International Baggage Fees Are Up Again. What’s a Traveler To Do?

International baggage fees are going up again on United: Houston’s CultureMap blog reported in mid-June that the airline had increased baggage fees on many international flights by 43 percent.
Though the first bag is still free to check on international flights, the price of a second bag is now nearly half again as much as it was: It’s now $100.
The change took effect on June 1, and it’s the coach passengers who are looking at bearing the brunt of the costs.
A female Thai Airways International employee attaching baggage tags onto a passenger suitcase during Check-In procedure at Suvarnabhumi International Airport near Bangkok. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
But knowing that the first bag gets overseas for free, the uproar over this higher fee gave us reason to wonder when — and whether — travelers would really need two huge bags for an international trip.
If you’re traveling for as long as 10 days, you can avoid this fee by packing everything in one check-in sized bag and one carry-on. If you’re budget conscious but not as efficient when you’re planning what to take on your travels, the $100 fee for the second checked-bag is a strong incentive to learn to pack more efficiently.
When you’re packing clothing, remember that you probably won’t see anyone twice — outside of your family, friends or colleagues, if you’re traveling with a group — and no one is going to single you out for doubling up on a piece of clothing. If they do, ask them how they liked lugging their giant suitcase around.
Pack items that are color coordinated and can be washed and dried easily and quickly. Accessories take up very little space and can change your look a lot from day to day. Limit the pairs of shoes you bring too. Wear your biggest shoes on the plane.
Keep liquids, cosmetics and other toiletries limited to the basics, too — you’d be surprised how much space those things take up! Simplicity is best when you’re traveling. Maybe even consider buying some of these overseas, if you’re going to be gone for a while.
So, when might you actually need that second bag? We can’t think of many instances, actually. If you’re going on a long trip and know you’ll be bringing more items home with you than you came with — and those items won’t fit in a duffel bag or suitcase that you can carry on — that could be cause for a second checked suitcase.
The same goes for if you’re visiting friends or relatives and need to take gifts or other items to them. But you might consider buying an inexpensive suitcase from a second-hand or discount store that you can just leave it at your destination and save on fees during your return leg.
Have you ever traveled internationally with two checked bags? What did you pack? And would you do it again now that the fees are higher? Tell us in the comments when and how you did it, or plan on doing it in the future.
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