When you purchase your flight, you may not know if you’ll be checking a bag — or how many — but it’s good to figure it out sooner rather than later. “It’s always best to purchase your checked bags and carry-ons when you book your flight, as that’s usually the cheapest rate,” DiScala says. “You will pay more if you decide to check a bag once you arrive at the airport.” Also, some airlines will still let you pay for luggage in advance as long as you have not checked in for your flight yet, so be sure to research this in advance.
“But, always double check the luggage allotment — and fees — before buying your cheap ticket,” DiScala adds. “If you pack a lot, it probably won’t be worth buying a ticket on a low-cost carrier because they will get you on baggage fees.” However, there could be a way around this, according to DiScala: “It’s good to remember that some of the best rewards credit cards come with free bags, priority boarding, and other benefits and perks. Plus, you’ll earn points/miles for the purchases you’re already making that can help you save even more money — it’s a win-win.”
Ben Mutzabaugh, senior aviation editor at The Points Guy, tells Bustle that you can also just aim to pack light. “And if you’re traveling with a companion, consider packing both of your belongings in a single bag — that’s one less bag to pay for,” he says.
In lieu of checking your bags, another option is shipping them to your destination. “Rates start at $15 and your bag shows up at your destination, so no baggage claim for you either,” Aaron Kirley, president of Lugless, tells Bustle.
Examples Of Some Budget Airlines’ Baggage Fees
easyJet: Checked baggage fees vary depending on the flight route you take and the time of booking. In advance for a bag up to 15kg, you could pay anywhere from $8-42 online and $48 at the airport, while a bag up to 23kg costs $11-45 online or $60 at the boarding gate.
Frontier: Pre-booked, carry-on bags range from $30-45 while checked bags range from $30-50 apiece. If you need to gate-check a carry-on bag, however, it’ll cost $60.
Icelandair: At least one piece of checked baggage is included in your fare unless you bought an Economy Light ticket. If you need to pay for a checked bag, it depends where you’re flying to and prices vary from $59-95.
LEVEL: While their Premium Fare includes checked baggage, their Economy Fare does not. For example, for long-haul flights to Paris, it’s $44 per bag — and add $29 to this if you add the bag at the airport versus in advance online. For long-haul flights to Barcelona, the fee is $55 whether you add the bag online or at the airport.
Norwegian: With Norwegian, it depends on what kind of ticket you have; LowFare does not have a checked bag included in the price. For direct flights, prices range from $12-47 for the first bag and $24-93 for connecting flights. If you pay for bags at the airport, the prices are $53 and $106, for direct domestic and connecting domestic, respectively, and range from $93-185 for international flights.
Ryanair: If you check a bag online, it’s around $28; if you check a bag after you book or at the airport, it’s around $45.
Spirit: Bag prices vary depending on when you add the bags to your ticket. Spirit airlines charges for carry-on bags, too, ranging from $37 (during booking) and $45 (before/during online check-in) to $55 (at the airport) and $65 (at the gate).
Sun Country: While a carry-on bag is included, checking a bag online is $30 (and $35 if you add it while checking in). After booking or at the airport, it’ll cost you $40.