How to avoid luggage charges

These days, there's no such thing as a free ride. If you want to bring extra luggage on domestic or international flights, you'll have to pay for it. But there are steps that you can take to avoid having to pay extra luggage charges for your regular luggage. Here are some top tips.

Know the limits

Check your airline's website to find out the luggage allowance. The vast majority of international airlines will allow free checked and cabin baggage - but if you're flying with a budget carrier, or even a domestic carrier on domestic flights, you may need to buy a checked baggage allowance.

On international flights, the allowance in economy is usually one piece of checked luggage weighing up to 23kg. Hand luggage normally has a weight limit of 10kg. However, this can vary from airline to airline, and even from route to route, so it's important that you check for yourself.

Domestic allowances are usually around 15 to 20kg for checked luggage and 10kg for cabin luggage.

Buying a luggage allowance

If you have to buy a luggage allowance, be realistic about your needs. Don't just opt for the cheapest (and smallest) allowance, but at the same time don't purchase extra weight that you won't need. If you're unsure, try doing a "mock" pack and weighing your case. You could save up to £40 by buying the right allowance.

Ensure that you buy your luggage in advance, well ahead of your flight. Last minute luggage bookings (especially paying luggage charges at the airport) are often much more expensive.

Flying with more than one airline?

If you're flying with more than one airline, make sure that you've checked the baggage allowance for both. When there's a difference in allowance, the more restrictive rule applies.

Weigh your bag carefully before heading to the airport to avoid any nasty surprises or unexpected luggage charges. You can do this with a special baggage hook, or by holding your bag and standing on a pair of scales, then subtracting your weight from the total.

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