How to Avoid a Last-Minute Extra Baggage Fee at the Airport

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Flying coach in 2022 is an annoying and wallet-emptying experience† Depending on which airline you fly, you may have to pay for everything from WiFi and headphones to apple juice and the privilege or advance seat selection† And it’s a rare flight indeed when you can get away without paying any baggage fees, whether because your suitcase is oversized or simply bbecause it exists.

But some travelers have found a creative way around airlines charging us through the nose for the most basic of travel necessities (like bringing clothes)

avoid around extra baggage fees with a Duty Free bag

If you want to bring an extra “bag” on board and avoid additional fees, make it a plastic one. A tall, sturdy, opaque one with “Duty Free” emblazoned on the side, preferably. Because, as flight attendant Miguel Muñoz told express.co.uk“duty-free bags don’t count as carry-on baggage”—a fact many travelers aren’t aware of.

While most airlines charge for your suitcase and carry-ons, they don’t charge you for a bag full of stuff that you just (wink wink) purchased at the airport. While any bag that looks like it could have come from one of the airport shops will do, it helps if it can’t be seen through.

The use of your Duty Free bag can be preplanned (as in, I am purposely going to use this as an extra carry on for my books, umbrella, and workout sneakers I won’t even wear† Or it can be saved for those emergency moments at check-in when your bag weighs more than the limit and the airline wants to charge you for the extra weight. At which point, you remove a few of the heaviest items and deposit them in your handy dandy Duty Free bag. Ash Frommer’s points out, “iit’s not against the rules. It’s just a loophole.”

Munoz (who did not disclose the airline he works for) admits he uses this method himself when on vacation to avoid excess fees. “When I see people coming on board with a duty-free bag that looks very full I always assume they are using it for this purpose as it obviously doesn’t contain just one perfume or bottle of wine. But a lot of crew don’t know this and most won’t realize. If you come on board with one piece of luggage, which you are allowed to, and a duty-free bag with some of your belongings, no one will say anything.”

well, now they might. Since this hack has also gone viral on TikTok, airlines may start watching out for it. Take advantage of it while you can. †And when this method fails, there’s always the “stuff your clothes in an empty pillowcase hack

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