Above image courtesy of Canadian Pacific
Baggage fees have all but gone overboard. Believe it or not, there once was a time that carrying one bag, or even two bags was a given and was included as part of your already exorbitant ticket price. Traveling has certainly changed over the years becoming less and less customer oriented. It really is a matter of time until the cost of airfare is measured by total weight and not just seat fare. Personally I would rather they just raise their prices by $25 and not tell me.
But I digress. Hopefully this week’s travel hack can help budget travelers, like us, save some money!
So, short of getting on the plane wearing 4 layers of clothing or trying to shove everything into a fanny pack, there’s a way to beat the baggage fee creep: Gate check your bag and save yourself the baggage fees.
We’ve all seen it; the bags sitting alongside the gangway waiting to be ushered on the plane. Not only do they get loaded last (which means they get unloaded first), but they’re generally getting free passage to your final destination. You could always take Southwest, but unfortunately Southwest doesn’t fly to every destination and won’t always be an option.
How can I avoid baggage fees?
I’m glad you asked! The idea is to bring your bag through security as a carryon, and once at the departure gate, ask to have it gate checked. That’s it!
I came across this hack a few years ago, and fearing that the policy might have changed, I decided to try it again on a recent flight to San Francisco. And, I’m happy to report that it still works (yes, I was the ass dragging the giant pack through the lounge. I promise it was for a good cause). More often than not, the agents will be more than happy to accommodate -especially on crowded flights- in order to save space within the cabin. Sometimes you’ll even see the agents scouring the waiting area for oversized carryon just to gate check them anyways. Obviously you won’t be able to tote your 50lb plastic enforced suitcase with you, but you can certainly test the limits of what defines a carryon!
Word of warning though; the agents do have the authority to charge a fee, but I have yet to come across this myself. Just remember, being pleasant with a smile goes a long way. As they have the authority to charge you the fee, they also have the discretion not to. Usually the crew will be more than happy to gate check your bag if asked nicely and to also keep the flow going. The last thing they want is to hold up the boarding process, ultimately delaying the plane.
Just be prepared for the worse case scenario of having to pay the baggage fee. If it works, you’re golden, and if it doesn’t, you were going to pay for the baggage fee anyways.
Did this work for you? Please share your experience if you’ve tried this hack.
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