Wednesday, September 21, 2011

$400 or More To Check An Overweight Bag?!?

A Twitter acquaintance alerted me to this latest outrage. Her tweet began with the words "The madness has to stop!".

How right she is.

According to CBS News and USA Today, a number of airlines have raised their prices on overweight bags recently to rates that echo the airfares themselves.

Continental's price for a bag weighing between 71 and 100 pounds on an international flight is now a whopping $400. United Airlines is charging that same fee for bags of that weight on intercontinental flights. But the most egregious fee award has to be given to American Airlines, which socks Asia-bound passengers with a $450 fee per overweight bag.

And what about the regular, first-bag fees? Those are averaging an ugly $38 on domestic flights and $43 internationally.


With fees this high, travelers need to be more careful than ever before about how they pack and book air travel. Some suggestions:
  • Pack Light: We'll start with the obvious solution: don't carry the world in your suitcase! The last time I checked a bag was on Ryanair this summer (as their carry-on regulations are the smallest in the industry). Before that, it had been years since I'd checked a bag. And you know what? I enjoy my travels more with less stuff along. I'm not endangering my back, I can move from place to place quicker, I never have to worry about lost luggage when I board and I get out of the airport much faster than my fellow passengers. Try it, you'll like it!
  • Ship: With fees this high, it will be cheaper to ship luggage in many instances. For a recent piece detailing the prices involved and the methods of shipping available to travelers, click here.
  • Price in luggage fees when you're looking at airfares: Though Southwest, Alaska Airlines and JetBlue sometimes seem like the pricier option, they may end up costing less than other carriers because of their generous baggage policies. Add up all the fees before you book your next flight.
  • Buy lighter luggage: Sometimes its the weight of the bag itself that will put you over the top!
 The TSA has been trying to get the airlines to do a better job of revealing their fees either on or close to the carrier's booking pages. Let's hope those regulations don't get shot down by the lawsuits that have been launched to stop them from going into effect in early 2012. When fees are this high, its crucial for passengers to have a handle on just what they'll likely end up paying when they next fly.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. This is really a crime. It just keeps getting more expensive to fly. And their profits continue to soar. I feel that they've determined that we can't operate without them and that if they all gouge us uniformly we'll have no choice but to acquiesce. I'm appalled.

  3. Hi Central Park Tours: You're right about the ever-increasing fees. However, the airlines profits aren't soaring as a result, to be fair. The major airlines of the US have posted a loss for seven out of the last 10 years. I still don't think that justifies crazy fees like this, but my guess is this dismal record may be part of the reason we're seeing these awful new fees.

  4. I found out the hard way myself as well, while on a trip bound to Africa. My connecting flight was in Paris coming from Dallas, TX and the overweight fees were astonishing high since I had several bags. So I refused to pay it, booked a hotel at Orly airport and freighted most of my luggage's with a cheap cargo company instead of paying those insane fees... I came up ahead and enjoyed Paris at the same time...:)

  5. Useful advices. But imagine us, divers, as we pack light... Especially those ones who travel with underwater camera sets. No one will spend the price of a camera on a single extra charge for an overweight bag.