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Sneaky Ways to Bypass Airline Baggage Fees

Airlines have made a big business out of incidental fees—and at the top of that list are checked baggage fees that can add up to $60 to the cost of your ticket. The good news is: there are ways to get around it—read on to find out how.

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airplanePhanuwat Nandee/Shutterstock

Be loyal to an airline

If you fly often, try to fly the same airline as much as possible and join its frequent flyer program. Almost all major airlines offer discounts on checked baggage or waive the fee altogether for their mid- and top-tier frequent flyer program members. Listen up, frequent flyers: You won’t want to miss this handy chart on airline baggage rules.

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Woman packing for vacation travel trying to close full suitcaseArturs Budkevics/Shutterstock

Spring for an upgraded fare

At first, the price that comes along with an upgraded fare may seem unreasonable, until you factor in that the more expensive seat may come with a complimentary checked bag. On JetBlue for instance, purchase a base Blue seat and you have to pay for your checked bag; but a Blue Plus fare, which only costs $15 more, comes with a free checked bag.

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Use an airline rewards credit card

Buy your plane ticket with a co-branded airline credit card and you’ll get a range of perks, including a waived baggage fee. The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card takes it one step further—not only do you get your first bag checked for free, so do six additional traveling companions. Find out the other travel point perks you didn’t know existed.

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Smiling female concierge returning the documents to hotel guest after check-in process. Female client receiving her documents at hotel reception desk after check-in.Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

Sign up for a premium travel credit card

If you’re not a frequent flyer, but want to reap the benefits of traveling periodically, consider signing up for a premium travel credit card. The Amex Platinum, for example, allows you to earn five points per dollar on all airline and hotel purchases. (Points can be transferred to frequent flyer programs.) For your $500 annual fee, you’ll also get complimentary airport lounge access at The Centurion, Priority Pass and Delta SkyClubs and receive an annual $200 air travel credit that will reimburse you for baggage fees and in-flight purchases on one airline.

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Sneaky Ways to Bypass Airline Baggage Feesstock_photo_world/Shutterstock

Fly Southwest Airlines

Not all budget airlines are created equal. While some of the cheapest airlines trick you with exorbitant hidden fees (like charging 50 percent more for paying for a checked bag at the airport as opposed to days in advance online), Southwest Airlines is relatively transparent. The airline lets you check two bags for free on every flight.

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Close-up back view of legs of enamored businesswoman and businessman are going along airport lounge. They are holding hands while carrying their suitcases to departure areaOlena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock

Travel with a card holder

If you’re not interested in a travel credit card, find someone who is. If you fly American and have a friend who holds the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, for example, both of you (plus two other friends) will get your first bag checked for free. (The only catch is that you have to be on the same reservation.) A Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card lets you check your first bag free on all flights— plus the first bag for up to eight other travelers on the same reservation.

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Packaging Tape Gun Dispenser Isolated Over Whitegresei/Shutterstock

Consider shipping your baggage

Depending on your suitcase size and the weight, sometimes shipping a suitcase is less expensive than paying the baggage fees on an airline. Check out the comparison of shipping rates and baggage fees posted at Next, find out the 9 signs you’re paying too much for airfare.

Alexa Erickson
Alexa is an experienced lifestyle and news writer currently working with Reader's Digest, Shape Magazine, and various other publications. She loves writing about her travels, health, wellness, home decor, food and drink, fashion, beauty, and scientific news. Follow her travel adventures on Instagram: @living_by_lex, send her a message: [email protected], and check out her website: