Extortionate excess baggage charges, priority boarding, seat booking charges are just a few examples of things to watch out for when booking your flights. In our first article we cover baggage.

Extortionate excess baggage charges, priority boarding, seat booking charges are just a few examples of things to watch out for when booking your flights. In our first article we cover baggage.

Up until last year airline companies were free to display misleading prices on their websites. Do you remember the 1p flights that soon turned into £100+ when taxes, fuel supplements, payment fees and other costs were added? But a revision to the law last year changed all that and forced airline companies to display the full price of their airline tickets on websites.

So can we now relax when buying tickets? We don’t think so. Whilst the law may have changed so too have the tactics of the airline companies and baggage allowances are our first example.

Many airline companies are now only including a lowly 15kgs baggage allowance in their base price. If you want more you’ll have to pay more.  Just how much more depends on the company. Some will allow you to buy a further 5kgs up front. But, if you don’t read the small print and go over your weight allowance you’ll potentially face expensive excess baggage charges ranging from £6 to £10 per Kilo at check-in.
 
But how can you limit your exposure to sneaky costs?

Check the small print

Firstly, check the small print on the airlines conditions of booking and find out how much allowance is included, how much it is to upgrade and how much excess baggage charges will be. Include these baggage costs in any comparison you make between airline flight prices.

Ditch those old heavy suitcases and invest in some new light weight cases

With many older suitcases weigh in at around 5 kg so there isn’t much allowance left for your stuff. Marks and Spencer have some great lightweight hard wearing cases (see picture for an example). We recently bought 3 cases a large, medium and hand luggage size pull along type for only £29.99 (sale time but now on 3 for 2). The largest case only weighs around 3.5Kgs which means mores left over for luggage.

Weigh your cases before you leave home
 
It’s always best to check the weight of your luggage before you leave home. Not only will that avoid any nasty suprises at check in if you are over weight, but it also means you can check that the airlines scales are roughly similar (a recent government report found many airline scales are inaccurate). A pair of bathroom scales adjusted to zero and showing kilograms will be good enough.

Pack sensibly

Pack your case sensibly and ask yourself if you really need to pack 10 changes of clothes, 5 pairs of shoes. We often find we over pack and don’t wear half the clothes we take. It also means that we don’t have any space left when we come back for presents and other purchases. So, it’s best to go light and come on the limits.

You Are A Suitcase!

Don’t forget there’s no limit on what you weigh or wear, only on what you check in! So, as a regular traveller I wear as many clothes as is comfortable and I wear the heaviest. You’d be suprised how clothes, boots and coats can add weight to your luggage. I often wear two pairs of trousers, my heaviest shoes, a few T-Shirts, fleece jumper, fleece jacket and rain coat (in the winter that is) at check in. I also stuff my pockets with stuff. Security is no problem as long as you don’t have any prohibited items in your pockets because coats have to go through the scanners so I don’t hold up the queues. Then when I’m through security I pack the heavy outer clothes in a folding shopping bag. I’ve been able to carry 7 – 10Kgs more just by doing that!

Charm

And finally, there’s the Derren Brown approach which may be useful if you know you are a few kgs over your allowance. If you are good at judging who the nice check-in staff are, hang back, watch and make your choice. Then when you get to the check-in try charming the person and see if they’ll turn a blind eye to your 2-3Kgs excess baggage weight! Worth a try?

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