July 15, 2008

Excess Baggage Can Cost You

By Josh Newton, Tahlequah Daily Press, Okla.

Jul. 15--With more and more airlines charging fees for baggage, travelers are seeking ways to cram more into their suitcase and save some big bucks.

But be warned: Airlines are not only charging by the bag, but also for overweight and oversized luggage.

That's where the rolling technique comes in handy, according to leisure travel consultant Linda Spyres, of Vacations R Us. Rolling clothing instead of folding it is a good way to pack more in.

"One obvious thing is to put underwear, socks, belts and other little articles inside your shoes [in the bag]," said Spyres. "In fact, pack your underwear last, as they can be tucked into little spaces that you can fill!"

Travelers who will have the ability to do laundry at their destinations can take less clothing.

"I try to select complimentary colors or stay with one color family, like red and black, white and black, beige and brown, etc.," said Spyres. "That way, a person can mix and match and pack less."

Those traveling to a cold climate should wear their coats onto the plane, then remove them if necessary. Wearing the heaviest pair of shoes, and packing the lighter ones like flip-flops, also helps. Also, knowing how much a bag itself weighs before packing it helps keep it from being overweight.

"You can have two carry-ons and two checked bags [on most flights]," said Spyres. "For my carry-on, I usually have a backpack that I can put my purse in also, and a regular carry-on. Remember, the bigger the bag, the more apt you are to be overweight and have to pay big bucks!"

American Airlines, Northwest Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways have each incorporated a $15 fee for the first bag checked per person, and a $25 fee for the second bag checked. Continental and Delta each allow the first checked bag for free, but charge $25 for the second checked bag. Southwest still offers free service on the first and second bags checked, according to a chart provided by Spyres.

Almost all major airlines charge a fee for bags larger than 62 linear inches, most ranging from $100 to $150 per bag. Luggage weighing more than 50 pounds can also be subject to fees, from $25 to $150 per bag, depending on weight.

"Some people are opting to use the hotel toiletries rather than worrying about taking shampoo, body wash, etc., as those items do add to the weight," said Spyres.

Customers at Vacations R Us are made aware of the extra fees for baggage and encouraged to scale down what they bring.

"If they do take toiletries, we recommend buying the sample sizes, as they are smaller and will usually last a week," Spyres said.

(Travelers are becoming creative, too. Spyres once read an article suggesting travelers wear several layers of clothing onto the plane, then put them into a carry on once on the plane.)

Amanda Huffman, NSU graduate, is preparing for a mission trip to another country next week. When it's time to leave, any liquid she wants to take on the plane -- hand sanitizer, lotion, shampoo, etc., as a carry-on item -- must be in a 3-ounce or smaller bottle.

The 3-ounce bottles are to be gathered into one quart-size, clear, plastic Ziploc baggy for security purposes, Huffman said. This is part of the Transportation Security Administration's "3-1-1 for Carry-Ons" campaign: 3-ounce or smaller containers; one quart-size, clear, plastic Ziploc with the 3-ounce bottles inside; and one bag per traveler.

"You can take the full-size bottles, but they have to be packed in your [checked] luggage," said Huffman.

And liquids -- especially things like alcohol -- should be packed in their original containers. Otherwise, the TSA may make you pour out the fluids before checking the bags.

Prescription medications, baby formula and milk for those traveling with an infant or toddler are allowed for carry-on in quantities exceeding 3 ounces, and are not required to be in the clear baggy. These items, however, should be declared for inspection at the security checkpoints, and inspectors may make the traveler "sample" the substance.

Spyres suggests keeping jewelry, souvenirs, gifts and medications in their original bottles or packages, and in a carry-on, in case the luggage is delayed. Keep a packing checklist, and take eye-glass or contact-lens prescriptions just in case.

Learn more

For complete rules governed by individual airlines, including fees for regular check-in luggage and overweight or oversized baggage, visit the airlines' official Web sites: American Airlines, www.aa.com; Continental, www.continental.com; Delta, www.delta.com; Northwest Airlines, www.nwa.com; Southwest Airlines, www. southwest.com; United Airlines, www.united.com; or US Airways, www.USAirways. com. For more rules and tips from the Transportation Security Administration, visit the Web site www.tsa.gov/ travelers/index.shtm.


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