How to bag a savings on excess luggage
Corporate Traveller dishes the facts on excess luggage and how to avoid paying hefty charges on overweight baggage.
For some passengers, ‘travelling light’ may not be an option. If you have equipment, sports luggage or even an extra suitcase or two, you can expect to pay quite a bit for excess baggage charges. So what’s the best way to manage and trim this weighty expense? Firstly, let’s look at the parameters of excess baggage.
Excess baggage allowances vary dramatically from airline to airline. For international travel, most airlines will allow you to check in 20-23kg of luggage at no cost. Yet selected airlines will allow up to 30kg, or even two pieces of luggage up to 32kg each. Business and first class travellers also enjoy higher allowances, as do premium frequent flyers with certain airlines. At the other end of the scale, some low cost carriers have no allowance and you have to pay for every ounce of your checked luggage.
For businesses, it’s a good idea to assess the extra charges that apply with any airline you are considering as a preferred supplier. What you think are the lowest practical fares for your needs may in fact not be so low when you take excess baggage costs into consideration.
Why do the charges vary?
As with weight limitations, excess baggage charges vary greatly from airline to airline and unfortunately there’s no single rule of thumb. Amounts can be charged not only by airline, but also by the type of fare and the destination. As charges can sometimes be based on a percentage of the airfare, they may also vary from season to season. Excess baggage charges are ultimately made at the discretion of each individual airline. The key is to take this charge seriously, as costs can be hefty – upwards of thousands of dollars – if there is a large group of you.
Strategies to reduce excess baggage costs
There are a number of ways you can help avoid or at least reduce your excess baggage charges including:
Be savvy with your suppliers
When working with your travel manager to choose a preferred carrier, take their excess baggage charges into account as these can vary from airline to airline. Check the full range of benefits you receive in any airline membership you may have, as some airlines allow additional weight (and therefore cost savings!) as part of their membership. If you don’t already have airline membership, explore the options because loyalty to a particular airline can pay dividends in higher levels of membership and higher baggage allowances.
Get in early with groups
If you are booking travel for large groups or tours, let Corporate Traveller know as soon as possible if you think you will have excess baggage, so we can negotiate the costs directly with the airline. This usually costs more per kilogram or piece if paid at the airport, and negotiation often can’t be done at the last minute.
Weigh before you go
Weigh your packed luggage before you leave home or your hotel and if it’s over, get rid of any unnecessary excess.
Take fewer pieces of luggage
Determine whether your chosen airline uses the piece system (which is used mostly for travel to/from the US) rather than the weight system. For example, you may be allowed two pieces of luggage up to 23kg each, but if you check-in three pieces of only 5kg each, even though you’re under the weight allowance you may be charged for the additional piece.
Pre-pay if possible
If you can’t avoid having excess baggage, find out whether the airline will let you pre-pay the fee online. Paying online before you head to the airport is often much cheaper per kilo than it is at the airport. Make sure you take your pre-paid receipt with you to the airport.
Share the load
If you are travelling with one or two other people, checking-in together will allow you to share the total free allowance. So if the allowance for three people is 60kg and your combined checked luggage doesn’t exceed this, you should avoid a fee even if your own luggage is more than 20kg.
Pump up the volume
If your organisation has high volumes of travel with a particular airline, Corporate Traveller may be able to negotiate excess baggage waivers for your staff or team members. This however is more relevant for large groups rather than individual travellers, and waivers can’t always be guaranteed but they may be negotiable with our preferred airline partners.
Weigh up the freight options
If you have large amounts of luggage, equipment or other goods, investigating freight options may be cheaper than paying excess luggage rates with airlines. Your dedicated travel manager can give you advice and assistance in booking your unaccompanied luggage with a variety of reputable suppliers.
Speak to your travel manager for more information.