The 10 Most Creative Ways to Avoid Airline Fees (Like Wearable Suitcases)

by Paul Michael on 12 August 2014 3 comments

The cost of flying has never been higher. Which means the ways to potentially save on airfare have never been as… creative. (See also: 8 Airline Fees That Are Actually Worth Paying)

For those interested in bending a few rules, or looking a bit silly, you can skip some of the fees and chop down the price of a ticket, with these 10 of most ridiculous ways you can avoid those pesky airline fees.

1. Invest in Wearable Luggage

Ask yourself the following question — "Is it more important for me to look good on the plane, or save money on my flight?" If you choose the latter option (and you're reading Wise Bread, so that's highly likely), consider saving on checked bag fees by wearing your luggage. That's right, a website called Jaktogo.com, which has been around since 2010, has created clothing lines that can store up to 33 pounds of luggage. It's not exactly chic or stylish, but who cares if it saves you a bunch of cash every single time you fly. Not only that, if you're not checking bags you can avoid the baggage claim delays.

2. Make Your Layover Stop Your Final Destination

This is also known as the "hidden city" airline ticket, and none of the airline carriers will tell you about it. In fact, many of them say it's something you cannot do. But, if the airlines insist on charging additional fees while cutting services, I say "power to the people."

The trick here is to avoid booking a non-stop flight, and instead book one to a very popular destination with a big hub. The 1-stop or 2-stop flights are cheaper than direct flights, and what you want to do is find a layover that is your actual destination. Then, instead of switching planes, you just get off at the layover city and enjoy your vacation. You can save 30% or more by taking this route. Of course, you can only do this if you have no checked baggage, you must book one-way tickets, and if you get caught, you may get suspended from the airline.

3. Wear Layers Of Clothing

The blankets and pillows used to be free on your flight. That's increasingly not the case. So, if you're in for a long flight and don't like the chill, double or triple the layers of clothing you're wearing. Two to three shirts or sweaters, or maybe even a blanket tied around your waist, can come in very handy when you're flying. Ball them up as a pillow, or use them for cover. If you're hot, it's easy enough to take a few layers off.

4. Check Your Bag at the Gate

You'll pay to check your bag at the service desk, but you can skip that fee if you decide to take the airline's generous offer of a free bag check at the gate. Of course, you have to ensure the bag would fit in the overhead compartment first; they won't let you carry a massive suitcase onto the plane. But these days, with flights being overbooked, they are always looking to save a little room. If you want to make sure you've got the best chance of being asked to check your bag for free, hang back and board last.

5. Carry an Empty Water Bottle

You can't take big bottles of liquids, like water or juice, through security. But there is absolutely nothing stopping you taking an empty water bottle through the scanner. Once you're through the gate, you can fill it at a drinking fountain, or take your bottle onto the plane and ask them to fill it with water; either option is better than paying for the expensive bottled water on the flight. Seriously: Spirit charges $3 per bottle.

6. Baggage? Just Upgrade to Business

Wait, what? Isn't that going to cost more? Well, that all depends on the airline, your destination, and how much luggage you're checking. Business class seats often come with two or three checked bags free of charge. Sometimes, it can be as little as $40 for an upgrade (anyone who listens to comedian Hannibal Buress will know that story). If you do the math, you may find that you're paying the same for the business class seat as you are for the coach seat with checked bags.

7. Bring Chocolates on the Flight

These sweet treats aren't for you; they're for the flight attendants. When you board the plane, hand over a gift-wrapped box of delicious chocolates and thank them in advance for the wonderful job they do. Not only will you make their day, you will now be their favorite passenger. Suddenly, you're not paying for headphones, movies, drinks, meals, or anything else you'd normally have to pay for on board. It doesn't always happen, but when it does you'll save a bunch of money.

8. Buy Round Trip for One Way Journeys

It seems so odd that round trips are often cheaper than one-way tickets. Airline representatives state that they don't like people flying one way as it upsets schedules, so they discourage it with higher costs. There is also the corporate factor to take into account; business people will fly one way and their travel departments won't even blink at the high price. So, next time you're looking for a one-way flight, do a search for round trips as well. You may save hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars.

9. Send Your Baggage Through the Mail

Sadly, it has now become less expensive (in some instances) to mail your belongings to your destination than paying the additional baggage fees. Some will often charge over $100 extra for a heavy bag as well, and it can be much, much cheaper to simply box it up and send it via USPS or FedEx Ground. You'll have to make sure you analyze the weight, the time, and the hassle of going to the post office. But if it makes sense, why not?

10. Get a Bereavement Fare

Finally, the title of the article does include the word "ridiculous," and this is certainly the most questionable one on the list. I asked several friends to tell me the craziest thing they had done to save money on airfare, and two came back with "bereavement fare." It seems that if you are flying for bereavement, most airlines will discount your ticket. Now, the ethics of this are highly questionable (actually they're not… it's just wrong), but if you really are flying because of a death in the family, you should definitely take the airline's offer of a discounted ticket.

To what great lengths have you gone to avoid paying airline fees? Please share in comments!

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Guest's picture

I volunteer to stay behind on an OVERBOOK flight BEFORE they ask. I did this successfully 4 times in 2009 and had enough in Delta Dollars to have a free flight to Puerto Rico.

How it works:
Airlines frequently overbook (I haven't flown in a while, but I'm assuming this is still a practice)

When more people show up than they have seats for, they ask for volunteers to take the next flight. For the inconvenience, you can get $400-$600 credit depending on the airline. If the next flight is the next day, they will put you in a hotel.

It was happening so much, I started anticipating it, and by being first in line, I was guaranteed 1st volunteer.

Only works if you are flexible...so I mostly exercised on my way home...not on my way TO a destination

Guest's picture
Taylor

Ok some of these including the comment below are genius. I'll definitely look for cheaper fares by using the layover trick. I have been checking my bag at the gate for a while now LOL. If it passes as a carry on cool, if they check it for free? Mission accomplished!

Guest's picture
Noah

Here’s a useful tip: find small bottles (roughly 1.5 fluid ounces) to fill in your toiletries like shampoo, toothpaste and lotion for your short travels. Instead of paying $50 dollars for luggage, find these tiny bottles of liquid water enhancers sold at your local groceries store. They will be spacious enough to hold what you need while small enough to make it through security in your carry-on.