To Explore the New World of Airline Travel You Need More Than a Map

Am I the only one who’d rather not be nickel and dimed by the airlines?

Even the most seasoned travelers feel like traveling neophytes as they try to keep track of all of the changing rules, regulations and fees the airline industry imposes on daily basis.

It’s a new world, folks, and things are changing minute to minute. Between fees for baggage and food and breathing their oxygen (well, not yet – but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s coming!), it’s increasingly more confusing to do what once required no more thought than whether to bring the black shoes, the brown shoes or both.

Last week Husband drove son and I to the airport for our trip to New England, and before he got Son’s carseat out of the car I’d already experienced a problem.

I had read that Delta was not (yet) charging for a first checked bag. I had checked in online and told them we were checking two bags – 1 large suitcase and the carseat. Apparently I didn’t research enough because I thought the weight limit was 75 lbs, and I’d weighed it at home to make sure it was within limits. They weighed it right at the curb and came up with the same 54 lbs I’d gotten at home, and told me the weight limit was 50 lbs.


Okay, I thought. How much is it for an oversize bag? For $15- $20, I might have just paid it. But no – they wanted to charge me $80 for four extra pounds!

As if. So, I opened the bag and took out a few things. One was my blow dryer, as I can borrow from my sister if I really need to. And it’s summer, so most days I just pull it back in a ponytail or barrette and my fifteen second hairdo is done.

I also slipped one thing into my carry-on bag, which I was loathe to do. My carry-ons were heavy enough. The one bag plus one personal item per person limits are being strictly enforced because of the new fees, so I usually have to finagle to pass muster. I have a large (but acceptable airline size) tote bag that I use so if needed I can put my handbag, laptop and camera equipment inside and still have room for more stuff. The downside is it gets heavy! I didn’t have to worry about finagling this time because there were two of us traveling, so we were allowed 4 items. But of course Son didn’t want to carry any of them…

So, adjust your travel budgets.  And try some of the following:

  1. Pack light. If you’re going somewhere you can do laundry you can really pare it down.  Mix and match wherever possible, be willing to wear your jeans twice, and use all of the space available (why not pack your socks inside your shoes?).
  2. Carry-on only. If you pack light you won’t even have to check a bag.  Just make sure the bag you take on board meets the airline’s size requirements, usually a total of 45 inches!
  3. Wear your bigger, heavier items. On this trip Son and I both wore our sneakers (even though it took an extra moment at security) and jeans and we each carried a sweater.  This makes more room in your carry-on or checked bag, and saves on the weight, too!
  4. Use lightweight luggage. My very good, sturdy suitcase weighs about ten pounds.  If I had a lighter suitcase I would have been able to bring everything I had to take out of my bag.  I’ll be looking for a large nylon duffel bag to use in the future.  And methinks luggage companies are going to be coming out with some nice new lightweight models!

It’s also good to know that they don’t count car seats,  strollers or wheelchairs as baggage for either checked baggage, and they don’t count and diaper bags as carry-on.  There are other exceptions, too, so check your airline’s baggage policy!

I also found this website, where a resourceful guy has promised to quickly update airline fees.

So today you probably won’t be able to bring both the black shoes and the brown shoes, especially if you’re going to need your sneakers, too. Choose one pair, and if the weight of y our bag isn’t a problem make them slip-ons. You’ll get through security quicker…


6 Responses to “To Explore the New World of Airline Travel You Need More Than a Map”

  1. Funny about Money Says:

    What an outrage.

    This sort of thing is the reason I no longer fly, period. If I can’t get from here to there by car, I won’t go there.

    But if you must…your recommendations are excellent. They mean that if you live here in the Valley of the We-Do-Mean-Sun and are headed for San Francisco or Seattle, you may wear a jacket in 100-degree heat. Used to do it all the time!

    When the ex- and I spent three weeks in Australia & NZ and carried one suitcase between us, this was how I managed:

    1. Carry one (count it, one) washable dress. Washable means a synthetic thing that can be rinsed out in the bathroom sink and hung to dry without sagging. Do not wear anything else during the trip, except the smallest and lightest swimsuit you can get into.

    2. Get silk or nylon boxers for him. Carry nylon undies for yourself. All these must be things that can be washed in the hotel room and hung to dry overnight.

    3. Wear your hair either very short or very long, so that no hair dryer or rollers are needed.

    4. Minimize make-up. If you’re young you don’t need that gunk on your face, anyway.

    5. Carry as few toiletries as possible. Use sample-size toothpaste, conditioner, and the like. Bring a regular-size bottle of shampoo. Shampoo doubles nicely as Woolite; use it to wash clothes in the hotel room.

    6. Use a daypack as your carry-on. Stash your (very small!) purse in it, a pair of underpants, any meds you use, and contact lens chemicals, if any. A backpack is a LOT easier to tote through an airport than a bag. Keep your airline ticket and passport in a specific pocket in the daypack.

    7. Carry your ID clipped to a chain around your neck, so you don’t have to be constantly digging it out of a bag. If you are female, when you’re done passing through the gauntlet, drop the ID chain inside your shirt or dress so your ID is stashed inside your bra, making it difficult or impossible to lose.

    8. Wear your heaviest, bulkiest shoes on your feet; pack lighter dress shoes. But if you will not be doing any serious hiking, take and wear only ONE pair of shoes: a not-too-hideous pair of walking shoes or sturdy sandals that do not hurt your feet.

  2. Patty Says:

    I am crossing my fingers that the airline does not change their requirements on the girls flights tomorrow. I don’t think weight will be a problem, but you never know!

  3. Patty Says:

    good news! No changes in the luggage policy for the girls flights today! AND they put them both in as unaccompanied minors, and did not charge us extra for it.

  4. deepali Says:

    there was a time when airline travel was expensive, and only a small group of people could afford to do it. would it be better to go back to those days?

  5. GoodCents Says:

    Just a quick note to let you know your article will be included in the 66th Money Stories Carnival.

    The post will go live midnightish PST at


  6. Carnival of Money Stories Edition #66 Says:

    […] Be This Way explores The New World Of Airline Travel […]

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