When Excess Baggage Fees Exceed the Cost of the Ticket

Over on the Fodor’s forums, philip_in_zuri shared a story about an experience on Swiss Air in which he ended up paying ~$900 extra because his luggage was overweight by 10 kilos:

Swiss Air insisted in charging me their full international rate of 89 Swiss francs (about $89 US at current exchange rates) per kilo for the entire flight…


Because time was short and I was joining a tour and could not be delayed, I unfortunately had to pay the full $899.

This is an extreme case to be sure, and there is more to it, which you will need to click through to the thread to read about. But still, it got me to thinking…

If I were faced with a similar circumstance, being the skinflint I am, how would I prioritize the elimination of excess weight from my checked luggage?

Could I survive a couple of weeks with just a couple of pairs of undies? Probably, but how much do undies really weigh anyway. Getting rid of some of them probably wouldn’t be worth the trouble.

Socks, other than a couple of pairs, could go. Extra shoes would be out too for that matter (assuming this isn’t a business trip and the shoes have been well worn and I have gotten my money’s worth from them).

Still overweight? A reduction in shirts and pants would likely be my next step. Again, these items aren’t all that heavy, but I can get by with fewer and they aren’t very expensive to replace, so they are the low-hanging fruit.

But what if you get through all of the low-hanging fruit and you’re still over the limit? Would you pay $90 to carry a hair dryer? A curling iron? That box of specialty chocolates you just paid $40 for in the terminal at the fancy specialty chocolate store?

Or do you just pay the excess baggage fee with the idea that you’ll fight it out with the airline and/or credit card company later and take the risk? If you decide to go this route though, pay heed to the wise words of travelgourmet:

When flying European airlines, you must be very careful about weight limits, as the overage charges are obscenely expensive and they tend to be quite strict in their interpretations of the limits. Sorry you got burned, but I don’t hold out much hope of a refund

Oh, and remember, you are figuring all of this out while standing at the front of a very long line of fellow travelers who are becoming increasingly annoyed.

Read the thread in its entirety: Swiss charges exorbitant excess baggage fees, ignores complaints

“UDrop bagdrop kiosk” by Darthvadrouw – ipod. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:UDrop_bagdrop_kiosk.jpg#mediaviewer/File:UDrop_bagdrop_kiosk.jpg


  1. This article bought up a lot of thoughts and experiences for me. On the one side, I have encountered this overweight on carryon bag situation and although I did toss a few guide books, I discovered that the best method was to start “wearing” as much as I could….like strap the camera over the shoulder, put on the fleece jacket and the rain hats and so on. (this is in spite of how warm the current location is!) It worked is all I can say.

    My second thought on this is that, on occasion, when I knew I’d have lots of luggage for some reason (like moving from one location for example), I use my points to upgrade to the best class in terms of luggage allocation. This (even with cash) can sometimes be a better deal than paying for the excess luggage.

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