The trauma of realizing your suitcase is overweight in a crowded airport is hard to forget, ever. What’s more, many people don’t even know what to do if something like that happens. What exactly happens when your suitcase is overweight, and how can you avoid it?
If your suitcase is over the limit set by your airline company, you’ll need to pay an additional fee for your overweight suitcase. Another option you can do is to remove some things from your suitcase to reduce the weight. Most airlines won’t accept suitcases over 100 lbs (45 kgs).
In the rest of this article, I’ll write about what happens when your suitcase is overweight and the fee price of overweight suitcases. Additionally, I’ll mention some of the best ways you can reduce the weight of your suitcase to avoid paying additional fees.
What To Do if Your Suitcase Is Overweight
So, you arrive at the airport with your suitcase, hoping it doesn’t exceed the weight limit. Then, you place it on the scale, and it turns out it’s overweight. The line behind you is getting longer, and you’re not sure what will happen next.
Well, there are generally four options you can choose to do if you think or know your suitcase is overweight.
The best thing is always to pack light, but sometimes that’s impossible, so let’s take a look at what you can do when your luggage is overweight.
1. Pay a Fee at the Airport
This is the easiest option you can choose, but it doesn’t mean it’s the cheapest. The fees for overweight suitcases vary from airport to airport. Furthermore, the fees can additionally vary based on your destination and your cabin option, but what’s for sure is that they’re never cheap.
Every airline company has its own rules for overweight suitcases, but generally speaking, if your suitcase is just over 50 lbs (23 kgs), which is the limit for most airlines, then you can still bring your suitcase with you. In that case, all you need to do is pay the fee, and you’re good to go.
However, some airlines won’t even accept your suitcase if it’s over 100 lbs (45 kgs), and you’ll have to leave it at the airport.
2. Send the Suitcase in Advance to Your Destination
Sending your luggage to your desired destination ahead of you is becoming more and more popular today.
And it’s not hard to see why. Instead of worrying if your suitcase will be overweight at the airport, you can simply ship or send your luggage to the address of your accommodation.
This means that you’ll need to know, or at least suspect, that your suitcase is overweight before arriving at an airport so that you can ship it before you depart to your destination.
This is a great option if you have multiple suitcases or even boxes of stuff and you don’t want to pay a large amount of money for them while you’re checking in at the airport.
3. Come Early to the Airport To Check In Your Suitcase
I know this option can be a challenge for some, but it’s probably the best thing to do. Arriving at the airport to check in your luggage just before the flight is an inconvenience for everybody.
First, you won’t have enough time to resolve the issue if it turns out your suitcase is over the weight limit. In those situations, you’ll probably need to do what’s quickest, which is to pay pricey fees to the airline company.
Second, as you’re trying to resolve the issue with the airport staff, all the passengers will need to wait in line, creating a huge angry crowd.
The best option is to arrive at the airport a few hours before your flight. That way, even if your suitcase is overweight, you’ll have plenty of time to think about what the best solution is. You can even go and buy a new bag, or you can just take some things out of the suitcase and put them in your carry-on.
4. Pay for an Extra Bag
Regardless of how much you try, sometimes you just can’t shove everything into one suitcase. In those situations, you can either only bring one suitcase filled with stuff and hope it’s not overweight, or take two suitcases with you.
Unfortunately, this means you’ll have to pay for those two suitcases. The way prices in airline companies work nowadays is that they’ll charge the second suitcase more than the first one.
So, why should anybody pay for an extra suitcase? Well, if you’re one of those people who like to buy things in the places you fly to, then an extra suitcase will come in handy. Traveling with only one suitcase means you’ll not be able to bring anything back with you from your vacation.
How Much Do I Have To Pay if My Luggage Is Overweight?
The amount you pay if your luggage is overweight depends on an airline company’s policy, your destination, and the type of cabin service you opt for. The best thing is to check with your airline company for details. In most cases, however, the fees can reach hundreds of dollars.
As I mentioned earlier, some airlines generally don’t accept suitcases that are over 100 lbs (45 kgs) in weight. In those cases, you can’t pay a fee even if you wanted to. If your suitcase is just slightly over the weight limit, some airlines are pretty lenient and won’t charge you anything.
You should always visit your airline company’s website or call them to know their policy on this matter. The fees and baggage allowances vary drastically for different airlines.
How Strict Are Baggage Weight Limits?
Baggage weight limits vary from airline to airline, as do their rules about overweight luggage. Some airlines will be more lenient and won’t charge anything, while others will make you pay a fee for any amount of pounds/kilograms over the weight limit.
For passengers in the US, if you’re flying interstate, some airline companies won’t charge you a fee for an over-the-weight-limit suitcase. However, that might not be the case for international flights, and you’ll need to either pay the fee or remove some things from the suitcase.
