- Often, the scales at the airport are not calibrated correctly. Purchase an electronic hanging scale for around $20 (e.g. American Weigh Scale American Weigh H-110 Digital Hanging Scale) and weigh-in at home. This way, you’ll leave home knowing what your bag weighs and you may be able to avoid extra fees.
- Pack special items to evade extra fees. Cyclists have been doing this for years – packing their bicycle frame in one unmarked box and putting the wheels in another, then sending it all through the scanners. Airlines like to charge excessive fees for sporting equipment, so pack it so it’s not obvious. If you can pack the equipment in a normal-looking bag without fear of it being damaged, even better.
- Spread out the load by packing heavier items in different bags to avoid excessive weight charges.
- Use the free options with abandon. Strollers, car seats, and certain medical equipment flies free. If you put the car seat in an overlarge duffel (for easier carrying, of course), you can usually pack other items in with it without attracting notice.
You can also check into the luggage shipping services offered by UPS and other pack-and-ship service providers.
At last resort? Try an upgrade. First-class passengers rarely pay bag fees, and if you can upgrade for a decent price, you’ll also be more comfortable. Just make sure the airline offers free baggage checking with the upgrade.