Having to pay for overweight luggage at the airport can cost travelers big time. This is why in today’s article I’ll be sharing my favorite tips and hacks including my absolute favorite one at the end. So you never have to pay for an overweight bag at the airport again.
There are two times that you may have your luggage weighed at the airport and be asked to pay an additional fee.
The First time is when you arrive at the airport and you check in with an agent to receive your ticket and drop off any bags that you need to check.
The second time would be when you go to board the plane with your carry-on luggage. Then if your bags are going to be weighed it’s probably going to happen when you first check in with this agent before you go through airport security.
They have scales right beside their desks. the agent is always going to weigh any bag that is being checked. And if your checked bag or suitcase is overweight, you will need to pay an additional fee. This fee can sometimes be as high as 75 us dollars.
You can see the airline weight limits for checked and carry-on bags on their website.
1. Arrive Early For Check-in
The first tip to avoid having to pay for an overweight bag would be to arrive at the airport early. At least three hours before the flight is set to depart.
The agent knows the maximum weight in luggage that will be allowed on the plane. If you’re one of the first to check-in, chances are that they are well under that maximum weight limit, and they may be more lenient if your bag is a little over the allowance per passenger.
On the other hand, if you check in late they may know that the plane is already filling up. And already reaching that maximum luggage weight. At this point, you could be just a pound over and be asked to pay. In the event that your bags are overweight by arriving early, you’re also going to have a little bit of extra time to try the following tips.
2. Redistribute Items
Before paying any baggage fees consider moving to the side and redistributing weight between your luggage. If it’s your checked bag that is overweight then take things out and move them into your carry-on. If it’s your carry-on that’s overweight take some things out of there and move them into the bag that you are intending to check.
3. Load Yourself Up With Heavy Things
Something else you can do if your luggage is overweight at the airport. Would be to take things out of your suitcase or your bag and load yourself up with them instead.
An example would be taking your beach towel out of your bag and putting it around your neck. Take another coat and add another layer. Filling your pockets with things. There’s a lot of room to get creative here. Whatever you need to do to get the luggage within the airline’s weight limit.
I’ve had situations in the past where I’ve moved to the side and started rearranging things or loading myself up with things. And then when I went back to the agent, my bag was still slightly over the weight limit. But they just kind of admired the effort and let me get away with it.
4. Throw Something Away
You may also want to consider throwing something away. For example, it may be cheaper to throw away a big bottle of shampoo that you have in your checked bag. Then buy a new shampoo when you arrive at your destination than it would be to pay the 75 overweight checked bag fee.
If you are traveling with friends and family, you have even more options to avoid an additional charge for your luggage. You can use all of the tips that I’ve mentioned so far. Such as redistributing things from your bag into their bag. Or loading them up with some of your items like that towel around your neck. Maybe filling their pockets.
You can also have someone that you’re traveling with standing to the side with your carry-on luggage while you go into the check-in counter. They can’t weigh your carry-on bag if they don’t know you have it, sneaky huh!
I mentioned earlier that you are most likely going to have your bags weighed. When you arrive at the airport and check in with an airline representative.
6. Bypass The Check-in Counter
So it would make sense that a great way to avoid having your luggage weight at all would be to completely bypass this in-person check-in.
If you fly just carry on luggage and check-in for your flight online during the 24-hour online check-in window. You can usually receive your boarding pass by email before you even head to the airport.
If you arrive at the airport with carry-on luggage only and your boarding pass over your email. You do not need to go to the check-in agent at all. You can head straight to the security gates. And as a side note, the security agents are not going to care how much stuff you are planning to bring with you as a carry-on. They do not care if your bag is overweight and they will not weigh your bag. It is only the airline that is going to care. This is why the next time you may get into trouble after going through this security gate is when you go to board the plane.
I don’t know if you have ever flown with just carry-on luggage and not checked a bag. I try to do this for all of my trips but it is definitely not easy.
So as I mentioned, you can avoid the check-in counter by choosing not to check a bag. You are still at risk of having your carry-on luggage weighed as you go to board the airplane.
7. Bring a Backpack
The next tip is to pack your carry-on luggage in both a backpack and a carry-on approved suitcase. By intending to board the plane with both a backpack and a carry-on approved suitcase you now have another option where you can redistribute things if you needed to.
This gives you the opportunity to take things from your carry-on approved suitcase and move them into your backpack if your suitcase is deemed overweight.
I’ve taken well over 100 flights and I have never had my backpack weighed. You probably won’t either, so this is a great opportunity to take things from the carry-on suitcase and move them to your backpack if you need to lower the weight of the suitcase.
8. Use a Shopping Bag
And then if all else fails. My absolute favorite way and one of my favorite travel hack to get extra things onto the airplane. Would be to get an extra carry-on for free in the form of a plastic bag.
I will either bring a plastic bag with me, like a subway bag or a chipotle bag, or I will buy my lunch somewhere at the airport. And then I will keep the bag, and I will fill it with the extra items from my suitcase. I mean the heavy items to lower the weight of my carry-on.
Having an extra plastic or paper bag that you fill with items is just going to look like something that you purchased at the airport. So you can usually have a backpack, a carry-on suitcase, and then a plastic bag with your lunch, or whatever items you decide to fill it with. And usually will have no trouble bringing that onto the airplane as a sneaky third carry-on.
Then to state the obvious, the absolute best way to not have to pay for an overweight checked bag, or to not have to pay to check your carry-on bag because it’s overweight. Would be just to know the weight limits before you head to the airport. You can see them on the airline’s website and then follow them.
It’s not always easy to comply with the airline’s weight limits. So definitely stay tuned for the next tips about traveling and subscribe to our newsletter to be updated for new hacks and tips to pack light.
Safe travels 🙂