Most airlines will make you pay for check-in nowadays. And I do understand. Why let people pay for a feature they do not use – why not turn it around and let people only pay for the luggage they bring. So how to get free check-in luggage?

The nasty side-effect of the paid check-in luggage is that more than ever, travelers maximise the number and the size of items they bring as cabin luggage. Because of that, people want to board the plane early to at least have their luggage fit in the overhead compartment above their head.

Especially when I am only carrying hand luggage, I do not want to pay for check-in luggage but I definitely do not want to get into a fight with other travelers about the space in the overhead compartments on the plane. So, recently I adopted the following strategy:

  • Go to the check-in desk with your suitcase to check in, ideally when there are not too many people queueing behind you.
  • Do normal check-in and casually ask if the flight is full.
  • The person behind the desk can give two answers: It either is not a full flight (and you will probably won’t have to fight for your compartment space) or it is a full flight, which the person most probably will recognize.
  • If so, ask if it would help if you would check in your luggage.
  • If the flight is full, in most of the cases the person behind the desk will say it will and he or she will check in your luggage for free.

I can’t guarantee a 100% success rate for free check-in luggage, but it is very well worth the try.

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