How to Reduce the Weight of Your Suitcase
If you’re planning on traveling with only one suitcase, then there’ll have to be some sacrifices made, especially when choosing what comes with you on your flight. Fortunately, there are some methods that can help you reduce the weight of your suitcase.
1. Take Things Out of Your Suitcase To Reduce the Weight
Packing things before leaving is a strategic game of what goes in and what stays behind. Inevitably, you’ll have to say “no” to some things you’d love to have with you on your journey, and there are certainly some things we could survive without on our vacation.
More often than not, we like to pack things we won’t really need where we’re going. These often include books we plan on reading during our flight or on our vacation or pieces of clothes we don’t need.
We probably don’t need four pairs of pants and twenty t-shirts, no matter where we’re going—especially if you’re visiting a place where you can buy really cheap clothes. It’s better to spend a few extra bucks on some low-quality pieces of clothing than to pay a costly fee for your suitcase.
As for the books in your suitcase, if you really have to, you can bring only one and put it in your carry-on, which in most cases is free of charge. If you can afford it, the best solution is a Kindle or some other e-reader, which is much lighter and thinner than a physical book.
I recommend the Kindle Paperwhite from Amazon.com. Not only is this kindle climate pledge friendly, but it also comes with a larger display and space to store thousands of books.
2. Weigh Your Suitcase at Home
If you want to avoid the pressure and uncertainty that’s present when weighing your suitcase at the airport, then the best solution is to weigh it in the comfort of your home.
There are some things you should take into account before using your own scale, though.
First of all, small commercial scales may not be as accurate as those at airports, which are calibrated to measure very accurately. That’s why sometimes you’ll have different measurements of the same suitcase at home and at an airport. However, this is still a better solution than hoping that your suitcase doesn’t go over the weight limit.
Secondly, bathroom scales can be a great measuring device for your own body weight (they were made for that), but when it comes to weighing your suitcase, they might not be the best solution.
The reason for that is that bathroom scales may not be big enough for your entire suitcase. This means that some parts of the suitcase (and the content on that side of it) won’t be weighed at all, which will give you inaccurate measurements.
Therefore, it’s probably best to invest in a luggage scale that’ll give you far more accurate results. I recommend Freetoo’s Portable Luggage Scale from Amazon.com. It’s a digital scale that can measure up to 110 lbs (50 kgs). The nicely designed handle is sturdy and will fit your hands perfectly as you’re trying to measure your heavy suitcases.
3. Carry a Lighter Suitcase That Won’t Add Any Extra Weight
Usually, we don’t pack that many things in our suitcases, yet we can hardly pick them up. In those cases, the suitcase itself might be the problem.
We like to protect our valuable things as they go through a rough journey from check-in all the way to the belly of the airplane—and that’s before the take-off—, so we buy hard-shell suitcases just to be safe.
Even though your things will be protected, having a hard-shell suitcase means extra weight. All that hard and protective material will weigh more than the fabric ordinary soft-shell suitcases are made of.
If you don’t have any expensive and easily breakable stuff that’s traveling with you, then it’s best to use a soft-shell suitcase. That will reduce the weight instantly.
On the other hand, maybe you do have some valuable items you don’t want to get damaged. In that case, you could try to protect those items by placing them between other soft materials, such as shirts or socks, or wrap them with thin bubble wrap.
4. Use Your Carry-On for Smaller and Heavier Things
There are generally two things you can do if your suitcase is over the weight limit: you can either pay the fee for the extra weight or take some things out so that the weight is then within the allowed limit.
You should always take out smaller and heavier stuff since you can put them in your carry-on instead. Many airline companies offer one free carry-on, so you should use it as a backup. Some companies even offer two or three free-of-charge carry-ons. It’s always best to check this with your airline company.
In any case, don’t get rid of your stuff or pay a fee if there are small things you can move to your carry-on to reduce the weight. Even pockets will do if they’re large enough to fit some things.
If you already know that your airline company offers a number of free carry-ons, then you should definitely place all of your small and heavy objects in your carry-on while you’re at home.
If your suitcase is overweight, your safest option is to pay an additional fee. Those fees vary, and the best thing to do is to check your airline company’s policy on this matter.
However, there are some options apart from paying costly fees for your suitcase that’s over the weight limit:
- Ship your suitcase in advance.
- Come to the airport earlier to check in your suitcase.
- Pay for an additional suitcase.
- lugless: Avoid Overweight Checked Baggage Fee Sticker Shock
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- wotif: What to Do When Your Luggage Is DEFINITELY Overweight
- Travelnuity: 7 Easy Tips to Avoid Overweight Luggage
- Confused: Baggage Allowance, Weights and Costs Explained
- Skyscanner: Excess Baggage Fees: How to Avoid Extra Charges at the Airport
- Hand Luggage Only: 5 Easy Ways to Avoid Paying Excess Baggage Charges at the Airport!
- American Airlines: Oversize and Overweight Bags