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Excess baggage fees: How to avoid extra charges at the airport

Times are tough for travellers, and excess baggage fees can really put a dampener on your long-awaited break. With the world preparing to reopen in 2021, we're here to keep you dreaming and planning for your next adventure - whether that's a staycation or flying off to parts unknown. Until then, we've got the latest COVID-19 travel advice and updates to keep you up to date and ready to go.

COVID-19 hasn’t just made it hard to get away: it’s also made it more expensive. Border restrictions mean that there are lots of extra charges that simply didn’t exist in 2019. For example, you need to pay for at least two private PCR tests if you’re travelling from a green list country, and shell out for a stay in a quarantine hotel if your destination ends up on the red list. When you add unexpected baggage fees into the mix, the cost of your holiday can start to soar.

Tip the scale in your favour by reading our guide to excess baggage fees from all the major European airlines, as well as advice on avoiding extra charges for your checked luggage.

Remember, the pandemic is still ongoing and restrictions change frequently. Always check the government’s travel advice for the country you’re visiting, and read up on local COVID rules too.

Excess baggage fees by airline

AirlineExcess baggage charge
Aer Lingus€10 per kilo, €75 per bag on long haul flights
Air FranceFee varies depending on route: usually €75-€250 per bag
British Airways£65 per bag
Delta$100-$200 per bag depending on weight, size, number of pieces and route
easyJet£12 per kg
Emirates$15-$50 per kg, depending on route
Etihad Airways$40-$60 per bag
Jet2£12 per kg
KLM€25-€240 depending on route
Lufthansa€40-€300 depending on route
Norwegian£12 per kg, per leg
Qatar Airways$40-$85 per kg
Ryanair£11 per kg
TUI£13-£18 per kg
Turkish AirlinesFee varies depending on route: usually €4-€32 per kg
Virgin Atlantic£65 if overweight, £200 if oversized
Vueling Airlines€12 per kg
Wizz Air€11 per kg

Note:

Oversize or overweight baggage may be classed as cargo and subject to further fees if exceeding airline max weight restrictions. Fees vary according to route and/or destination.

How to avoid excess baggage fees

Thankfully, there are many ways to keep baggage costs down (and no, they don’t involve wearing all of your clothes at once to save on packing space). From pooling with a pal to busting out the scales in advance of your flight, here are our top 5 tips for avoiding excess baggage charges:

  1. Pay for additional weight in advance
  2. Weigh as you go
  3. Pool baggage with a travel buddy
  4. Use lightweight luggage
  5. Maximise your hand luggage allowance

1. Pay for additional weight in advance

Woman using laptop computer at airport terminal sitting with luggage suitcase and backpack. You can avoid excess baggage fees by pre-booking extra weight online.

It’s nearly always cheaper to book extra hold luggage in advance rather than paying excess baggage fees at the airport. Airlines know that keeping within weight/size limits is not always possible, so they encourage you to plan ahead by selling extra weight online. Sometimes they offer up to 50% off what you would pay on departure. You can either buy by the kilo or per piece when you book your flight. Some offer the option to add it on to your ticket right up until the day you fly. Budget airlines like Ryanair and easyJet charge £11-£12 per kilo on the day, so it’s worth admitting you’re not a light packer upfront, to avoid heavy charges later on.

2. Weigh as you go

Man weighing a red suitcase with a yellow luggage scale, an easy way to avoid excess baggage fees.

Beat airline baggage fees by weighing as you pack, and you’ll have no nasty surprises at the airport. If your wheelie is looking decidedly stuffed the night before you travel, you could save yourself a pretty penny by double-checking the weight while you’ve still got time to take out your just-in-case layers and extra pair of shoes. Balancing a suitcase on bathroom scales can be tricky, but portable luggage scales are fairly cheap and easy to come by – and this way, you can pack your very own weight monitor for the return journey, too.

Need help squeezing everything into your luggage? Check out our top packing tips for advice.

3. Pool baggage with a travel buddy

Two young men at an airport. One is wearing his rucksack while the other has his bag on the floor and is searching through it.

If your overweight baggage doesn’t make it past the check-in desk, you can avoid excess baggage fees by collaborating with your partner/best friend/mum to spread the weight across your checked luggage. Ask the airline staff to weigh your bags together, and you might not even have to swap any of your stuff. If they’re being picky, just pop to the nearest bathroom to even out your loads. Planning ahead? Airlines like Emirates let you buy baggage by overall weight, rather than by piece. For example, one passenger could buy 40kg worth of baggage but spread it across two separate bags. It doesn’t matter if one is heavier or belongs to another passenger, so long as they don’t exceed the overall total weight limit.

4. Use lightweight luggage

Young woman with backpack on travelator on international airport terminal. Cabin crew member with suitcase.Travel Concept.

When it comes to excess weight, your travel bags might be the culprit rather than your spare swimsuit. Older suitcases often have heavy frames which make a big dent in your total allowance. For example the average medium-sized suitcase weighs 4.1kg, while a lightweight model can weigh as little as 2.2kg. Upgrading to a lighter case, or swapping your old hard-shell for a canvas backpack, could give you a couple of precious extra kilos to play with.

5. Maximise your hand luggage allowance

Person packing clothes, camera, passport, hat and headphones into a small hardshell suitcase.

Another cunning way to avoid excess baggage fees is to make the most of your hand luggage allowance. Premium airlines like British Airways often allow you to bring two items on board, while budget airlines offer the ability to upgrade your in-cabin allowance to a larger bag that sits in the overhead locker. For example, if you upgrade your seat with easyJet you can bring a bag measuring 56 x 45 x 25cm on board with you. This could be a handy way to bring extra items along, without compromising on weight. Just remember to leave liquids, sharps, tools and bats in your hold luggage or you may have them confiscated at security.

Our rundown of hand baggage sizes and weight restrictions will help you work out who has the most – and least – generous policies.

Information correct as of 25th June 2021. Please always check the latest guidance before booking a trip.

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