Some assume baggage fees don't apply to budget airlines. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, budget airlines have some of the most demanding fee structures in the industry.
The idea is to charge people the lowest possible fares for basic transportation. Part of that effort is making people pay for the services they use beyond advancing between two points on the globe.
Some charge simply for the privilege of checking baggage, and a few even impose charges for carry-on items.
What follows are brief policy summaries for leading low-cost carriers. Click the links to read each airline's policies. If your airline of choice is not listed here, go to the home page of its website, and look for a link to the site map. There you will find links for baggage fee information.
While every reasonable attempt is made to keep this information up-to-date, remember that airline policies and prices change quickly. Always click on the supplied links for more detailed information directly from the airlines.
Before considering any baggage fees, budget travelers should learn to pack lightly. It's a money-saving technique!
Air Berlin baggage fees are quite complicated. They vary by zones of travel and by the type of class selected (there are four). They allow only one carry-on item, and unless it's a laptop, it must not weigh more than 6 kg. (13 lbs.)
Economy class passengers on short- and medium-haul flights may check baggage weighing up to 20 kg. (44 lbs.) each, and business class passengers may check baggage weighing up to 30 kg. (66 lbs.) each; on long-haul flights, economy passengers may check one free bag up to 23 kg. (51 lbs.) and business class passengers may check up to two bags each weighing up to 32 kg. (71 lbs.)
Under the terms of Air Berlin's "Just Fly" class, a checked bag costs €15 when arranged online, but a whopping €70 when the arrangement is made at the airport. A free checked bag is included in the other three flight classes.
In terms of size, the sum of the height, length and width of each bag must not exceed 158 cm. (62 in.)
Air Berlin passengers who exceed the limit pay fees ranging from €100-€450.
Allegiant passengers are permitted to carry on one larger bag (that must fit in an overhead compartment) and one smaller bag that will fit under a seat. Checked bag fees vary by route selected, but generally are discounted if paid at time of online booking.
Take note of an Allegiant policy on baggage fees: the quotes relate to individual flying segments, with the word segment defined as one takeoff and one landing. So you will need to double the applicable baggage fee for a round-trip ticket and for any stopovers you might make during an Allegiant itinerary.
Bags that don't fit in an overhead compartment will incur the $35/segment fee, and remember that the online purchase the checked baggage service is non-refundable.
In 2012, Allegiant became the second budget airline (Spirit was the first) to charge for carry-on baggage. A small item that fits under the seat is still free, but an item (25 lbs. or less) in overhead compartments costs $10-$75 depending on route.
easyJet allows passenger one piece of carry-on baggage not to exceed 55x40x20cm. Any checked baggage will incur a fee.
Each passenger is given a baggage weight allowance of 20 kg. (44 lbs.) Paying the fee at time of booking can result in a half-price discount: €26 online vs. €52 at the airport. From a website notice about online payments: they are "much cheaper than paying at the airport, and much less hassle." Charges are made up to a maximum of 50 kg. (110 lbs.), with no single bag heavier than 32 kg. (71 lbs.)
Where checked-in hold baggage exceeds 20 kg., each passenger pays an excess baggage charge per kg. of £10 or €12. There is also a fee structure for larger sporting equipment such as skis or golf clubs.
As with many low-cost carriers, if you'll be checking baggage it is wise to make the arrangements and payments online rather than at the airport. The fees with easyJet are lower at check-in than at the gate.
Gol allows each adult passenger to check as many as two pieces of luggage weighing a total of 23 kg. (51 lbs.) without charge. For each kilogram above the limit, a fee is of five percent of the normal economy class fare is charged.
Gol policy dictates that baggage with excess weight can be treated as cargo -- this might mean it is shipped on a separate flight.
Budget travelers who would normally fly with only carry-on luggage will find significant weight restrictions. Of the two bags allowed in the cabin, the larger must weigh less than 5 kg. (11 lbs.) and a second item must be on the order of a purse, umbrella or camera bag.
