Who would have thought a few years ago that checked luggage on an overseas flight would be the cause for so much angst and stress?
If you’re planning a trip overseas and you haven’t yet thought about whether or not you’ll be checking luggage, there's work to do and decisions to make.
And, if it's been a while since you traveled to Europe, you may be surprised at the changes in airline baggage restrictions and the many lengths domestic, international, and intra-European airlines are going to, to add to their bottom lines.
Most airlines, both domestic and international, have imposed restrictions on luggage size - and weight - for all checked luggage they allow you to take with you on your flight.
No longer can you afford to leave the choice of your international travel luggage as a last minute decision.
Along with planning and packing for travel, choosing whether or not your bags will go as checked luggage or you'll carry them on board with you, requires thoughtful planning and a determined approach.
With airline luggage allowances for most U.S. and European carriers now carefully regulated and tightly restricted, everything you previously thought you knew about traveling with luggage and packing luggage for overseas travel has changed dramatically.
For the worse!
The most lucrative fees now being imposed by airlines are fees they charge for checked luggage, along with the punitive charges they levy on any passenger bags they deem excessive, oversized, or overweight.
It’s important to know your specific airline's luggage allowance when choosing and shopping for travel luggage for your trip.
All airlines post detailed luggage restrictions and regulations on their websites.
In order to prevent having to pay excess luggage charges, you should read this information for each airline you plan to fly on your overseas trip.
And be aware: the information posted is not just a guide. The numbers are real, and the airlines stick to them.
Fees generated by airline luggage regulations are proving to be a significant in-come stream for airlines around the globe, as well as their way back to financial stability.
The larger and heavier your checked travel luggage is, the more it will cost you to get it to your destination.
And you’ll still have to schlep it around on your trip!
As opposed to U.S. domestic airlines, most of which now charge you from the first checked bag, the majority of overseas airlines allow you one piece of checked luggage at no cost, when you fly in Economy Class.
This also includes U.S. carriers that fly international and overseas routes.
For Premium Economy, Business Class, First Class, or any other upgraded section closer to the front of the plane, the number of free bags increases to one or two additional free checked bags per traveler.
It all depends on which airline you fly and where you sit on the plane [ie., the price you pay for your ticket!]
But that does not mean there are no weight or size restrictions for what you carry with you.
In order to reduce fuel consumption in recent years, airlines have sought ways to reduce weight and conserve fuel, hoping to stem the red ink they consistently bleed.
By imposing restrictions on size, weight, and the number of checked bags, they limit the amount you can take for free on your international flight. This allows them more room in their bellies for paying cargo.
Should you choose to exceed the airline's luggage restrictions for either weight or size, they impose punitive fees on any over-the-limit checked luggage to make up for lost cargo revenue.
If you’re flying in Economy Class, as most travelers do, you’ll pay fees for any excess baggage [extra bags] for anything above and beyond that first free checked bag.
Fees can range from just under $50 US for checking a second bag online, to as much as $150 US for checking a third bag, when you check it at the airport.
If any of your checked bags are overweight [usually 50–70 lbs], regardless of whether they’re 'free' checked bags or not, you’ll pay a minimum fee of $50 US per bag, and possibly much more.
And, if your bags weigh more than 70 lbs., European airlines may not allow you to take them at all!
All airline baggage fees are assessed one way, so you pay both coming and going.
And if you have connecting flights either stateside or in Europe, you’ll pay the fees for each flight segment you travel.
If you plan to fly intra-European flights while traveling in Europe, the rules for travel luggage become even more complex.
Size and weight restrictions and limitations vary by individual airline.
Check with each individual air carrier you plan to fly to see how their specific airline baggage restrictions for checked luggage - and even carry on luggage - will affect what you take to Europe and how you pack.
And since Europe and much of the world uses metric values, you need to under-stand basic equivalent conversion rates for both pounds vs. kilograms and inches vs. centimeters.
This will help ensure you keep your luggage weight and dimensions in check and in compliance.
For more details on airline luggage weight and size restrictions for domestic and international airlines, plus allowable linear dimensions, luggage weight, and tips for packing:
Carry On Luggage – More Rules, More Restrictions to test even a savvy seasoned traveler.
The Carry On Travel Luggage Dilemma: Use the correct carry on bag for freedom and flexibility on your overseas trip.
Excess Luggage – How The Airlines Take Your Money: Learn how to choose luggage that meets or beats airline luggage restrictions.
Is Your International Carry On Bag Legal? Follow airline carry on bag requirements for hassle-free boarding.
Return to International Travel Luggage
Generally speaking, for travel between the U.S. and Europe, a single luggage piece weighing over 50 lbs. can incur an excess baggage fee of $50 - $150 US per bag, depending on the airline. If luggage weighing more than 70 lbs. is allowed, the fee can go as high as $350 US.
If the dimension of your checked baggage totals more than 62 inches, the excess fee per bag will range between $100 - $300 US. Many European carriers don't allow checked luggage that exceeds 62 inches, and some have different - but very specific - dimensions to determine oversized bags.
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