Hotels and airlines have gone crazy with all the fees being charged. Resort fees, baggage fees, upgrade fees, extra person fees, seat assignment fees, etc. The list goes on and on.
While I hope that these fees will end and get reigned in to something more reasonable, unfortunately, we are stuck with these fees for the foreseeable future. I can go on and on about the various fees which I detest but the one fee that truly gets me agitated is luggage fees with airlines.
There have been a lot of articles written about baggage fees and the airlines are having a great time charging for them. A recent article just came out that indicated that the US airlines have made over $1 BILLION in revenue from baggage fees alone.
Since I detest baggage fees, I am always trying to figure out the best way to avoid them all together. Luckily, there are some fairly easy ways to avoid them.
I have written about Southwest Airlines in the past, and they are a fantastic airline. They provide many benefits which most, if not all, of the other major carriers do not provide. One significant benefit is that they do not charge baggage fees for the 1st or 2nd bag. This is a tremendous perk and potentially the last airline that offers free baggage for any flyer.
Delta is a fairly good carrier. They have spent a lot of money and effort in making their in-flight experience better than the other carriers. I generally like Delta even though their frequent flyer program has significantly been devalued over time. Delta does not even publish award charts for their program so they are free to charge you any amount of miles they deem for redemption of skymiles.
Delta also charges baggage fees. They charge $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second bag. These are high and are very frustrating to me especially when I purchase an expensive ticket.
In order to avoid these fees, I carry the Gold Delta Skymiles Card from American Express.
This card does come with an annual fee of $95 but is waived the first year. For this annual fee, you will receive the first checked bag for free for up to eight passengers on the same itinerary.
While a lot of other cards claim to offer free checked baggage, the Delta cards are actually the best since you can book the flights from any travel agency, you do not need to pay for the flights with the actual card and it is valid on ANY Delta flights including international itineraries.
Additionally, as of today, they have increased their signup bonus to 70,000 miles for the Platinum card. This is one of the highest offers and definitely worth it for the free baggage fees and signup bonus.
American Airlines charges $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second bag. American also offers free baggage with their co-branded credit card. You can receive up to 4 free bags for all passengers traveling on the same itinerary. The various offerings are described below.
I currently hold the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Card but have been disappointed with it. The material item is that the first free checked bag is ONLY FOR DOMESTIC ITINERARIES.
A lot of my travel is done internationally so this card does not help alleviate those fees on international trips. I think that this is an issue so you need to know this before you move forward with obtaining this card.
However, if you normally fly domestic, this card can help with the annoying baggage fees on American Airlines.
United Airlines, like most of the other carriers, charges $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second bag. Again, like the other carriers, you can obtain the first bag for free for the primary card holder and one companion.
United's MileagePlus's Explorer Card is actually one of the most restrictive cards that offer free bags. While their free baggage policy is available for both domestic and international itineraries, you MUST PURCHASE THE TICKET WITH THE CARD TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR FREE BAGGAGE.
This is a very important issue that you must purchase the ticket with the specific card to be eligible. Many cards offer additional bonus points for airline purchases so it does not always make sense to book airline flights with the United Card. However, you need to do so if you want free baggage.
Obtaining credit cards can be a great way to avoid baggage fees. While all of the above cards do require an annual fee, it actually may make sense to get these cards solely for the free baggage benefit. There are plenty of other cards available that may make more sense for daily spend but the free baggage perks that these cards offer can provide a lot of value. It does not take too many trips for the annual fee to pay for itself.
Additionally, the baggage fees are just annoying and frustrating so getting them for "free", even with the annual fee, makes me feel better when traveling. We can also pack what we need without trying to fit everything into a carry on bag.
The Delta cards provides the most flexibility but the other cards can be useful provided that you understand the restrictions and requirements of their free baggage policy.
Make sure to subscribe below for additional information and to be informed on all timeshare and travel related deals!