There Are Legit Ways to Avoid Airline Bag Fees — Your Foot Isn’t One of Them

Mar 21, 2019

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Airlines make billions of dollars per year on fees alone — yes, that’s billions with a ‘b.’ Those $35 bag fees, $19 seat assignment fees, $150 change fees and more all add up to a very real percentage of revenue for most airlines. Given all those billions in fees that travelers around the globe pay (in addition to the cost of the tickets themselves), it comes as no surprise that some travelers try and get a bit creative to avoid or minimize their portion of those fees.

Recently, a traveler on Interjet (an airline headquartered out of Mexico City), was caught on camera using a bit of physics to his wallet’s advantage when checking in a bag. By surreptitiously supporting a bit of the bag’s weight with his foot, the odds are high that the full weight of the bag did not register on the scale for the agent. While this sneaky approach wouldn’t have saved him from a checked bag fee altogether, perhaps he was trying to avoid an overweight bag fee.

While he might have been successful in saving a few bucks, his idea is actually a bad one. There are much easier (and, frankly, safer) ways to avoid checked bag fees than misleading the airline about your bag’s true weight (and hoping no one notices your foot underneath).

Here are non-scammy TPG-approved ways to avoid airline bag fees:

  • Have the right credit card: Many co-branded airline credit cards will protect the card holder from checked bag fees, and sometimes that perk extends to up to eight other travelers on the same reservation. In the event you purchase a Basic Economy Fare, having a co-branded airline card can also help you still bring on a full-sized carry-on in some cases. Here are tips for avoiding checked bag fees on domestic airlines and tips for leveraging credit cards to avoid bag fees on family trips.
  • Fly airlines that don’t charge bag fees: Okay, domestically this list is short, but if bag fees are a real deal-breaker for you, then look to airlines that don’t charge them. In the US, that means that Southwest Airlines in your new best friend. Some US-based carriers may also skip a bag fee on international routes. Google Flights can help you include the bag fee cost in your fare search.
  • Use credit card travel credits: If you find yourself on a one-off flight with an airline where you don’t have elite status or a co-branded credit card that will help you avoid bag fees, your credit cards can still have your back. Multiple credit cards offer flexible annual travel or airline fee credits you can use to cover the cost of bag fees and more. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve has a $300 annual travel credit, Citi Prestige has an annual $250 travel credit and the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card has an annual $100 airline incidental fee statement credit.

Bottom Line

TPG supports the quest to avoid airline bag fees by choosing the right airline, leveraging elite status or having the right credit card — but please don’t be the guy relying on a foot to sneak a few pounds by the agent.

Featured photo by Image Source/Getty Images

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