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6 Ways to Avoid Hefty Baggage Fees

By SHANNON KELLY

We’ve been there: repacking our luggage at the check-in area to get a suitcase under the weight limit to avoid being slapped with a fee.

Overpacking can be an expensive habit. Canadian airlines haven’t hit the $450 per bag mark yet (like American Airlines in in the U.S.), but Air Canada charges $75–$100 for overweight or oversize baggage; WestJet charges $50 and Porter charges $5 per additional kilogram. And whether you’re willing to pay the fee or not, each airline has a weight cutoff.

Here are a few tips to save yourself from weighty baggage fees:

1. Know the weight and size restrictions. This seems obvious, but how else do so many travellers get hit with these fees? Go online or call your airline to get their limits. Know, however that there are a few (almost) universal truths, like the one-checked-bag limit.

Check the baggage restrictions for:

2. Weigh and measure your luggage before you leave home. If you don’t have a scale, buy one. A $10 bathroom scale (that you can use again and again) versus a $75 baggage fee? Totally worth it.

3. Don’t check anything at all (or at least pack light). We dream about breezing past the crowds heading for the baggage carousel. Plus, with Air Canada now charging for your first checked bag on flights to the U.S., you could shave an extra $25 off your trip. Lifehacker has some great tips for achieving all-zen no-checked-luggage travel status.

4. Pack smarter. Do some research as to whether your hotel, friend or family member has essentials you can borrow, like a hair dryer. Think about weight distribution, and consider moving some heavy items to your carry-on. And the shoes—oh, the shoes. They’re probably the heaviest space hogs in any suitcase. If you find you need four to five pairs for your trip, it’s time to invest in a single versatile pair of kicks that can work for several occasions. For more packing insights, check out our “25 Packing Tips from Travel Experts”.

5. Buy a lighter, slimmer suitcase. It may only save you a couple of pounds, but a less-bulky suitcase with handy pockets and a smart layout can help you become a packing wizard.

6. Take a foldable bag for emergencies. If you’ve overpacked and have no room to reconfigure in your suitcase, you can stash some stuff in your handy pack-away bag. (Then just tuck your purse or other personal item into your carry-on, et voilà!) We recommend something with a zipper, like Magellan’s Getaway Just In Case Bag.

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