When traveling by air, excess baggage charges have been around for ever but earlier today I was listening to a phone-in on the radio and some of the stories were people were being charged extra were quite shocking. Families returned from holiday in Spain were being charged hundreds of Euros and unless they paid up, they were being told they would not be allowed to fly. Therefore, I’ve tried to put together a few tips to help you avoid or at least reduce any charges you may incur.
Whenever you book a flight, part of the ticketing conditions should indicate the checked in luggage allowance. Flying from the UK, this can vary by as much as 8kg per person. If you know in advance that you will exceed your allowance (for example, perhaps you are carrying golf clubs), you should contact the airline as paying charges in advance will almost always reduce your excess costs. You should also be aware that more and more airlines will also restrict the number of items you can check in. If an airline has a limit of 1 piece and 20kg per person, you need to be aware that you may well be charged if you try to check in 2 pieces at 10kg each.
The first thing you need to do is to check your luggage allowance with the airline. This information is usually on their website or you can call them to find out. You should also check the hand luggage allowance as some airlines will strictly enforce the weight of this too. If it is over, you will have to repack items into your checked in baggage and this could put you over your allowance. If you are taking specialist equipment (for example, scuba diving gear), the airline may well give you a slightly larger allowance if you show your certification card at check in.
One of the best items I have purchased recently is a portable set of luggage scales. They are cheap and lightweight which means you can take them with you. I’ve often heard people say they weigh the suitcases by getting on the bathroom scales to weigh themselves and then re-weighing themselves holding the suitcase. That method is all very well when you are at home but how about on your return? One the tricks some airlines have used to trap people into excess charges has been to allow them to be slightly over their allowance on their outbound flight but on the return flight, strictly enforce it.