Bigger luggage is not always better

March 22, 2011 7:06:08 PM PDT
The fees airline's charge for early check-in or extra legroom may be annoying, but it is luggage charges where you can really get hurt. Packing for a trip has always been a hassle, but now you must be strategic. When it comes to luggage, bigger is not better.

"It can be $25 for the bag plus $150 for the size, plus $50 for the weight, each way," Travel attorney Al Anolik said.

A few inches or few pounds can really cost you. consumers struggling with weight issues can reshuffle their luggage or layer clothes. But if you pick a bag that's too big, there's not much to be done once at the airport.

"They don't tell you what they measure, that's the key" Anolik said.

Most airlines allow bags with a combined height, width and thickness of 62 inches. But your 62 inches and their 62 inches are different. Airlines don't measure just the clothing compartment, they measure everything.

"So you are measuring another maybe three inches here and here on top -you can collapse the handle, they don't pull it up, but it's another half or three quarters of an inch, so it's from there to here," said.

With many bags, that will put you over the limit.

"It's gotten worse and worse over the years. You used to be able to finagle your way on and not pay for baggage," said.

Not any more, Ted Winn even got dinged twice. He thought as long as he'd be paying an oversized fee to bring his surf board he'd pack a couple other items.

"I got hit with a heavy bag because I have a couple wet suits in there too, so they hit me with another $60 so it is $210 one way," he said.

Next time he'll bring a carry-on, avoiding the overweight charge.

Luggage stores are now deeply discounting the bigger pieces because they know how expensive they are to own. Consumers not paying attention end up investing in a bag will cost them more each time they travel.

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