According to their contract of carriage, jetBlue passengers are allowed one carry-on bag that must be stored in an overhead compartment.
The first checked bag is $20 online or at a kiosk, and $25 at the ticket counter. Each passenger's second checked bag requires a $35 fee; the third and fourth bag each incurs a $100 fee.
Overweight bag fees are $50 for bags between 51-70 lbs. and $100 for bags 71-99 lbs. Starting at 100 lbs., bags are ineligible for acceptance on the flight. Oversize cost for pieces with total dimensions between 62-79 in. is $100/item; anything in excess of 80 in. is $150.
Ryanair offers an extensive menu of baggage fees that can be paid in British pounds or euros. When you pay these fees will dictate just how much you pay.
The airline allows one carry-on bag weighing up to 10 kg. (22 lbs.) on each flight. Checked baggage charges vary depending upon when passengers choose to pay the fees.
For example, the baggage fee per passenger, per one-way flight in low season for the first bag is a flat £15 or €15 when arranged at time of booking on Ryanair.com, but £20 or €20 when arranged through the web site at a later time. The cost grows to £60 or €60 if arranged at the airport or through a call center.
These fees are much higher during busy periods such as June-September and late December-early January: £25 or €25 on Ryanair.com at time of reservation, £30 or €30 later on the web site and £100 or €100 at the airport.
Checked baggage weight per piece must not exceed 15 kg. (33 lbs.)
Obviously, the Ryanair baggage fee structure is complex. The best strategy is to pack lightly. But if you will have bags to check, be certain to take time and read all the restrictions carefully.
Southwest allows two free checked bags per customer -- in fact, it has been a key component of their marketing strategies. Many travelers are aware of this "bags fly free" policy.
But there are baggage fees at Southwest. Beginning with your third checked bag, you'll pay a charge of $75 per piece, one-way.
The maximum weight for baggage is 50 lbs. Overweight items from 51-100 lbs. and oversize items (62-80 in.) incur a charge of $50/item. Any item weighing more than 100 pounds must be shipped as air cargo, and that availability is limited.
Carry-on items for Southwest must not exceed 10"x16"x24" and the airline stipulates "all customers and employees and their items are subject to a thorough, physical search."
Spirit became the first airline to charge passengers for carry-on baggage. The airline allows one personal item at no cost, but it must fit under the seat in front of you. If you have a bag that will fit in the overhead bin, the cost is $40-$55 per bag, depending upon when and where you make the arrangements.
Spirit does not provide free checked baggage, and charges an online fee of $40-$50 USD for the first piece (with the higher prices for arrangements made at the airport); this charge goes to $50-$60 for the second checked bag and $95-$100 for the third and fourth checked bags.
Spirit does not guarantee it will sell passengers space for additional checked bags, so plan to bring those at your own risk.
A bag is overweight at 41 lbs. Overweight bags between 41-50 lbs. incur a cost of $100. Oversize fees regardless of weight: over 62 in. is $100 and over 80 in. is $150.
Travelers using the lowest-cost Saver fares get no baggage allowance and pay $12 AUD per flight at time of booking for up to 23 kg. At the airport, a $40 fee for up to 23 kg. will apply. (Note that flight segments through Skywest do not require this purchase.)
Each piece of baggage must not weigh more than 32 kg. (70 lbs.) and must not exceed a total linear dimension of 140 cm. (55 in.) when adding together depth, width and length. There is a $10 charge for each kilogram in excess of the limit.
Westjet allows one carry-on item (weighing up to 10 kg. or 22 lbs.) free of charge. One checked bag incurs a charge of $30, while a second bag is $42 CAD. Extra pieces beyond these amounts will cost incur a fee of $118 CAD/item.
A maximum of two excess pieces will be accepted on a space-available basis only per fare-paying guest. Overweight and oversize pieces are carried for a fee of $50. No piece in excess of 100 lbs. is accepted.
Excess baggage must be processed no later than one hour prior to the flight's departure.
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