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How to Avoid Baggage Fees

Check-in line at airport.

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How to Avoid Fees

Although baggage fees may seem to be the new reality, there are still a few ways to give them the slip.

Maximize your miles. Achieving elite status on one airline helps you avoid fees on that carrier, but also gives you privileges with other alliance members.

Choose your credit card wisely. The Continental OnePass MasterCard and the Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express (T+L’s parent company) both offer a “first bag checked free” incentive. If you make more than two round-trips a year, you could save more in bag fees than the annual cost of the card.

Look for alternative carriers. A JetBlue ticket includes one free checked bag; Southwest Airlines passengers can check two bags free.

Upgrade your flight. Roughly 15,000 miles buys a one-way upgrade to business class on domestic flights on most airlines—and your suitcase will fly for free. But you may be trading one fee for another. American Airlines, for example, charges AAdvantage members $75 to use miles for an upgrade.

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