Thanks to our reader Dany for contributing this article to our website:
“You always see it at the airport…the hectic boarding lines to be able to put carry-ons inside the overhead bins. Bag fees have become absurd, and it’s understandable why travelers refuse to pay to check their bags. But if you don’t want to carry your bag around the airport, and you refuse to pay bag fees, you’re in luck. There’s something you can do to get both without having airline status or credit cards. I fly almost exclusively with Delta, so I can only vouch for how it works there, but the same can probably be applied to most major airlines. Here’s how to do it…
If you think travelers hate dealing with full overhead bins, flight attendants hate it even more. It’s a delicate game of Tetris they are playing with carry-on bags. The next time you are flying Delta and don’t want to pay for bag fees, take your (reasonably sized) bag through security just the way you would take your carry-on. When you get to your departure gate, walk up to the desk and tell the agent you want to gate-check your bag. They are always happy to do it and will not charge you anything for it. Your bag will be transferred through all your connections and you can pick it up in baggage claim at your final destination.
Here’s an example. I have Medallion status with Delta, so I already get two free checked bags on every flight, but on this particular day, I was traveling with 5 total bags (4 bags with work equipment and my personal bag). My total would have been $350 (the first two free, the third $25, the fourth $125, and the fifth $200).
Instead, I checked my four work bags (too big for carry-on) for $150. I took my personal bag through security and gate checked it for free. In all, I got to check all 5 bags for only $150. Savings: $200.
Another benefit of this is that you can skip the bag check line at the airport, get all your documents at a check-in kiosk and head straight to security, all while checking your bag for free.”