Excess Luggage
How Not To Pay Fees

It seems foolish to spend money on fees for checking excess luggage, when it's more fun - and certainly adds more to your overseas trip - to spend that same money on sights, day tours, museums, local foods, or just getting around, when you're traveling in Europe.

With the huge revenue streams airlines are capturing from all sorts of luggage-type fees, it’s unlikely airline baggage restrictions are going away.

But there are steps you can take to help streamline your luggage – and what you put in it – to prevent hav-ing to pay more of your valuable travel dollars to the airlines in the form of excess luggage fees.

Gone are the days you could carry half of your wardrobe, along with every single thing you could think of that you might need on your trip.

Today, the overwhelming number one thing to consider when packing for Europe, or any overseas destination, is how to pack light.

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Before purchasing luggage for your trip, carefully consider not only what you're  packing, but where you’re going and how you’ll be traveling.

On a tour?  In a group?  On your own?

On trains and busses?  In your own rental car? 

Using local transportation to cover small distances?  

Moving frequently?   Daily?  Or staying in one place?

Will you store your luggage, while visiting locally on foot?

Or will your luggage stay with you, no matter where you go or how you get there?  

Almost every travel scenario dictates you choose lightweight travel luggage filled with only the most necessary items for your trip.

This alone should keep you from exceeding airline luggage restrictions and having to pay the punitive fees airlines impose for traveling with excess luggage.

Is your Luggage Legal?

Choosing the design of your international travel luggage should be given your full attention.  Even the weight of the bag, itself, should be considered. 

Airline fees for excess luggage begin at anything over 50 lbs.

So, if your packed bag weighs more than that - and you’re flying Coach - you’ll pay fees to the airline for taking too much stuff.

If you check a 2nd bag – and you’re flying Coach – you’ll pay fees to the airlines for taking too much stuff.

If you check a bag plus carry on a bag, and the combined size or weight of your bags is more than the airline's luggage restrictions, you’ll pay excess luggage fees for taking too much stuff.

In order to have a fighting chance for staying within airline luggage allowances, your travel luggage must become a simple utilitarian tool.

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Forget hard luggage. If your hard sided luggage weighs 14 pounds empty, you’ve just reduced your available 'packing weight' to less than 36 pounds.

And severely limited the amount you can pack for your trip.

Instead, choose quality luggage that’s durable, made with flexible construction, is lightweight, and rectangular in shape.

Choose a bag with square [not rounded] corners, which will increase useable interior space.

Your bag's exterior should be sturdy enough to hold up to the rigors of travel.

If fabric, it should be strong, with seams inside and out, securely stitched.

Outside pockets [great for holding incidentals] should be well-integrated into the design of the bag without protruding.

This will prevent them from being easily ripped off, or adding to overall luggage dimensions.

All pulls, handles, zippers, latches, straps, and wheels should be well made of strong materials. They should work easily and be securely attached.

But the single most important concern for your luggage, your trip, and your overseas travel budget is to make sure neither the weight or dimension of your checked luggage, your carry on luggage, or a combination of both, will result in the airlines charging you fees for excess luggage.

6 Ways To Prevent Excess Luggage Fees

All things don’t work for all travelers.  But using several of the following tips to reduce the size and weight of your luggage can help insure the money for your overseas trip goes toward making it more fun, rather than into airline coffers.

  • 1. Refrain from using expensive, brand name luggage, especially if you plan to check it. High-end luggage designs and leather travel bags are usually heavier than their more moderate counterparts. They’re also a beacon for theft. [This includes knock-offs and look-a-likes.] Anything that looks expensive screams there's expensive stuff inside.
  • 2. Purchase the right-size bag for the amount of packed items you plan to take. Your luggage should comfortably hold all your travel items, with zippers or latches able to close without forcing or bulging. The best travel luggage should be sized to allow your gear to fit firmly inside without shifting or sliding. Challenge yourself to use luggage that forces you to be thoughtful and selective about what you take with you.
  • 3. Internal pockets and compartments – including recesses for handles and wheels - reduce internal packing space of wheeled travel luggage. Look for rolling travel luggage with handle and wheel mechanisms that use a combination of external and internal mountings and attachments. This will increase your internal packing space without endangering the mechanisms and maneuverability of the bag.
  • 4. Some form of lightweight expandable luggage should be at the top of your wish list. As long as you keep the weight of your luggage under control, having some extra room for your return flight is good for gifts, souvenirs, and the stuff that 'grew' while you were traveling. Make sure any 'expandable size' remains within acceptable airline luggage restrictions for all airlines you travel.
  • 5. Know that when airlines state the luggage size dimensions they will accept, it means the size of your bag cannot exceed that amount. You must measure and add together the length, width, and height of your bag to determine its total dimension. Any travel luggage measuring more than the airline’s stated allowable size will be charged a fee as excess luggage. When you purchase luggage, never take labeled measurements for granted. Measure the bag yourself to be sure it's in compliance.
  • 6. Weigh your bag at home, after you’ve packed. Do a 'trial run' of what you plan to pack, to see if you are within airline luggage restrictions before time to travel. If it’s more than 50 lbs., you've got work to do.  Pare down and remove unnecessary items. If you absolutely must take something that causes your bag to be too heavy, wear it, or put it in your carry on travel luggage. It’s easier to pull out extras and reorganize at home, than at airport check-in.

Excess Luggage Costs More Than Money

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Not only does luggage that flies as excess luggage cost unnecessary funds from your travel budget, it’s often carried by airlines on a 'space available' basis.

This means whatever luggage you checked may not travel on the same flight you do, and it may not arrive at your destination when you arrive.

On international flights, your luggage may arrive at your destination a day, or even two, following your arrival.

This could impact your travel plans, if you’re headed out on an escorted trip, a group tour, or other time-sensitive itinerary.

The hassle of retrieving missing or late lug-gage is not the best use of your travel time, nor is it what you want to do, when you’ve just arrived at your overseas destination.

If you're not able to eliminate enough of your travel stuff and simply must take an oversized, overweight, additional bag, then pay excess luggage fees online before leaving for the airport.

You’ll still have to pay....

But you may save enough for lunch!

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 will test even a savvy seasoned traveler.

Rethinking Checked Luggage: How to balance what you pack with airline baggage restrictions on overseas flights.

The Carry On Travel Luggage Dilemma: Use the correct carry on bag for freedom and flexibility on your overseas trip.

Is Your International Carry On Bag Legal? Follow airline carry on bag requirements for hassle-free boarding.

Return to International Travel Luggage

Travel Tip

To save money, travelers often book their 'over the water' ticket separately from intra-Europe or beyond-Europe flights. Formerly, you could take advantage of cheaper rates on regional European airlines and substantially lower your overall ticket price.

Today, with the severity of Euro-airline luggage restrictions and the stiff fees they charge for 'over-limit' luggage, it’s possible to wind up paying more to check your luggage on these airlines, than you save on the cost of separate tickets.

Buyer Beware!

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