlines when charging for baggage on top of the standard ticket prices.

Small price hikes have big impact on families

The news of the latest price rises hasn’t really hit the news hard as a extra few dollars per suitcase isn’t necessarily the stuff of major headlines. However, when you take into account that this cost is each way, and nearly everyone takes a suitcase in two directions, the outlay for luggage can really add up for families when each family member has at least one bag.

How to get around excessive baggage fees

There are ways to avoid, or reduce your baggage fees though. Of course, traveling light is the obvious answer and it can be done. Many resorts and hotels will have laundry facilities, and most of us pack more than we need to anyway. Wearing your bulkiest clothing and shoes for the flight will free up space in your carry on bag. Sharing a suitcase can also save you money, just be sure that your case fits into the size and weight limits of the airline. A luggage scale to check weights at home can save you a lot of hassle at the airport.

It’s also a good plan to compare bag fees when you’re looking at flight prices. That bargain flight might not be such a good deal once you’ve added on bags if you can can find an airline such as Southwest Airlines that doesn’t charge for luggage, instead including up to two bags within its flight ticket pricing structure. There are even businesses that specialize in shipping luggage to your destination. Of course there will be a charge for this service, but it could work out cheaper than the airline rates for extra bags so it may be an option worth checking out before you fly. If you have a co-branded airline credit card, check the offers available as some, such as Delta and Continental give you free checked bags when you buy your flight tickets via the credit card.

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