Money Analysed

Minimizing Airline Fees: How to Avoid Unexpected Luggage Costs

Introduction to Airline Fees

The excitement of booking a flight can quickly be dampened by the realization that the cost of travel involves more than just the ticket price. Airlines have been known to charge extra fees for a wide range of items, from specialized sporting equipment to live animals.

These added costs can add up and significantly impact your travel budget. In this article, well outline the various items that incur added fees when traveling and provide information on how to minimize these costs.

Items that Incur Added Fees

Most airlines charge additional fees for items that go beyond a standard baggage allowance. The standard baggage allowance for most airlines includes one carry-on item and one checked bag per person.

However, if your luggage exceeds the size and weight limit or youre traveling with additional items, you can expect to pay added fees. Here are the items that incur added fees:


Traveling with musical equipment, such as guitars and drums, can be challenging due to their size and potential damage. Additionally, airlines may require you to purchase an extra seat for your instrument.

Expect to pay anywhere from $50 to a few hundred dollars depending on the airline and the size of the instrument.


If youre an avid hunter or have taxidermy mounts at home, its important to note that airlines classify antlers and mounted animals as checked items. These items require special packing rules to ensure their safe transport.

Most airlines allow antlers as checked items, with a flat fee of $150 to $200, depending on the airline.


Bicycles are considered specialized sporting goods, and their size requires special handling. Typically, bicycles must be disassembled and packed in a specially designed box.

Some airlines charge a flat fee for bicycles, while others charge based on the size of the box. Southwest Airlines charges a flat fee of $75 per bicycle.

Scuba Gear

Scuba diving gear, including oxygen tanks and dive bags, incur additional fees. These items can be checked, but its important to check with your airline to ensure that you have proper packaging and labeling.

Fees for dive gear vary by airline, so its essential to read the specific guidelines for your airline beforehand.

Windsurfing Gear

Windsurfing gear is considered an oversized item with added charges. JetBlue Airlines charges $100 each way for windsurfing gear, while United charges $150 each way.

Hang Gliders

Hang gliding gear is similar to windsurfing gear in terms of size and added fees. Most airlines require hang gliders to be disassembled and packed in a specific bag to avoid damage in transit.

They typically incur an extra fee, but the cost varies depending on the airline.


Javelins are considered throwing items and are subject to size and weight restrictions. Most airlines have a specific size threshold for sporting equipment, and any item exceeding this threshold will incur an extra fee.

Southwest Airlines, for example, charges an extra fee for items that exceed 50 pounds.

Dry Ice

Dry ice is commonly used to keep frozen items cold in transit, but it requires special handling. Airlines allow dry ice in both checked and carry-on bags, but theres an added fee due to the amount of paperwork, labeling, and safety precautions necessary.

The charge varies according to the airline.

Media Gear

Traveling with photography or filming equipment can also incur additional fees due to the weight and size of the equipment. Airlines charge an extra fee for any piece of equipment that exceeds the maximum weight or size restrictions.

Media gear typically incurs a flat fee, but the cost varies depending on the airline.

Live Animals

Traveling with a pet can be an added expense, as most airlines require an extra fee for animals. Frontier Airlines, for instance, charges passengers up to $100 each way for a pet.

Additionally, passengers must follow specific guidelines when traveling with pets to ensure the safety and well-being of the animal. Conclusion:

Airline fees can quickly add up to an unexpected expense.

By understanding which items will attract added fees, passengers can better prepare for the cost of travel. Its important to keep in mind that every airline has different guidelines, rules, and fees for traveling with additional items, so its essential to do your research beforehand.

By reading the specific guidelines for your airline, you can avoid any surprises and budget accordingly.

General Guidelines for Luggage Fees

When it comes to luggage fees, there are numerous guidelines that one needs to navigate through. In this section, we take a closer look at overweight or oversized luggage, variances among airlines, and splitting luggage loads.

Overweight or Oversized Luggage

Most airlines charge extra fees for overweight and oversized luggage. For instance, if your checked luggage exceeds the maximum weight limit, you will incur the added fee.

Typically, the maximum weight limit ranges between 40 and 60 pounds for checked luggage. In addition to weight, airlines also have specific dimension limits for checked and carry-on luggage.

The maximum dimensions for carry-on luggage vary between airlines, but in most cases, the dimensions must not exceed 22 x 14 x 9. For checked luggage, the maximum dimensions are usually between 62 and 80 combined.

Its crucial to note that dimensions and weight restrictions apply differently for each airline. Therefore, its imperative to check each airlines guidelines before packing your bags.

Variances among Airlines

As mentioned earlier, there are differences in the dimensions and weights approved by each airline. Regulations may also vary widely depending on whether the luggage is to be checked or carried, international or domestic flights, and the passenger’s carrier class.

For instance, Delta Airlines carry-on luggage must not exceed 22 x 14 x 9, while United Airlines carry-on luggage must not exceed 22″ x 14″ x 9″ and the first checked bag must not exceed 62 linear inches. At the same time, the second checked bag of the same airline should not exceed 115 linear inches.

Understanding these differences can help you avoid excess baggage fees.

Splitting Luggage Load

A practical way to avoid additional luggage fees is to split your luggage load. Instead of packing everything in one super-sized suitcase, consider using smaller bags.

You can use a carry-on bag for essentials, and check in one or two bags with clothes and other items. However, bear in mind that this may not be viable for each passenger in some situations, such as when traveling with family or purchasing gifts or souvenirs overseas.

Nevertheless, if it is possible, distributing luggage loads between individuals may help cut extra fees that your luggage would have attracted if everything was packed in one bag.

Conclusion and Reminder

When traveling, its easy to get caught up in the excitement of the journey and forget about the added fees associated with air travel. As weve seen, specific items attract additional fees, and overweight or oversized luggage can incur hefty charges.

Its essential to read up and understand the fees before travel. Be check specific guidelines and policies each airline has for luggage items, weights, dimensions, and approved number of bags.

Overlooking information about these added fees can come at its own cost, prompting unexpected and sometimes expensive surprises. In summary, awareness of airline fees is crucial, and it is worth taking the time to research and find ways to minimize these expenses.

So, read up on additional fees, and plan accordingly for your upcoming trip to avoid any luggage-related surprises. Airline fees for luggage can be a surprise and add up quickly, especially if you’re traveling with an item that incurs added charges.

These items range from musical instruments to live animals, and it is important to check each airline’s guidelines before packing their bags. Moreover, airlines have different dimensions and weight limits for carry-on and checked luggage, and excessively overweight or oversized luggage can incur hefty fees.

Splitting luggage can help minimize costs. In short, awareness of airline fees is crucial to avoid unexpected or expensive surprises, so it’s essential to read up on additional fees and plan accordingly for your upcoming trips.

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