Gone are the days when you could turn up for your flight, confidently check your bag in at the desk, and wander through security with as much hand luggage as you could carry. Since the advent of the budget airline, flight charging has become a complex affair, and the cost of baggage is at the top of most travellers’ frustrations.
I feel like I am an authority on this subject after being threatened with a £100 charge by a well-known ‘budget airline’. To be fair, my suitcase was 10kg over the weight allowance thanks to a large number of heavy Christmas presents. While I was on the verge of ditching said presents (it would have been cheaper buying them again at the other end of my journey), the lady from the airline took pity on me, pointed me towards a luggage shop where I could buy a small bag for £10, and then ‘bent the rules’ by putting the bag through without charging me. I was lucky - maybe because it was Christmas – but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be as fortunate again.
The trouble is that every airline seems to have a different policy when it comes to their baggage allowances. This affects the number of bags you can check in, the maximum weight of each bag, and also the number and size of bags you can take as hand luggage.
The best advice is to be aware, and be prepared. Here are our top tips to avoid being caught out:
- Check your airline’s hand baggage policy. Some airlines allow two carry-on bags, with no maximum weight restrictions (although remember the bag will have to adhere to a certain size restriction). This can be useful if you’re travelling with small, heavy items.
- Travel light! Admittedly this isn’t always possible, but challenge yourself when packing, even down to the book you’re taking. With Kindles and tablets you can store hundreds of books with no extra weight. You can always wear extra layers, or heavy clothes such as heavy coats and boots, rather than pack them. If you are staying in a hotel which supplies shower gel and shampoo then that could save some space too. Some even provide pool towels which can save even more room in your suitcase.
- Check your airline’s policy. All airlines publish their baggage allowances on their website, so always check before you fly. Here are links to the websites of the most popular UK airlines: Easyjet, British Airways, Ryanair, Flybe, Stobart Air & Logan Air, Aer Lingus
- Know what you paid for. Many airlines provide baggage allowance as an ‘add-on’ when you book your flight. Check your booking to make sure you did actually include checked-in bags when you booked.
- Weigh your cases before you leave for the airport. Stand on the scales without your bag, then stand on the scales while holding your bag. The difference in weight is the weight of your bag.
While we’re on the subject of baggage, make sure you also check your travel insurance policy before you go. Many policies have a cap on how much you can claim, so think twice before packing that expensive necklace. If your bag is lost or stolen, you should report it to the police within 24 hours, otherwise your insurer may not pay out. And if your bag is damaged in transit, you must report it to the airline before you leave the terminal. For more information, visit PayingTooMuch.com