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Excess baggage fares are a particularly frustrating experience for any traveller to face. It’s like someone decided that packing for your trip and trying to catch your flight on time somehow wasn’t stressful enough and so they needed to add more hassle with that dreaded “luggage weighing” which could then potentially pack an expensive excess baggage fine.

The thing is, I’m usually a light traveller… but not in the way you’d think. Yes, when I go to places like the US, I do pack a proper suitcase however, whenever I go traveller in Europe (nd indeed for the most part of my travel in Asia I usually go with just a backpack though that backpack is usually packed to the brim! If even the slightest bit of wind blows by when I’m carrying it, it would push me over from how heavy that bag is but still I get away with travelling everywhere, with all the stuff I need in backpacks, and somehow avoiding excess baggage fares so I’m gonna share a few tips to help you avoid those pesky charges:
1.) Be prepared to wear extra layers of clothes. Pack all the clothes you need in your backpack but if that person checking you in for your flight turns around and says anything about your bag being overweight and tries to charge you the excess baggage fare, simplly pop over to the bathroom and wear as many clothes as possible. As soon as you get on board, you can strip of course to your original outfit (which is much better than sweating into all 10 outfits you brought with you on the flight) but technically, no one can say anything about the fact that you just wore your extra clothes on you instead of having it in your luggage and more importantly – they can’t charge you the extra fare as your bag weight should be much more in line. It’s a great way to carry that heavy coat or leather jacket. (Alas, this does not work for shoes. I’m yet to find someone who can wear two pairs of shoes at the same time).
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2.) Use a backpack instead of a suitcase carry on. Airline staff always expect that backpacks are light (seeing as you’re not a camel, this is probably a reasonable assumption) however suitcase carry on luggage are seen as the containers where heavy items are packed in (hence why you needed something with wheels perhaps?).
The thing is, a small suitcase and a decent size backpack (and I mean just a regular one here) can pack pretty much the same amount of stuff. Suitcases are rigid and can waste a lot of space if you’re not travelling with just rectangular bricks that fit the suitcase exactly whereas backpacks are more flexible in nature and hence you can cram things a lot more effectively into backpacks. Best part is, pretty much every time, unless the airline person is just being pedantic – which they usually aren’t, backpack carriers never get hassled however lil’ ole Mr/Miss Suitcase will get asked to shove it into that baggage-size-checker thing to see if it meets the size restrictions before it then gets carted off to be weighed.
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3.) Stuff your pockets! Put heavy things into your pockets. This will reduce the weight in your luggage dramatically and again, once you get on the plane, you can stuff them back into your luggage. You might looks odd carrying your shoes in the pockets of your coat and trousers but you’d be legitimately within your rights to do so and avoid excess charges in the process. Good items for the pocket are perfumes, cameras, perhaps even your iPad (depending on your pocket size) and jars of nutella. Try not to judge me – I travelled with two huge jars of nutella once which I had to shove in my coat pocket once I was told my luggage was too heavy (oddly enough, despite knowing I had nutella in my suitcase, I was still surprised when I told that my luggage was to heavy). I was addicted to nutella back then and… Darn it, now I’ve remembered I want nutella! I thought I was over it! Excuse me while I go make myself a nutella crepe…
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4.) *licks lips* Darn, those nutella crepes were good! Threw some peanut butter into the mix and it was like a Reece’s Pieces filled crepe! Yummy! But you’re not here to hear about my weird food habbits, you’re here to save yourself money (and from a potentially embarrassing situation). So, the 4th thing you could do to avoid the excess baggage charges is just to buy the stuff you need at your destination. If you are going to binge on nutella like me, why risk paying the extra charge by buying it at home when you can get the exact same stuff in your destination. Whatever you can get when you’re away (within reason), you should definitely try to buy that at the destination itself instead of bringing it from home.
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5.) The easiest option of them all – Buy yourself a luggage scale (this one’s really great and costs just £14.99) and save yourself the hassle by checking if your luggage is overweight in advance. If your luggage is already overweight then you can start to plan your strategy before you get to the airport or take out the extra stuff you don’t need at home instead of having to deal with it at the airport. Simplessss!!! 🙂
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6.) Just pay the darn fee in advance. If you’re expecting that you will have 55kgs of luggage and your allowance is 10kg, just pay the darn fee and avoid unnecessarily awkward conversations at the airport. It’s soooo much cheaper to do it this way if having extra luggage is unavoidable. There’s being savvy and there’s taking the piss and expecting to cram 55kg into 10kg would probably be a prime example of the latter. 🙂
7.) Check in early. Airlines are more lenient with people who check in early with their luggage carrying some “extra weight” than they are with the check-in counters’ latecomers. There is probably a quota as to how much extra they can get away with without charging and you’re more likely to skip that excess fee if you arrive before that quota is all used up.
8.) Look at the baggage policy before you leave! Most airlines are pretty clear about their baggage policies and these policies vary from airline to airline e.g. Ryan air allows two pieces of hand luggage whereas Easyjet doesn’t. Not long ago, Ryan air allowed only one piece of luggage and even if your luggage was 0.00001kg over the allowance, they would charge you. Easyjet however is more lenient and would waive tiny variations but I digress, my point is check with the airline to see what your allowance is and try to plan accordingly.

And there you have it! Have you got any tips of you own you’d like to share or perhaps even flukes where you’ve managed to avoid excess baggage charges?

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