Luggage allowances are shrinking. In size, and in weight. There is also a rising trend in travellers choosing hand-baggage only, to avoid extortionate checked-bag fees. This combination means it can be a struggle to squeeze all your belongings in this shrinking baggage. To make matters worse, while some airlines only implement baggage weights for checked bags, many carriers have recently introduced strict weight limits on hand baggage and increased fee for excess weight.
Here are some tricks to carry excess baggage without getting stung for the high fees. We can’t guarantee they’ll work — at the end of the day all airlines have a right to refuse travel to anybody for any reason — there is nothing explicitly listed in any airline rules that prohibits any of these sneaky tricks!
So if you’ve ever asked, how can I cheat my baggage weight? This article is for you!
1. The duty-free trick
With the rise of international travel over the last 50 years, airports have rapidly expanded. Once primarily for getting a flight, most airports are now glorified shopping malls with the addition of travel!
Duty-free booze makes up a considerable proportion of airports incomes, and as a result has its own special rules. It’s not in any airline baggage allowance we know of, and the limits surrounding duty free only relate to alcohol and tobacco limits and not weight. If you’ve bought duty-free from the airport you’ll be handed those familiar sturdy bags which are seemingly exempt from all checks.
It’s a two for one too. Stashing those last-minute souvenirs that never fit into your packed suitcase in these duty-free bags not only frees up space, but will help you cheat baggage weights, as the bags are never weighed.
2. Wear your heaviest clothes
While emphasis is placed on what you are wearing on holiday, it’s actually better to be thinking about what you’ll wear to the airport.
Frequently people look very comfy on flights. You know the type, sweatpants and a t-shirt, sometimes even wearing flip-flops and beach shorts 9,000 miles away from their destination.
This is great for comfort, but not for your baggage weights. The airport is not a fashion show!
- Put on your heaviest shoes (usually dress shoes or boots) alongside jeans, sweaters and a coat.
- Never wear leggings, dresses, or trousers without pockets.
- Fill coat and trouser pockets with items that can be awkward to pack like sunglasses, or battery packs
- Save weight in your bag, then change on the flight to get more comfy
3. Fill up travel pillows
Most airlines allow personal items. These are in addition to your hand baggage, and can be carried with you onboard. Examples are usually tablet devices, a spare coat, or even travel pillows.
But if you are going to be bringing a travel pillow, one top tip is to actually roll up soft items like t-shirts and underwear, and stuff them inside the pillowcase itself.
This trick to carry excess baggage has the potential to be taken to the extreme. We’ve even seen examples with people bringing full-sized pillows onboard. Just think of the packing possibilities!
4. Embrace the bum-bag
Bum-bags — or fanny packs in American English — get a mixed rep. 1990s hangover or un-ironically stylish? We’re not fashionistas at thrillofthecase, so we’ll leave that debate for you, but what bum-bags are useful for is cheating excess baggage weights!
Items such as large purses, travel pillows, umbrellas, books etc can be held in the hand as a personal item, in addition to your hand luggage. That’s great — as we know — anything that’s not in the bag doesn’t get weighed. Technically, a bum bag might also count as a personal item. However, in our experience, fanny packs are never included and most check in agents won’t question the fact you’ve brought a personal item and are wearing a bum-bag. It’s part of your attire, like a coat or a hat, and therefore exempt from the personal items rules.
As a result, they are great for stashing toiletries, rolled up undergarments keys and sunglasses, helping you cheat the baggage scales!
5. Travelling with kids? Stash in the stroller
Travelling with kids can multiply the stress and expense long before you factor in the overweight baggage fees. However, one trick to avoid excess baggage charges is to take advantage of airlines policies on strollers and buggies.
As consumer reviews website Which notes:
In most cases you won’t lose any luggage allowance by taking a pushchair. But, though the majority of airlines let you take a stroller for free
Most pushchairs and prams will have zipped pouches and attachments for small bags — perfect for stashing extra nappies, wet-wipes, and assorted travel items to maximise space in your luggage! Many airlines have weight limits of around 10 kg for strollers, however some airlines will check larger prams into the hold and have no limits on weight at all.
As a result, you can stuff pushchairs with as much luggage as they can fit.
6. Check in online
One of the easiest tricks to carry excess baggage — don’t weigh it!
This trick is for the gamblers. With the rise of low-cost airlines charging for everything, many carriers have tightened their policies surrounding hand luggage. As a result, airlines have begun to weigh carry-on bags as well as checked luggage. Some carriers are notoriously strict, the big three Middle Eastern carriers have around a 7 kg carry-on weight limit!
However, airlines often only weigh carry-on bags when you check in at the desk, using the same conveyor belt scales as they would weigh checked luggage.
If you check in online, and print your tickets out using one of the self-service machines at the airport, all that is left is to proceed via security to the gate. At the gate it is very rare to have carry-on luggage weighed, airlines don’t have the time, and they only have the famous basket gauge to judge carry-on size, not weight.
Hopefully, these 6 tricks to carry excess baggage will give you ideas for dodging overweight baggage fees, and help you bring more on your travels.
While this article focuses on how to cheat baggage weight limits, by far the best thing you can do to avoid weight limits is to invest in a digital baggage scale — or even smart luggage that weights itself. You’ll know exactly how much your luggage weighs before arriving at the airport, and dodge those hefty overweight charges for good.
Finally, weight is only half of the issue. For fitting more in, check out luggage accessories like packing cubes which can reduce the size of your clothes by 70% enabling you to pack more into your suitcase.