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I wasn't paying attention, and it cost me $185 on a recent flight

June 02, 2022
4 min read
A group of colorful suitcases
I wasn't paying attention, and it cost me $185 on a recent flight
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I picked my jaw up off the floor and blinked in confusion. "One hundred fifty dollars?" I repeated, swallowing hard and handing my credit card to the agent at the desk. I had already paid $35 to check my suitcase, and now I was being told that I would have to fork over another $150.

I was on the second leg of a three-part trip that was taking me on the road for nearly a month -- from a cruise industry conference in Florida to a cruise along the California coast, followed by an expedition sailing in Alaska -- and I had packed accordingly. (After all, hiking boots aren't exactly professional, and business attire isn't practical for glacier trekking.)

With how quickly cruising has restarted over the past year, sailings are added to my calendar months in advance. Flights are booked, and I forget about them until it's time to check in. That's exactly what happened here.

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My flight to Florida was part one of the journey. I was booked with United Airlines, my usual carrier. Because I have Premier Silver status (I'm this close to gold, y'all), checked bags up to 70 pounds are free, so I thought nothing of packing everything I needed.

The receipt for bag fees I paid to JetBlue. (Screenshot from Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

However, I completely forgot -- until check-in 24 hours prior, when it was too late to adjust my suitcases -- that the second leg of the trip was with JetBlue. (It used to be my preferred airline, so I book a flight with them every once in a while, just to keep earning points.) I paid the initial $35 checked bag fee on the app during check-in, but when I reached the airport and told them I had an overweight bag, they charged me an additional $150.

Call me a naive traveler because, at that moment, I totally was. I figured they'd at least count the $35 I already paid toward the $150. But no such luck.

To make things worse, I had reached out to American Express just two weeks prior to change my preferred airline from JetBlue to United, so I wasn't even able to cover the cost with my $200 annual airline credit via The Platinum Card® from American Express. (Enrollment is required.)

I had never traveled with an overweight bag before, so this was all new to me. I knew, somewhere in the back of my mind, that airlines charge for extra-heavy bags, but I didn't realize some levy fees that are nearly the cost of another flight.

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Overpacking was a problem on this trip. (Photo by CentralITAlliance/Getty Images)

In the grand scheme of things, JetBlue's overweight bag fees are actually not the most expensive. They fall somewhere in the middle, with United charging $200 for bags between 50 and 70 pounds and $400 for up to 100 pounds. Meanwhile, American Airlines will ding you $100 for the former and $200 for the latter. As for Delta, the fees are $100 and $200, respectively, on most flights that allow overweight luggage.

The moral of the story here is that it's easy for things to fall through the cracks. This is especially true when you're someone who travels a lot or if you travel with one airline so frequently that you're used to certain perks you might not be entitled to with other carriers.

The experience prompted me to go through all of my upcoming travel arrangements to make sure I know what I'm in for. Because it was such an expensive mistake, it also gave me the nudge I needed to return to the carry-on-only mentality to which I strictly adhered pre-pandemic.

All in all, it was a reminder I needed, but it was a costly one. Hopefully, my mistake doesn't have to be yours.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more