The thrill of shopping up a storm on your Hawaiian getaway can quickly dissolve when you're slugged hundreds of dollars to bring it home. Excess baggage is the pits - so here's how to avoid it.

PAY UPFRONT

All major airlines will tell you to pay upfront for baggage to pay the best price.

Most Jetstar customers pre-purchase baggage when booking online, saving them money in the long haul. "To get the lowest price for excess baggage, our best tip is always to add bags to your booking before you arrive at the airport," a spokesman said. "It costs more to add it online later, and much more to add it at the airport."

Tigerair Australia recommends buying check-in baggage at the time of booking.

"Baggage will be least expensive when purchased at the time of booking and most expensive when purchased at the airport," the airline's website warns.

 

Ease up — do you really need those extra outfits?
Ease up — do you really need those extra outfits?

SO WHAT ARE THE CHARGES?

With Jetstar, starter fares include a baggage allowance of two carry-on items weighing up to 7kg - you can upgrade to 10kg for $13 - after that you can buy checked baggage from 15kg to 40kg. At the airport, you'll pay $60 for up to 15kg when flying domestically. After that, it's $15 a kilo. Internationally though, that bumps up to $25 a kilo.

Virgin Australia uses a piece system, not a weight system - so you can have two pieces of luggage weighing up to 23kg each. Each guest must have their checked baggage processed individually though, so pooling baggage isn't allowed. If you need additional baggage, you can pre-purchase it online ($35 for one piece of $70 for two). That's cheaper than if purchased through the airline's Guest Contact Centre ($49 for one bag, $98 for two).

Domestically, Qantas economy flyers are allowed to check one piece of luggage up to 23 kilos. At the airport, you'll pay $78 for an extra piece of luggage for Qantas domestic, or $90 for the second and subsequent pieces. You will also face a $50 heavy charge for each piece weighing over 23 kilos - and that all adds up. If you're flying Qantas to north or South America, you'll be slugged $175 for the extra first piece of luggage, and a $75 heavy charge. For any other international destination, costs range from $20-$80 per extra kilo.

Tigerair Australia charges $75 for 15kg of luggage for a short flight under an hour and 45 minutes, or $90 for a flight over that. Any excess baggage is charged at $20 per kilo for short flights, and $25 for longer ones.

Tiger passengers can combine their baggage allowance though, as long as they are under the same booking, check-in together, and all board the same flight, and any single piece of luggage can't weigh more than 30kg.

If your baggage is pre-paid, you can breathe easy.
If your baggage is pre-paid, you can breathe easy.

BE A LOYAL FLYER

To avoid the costly extra charges, check your Frequent Flyer status - the higher the tier, the more luggage you're allowed to bring.

A Virgin spokesman told Escape that if you need more baggage, it pays to be a high-flying Velocity member.

"High-tiered Velocity members have increased baggage allowance," he said.

For example, Platinum members are allowed three bags at 23kg each, and members flying on partner airline Etihad are allowed 50kg when travelling to Europe - almost double the standard 30kg allowance.

Gold Qantas Frequent Flyers are allowed 46kg - up from the standard 30kg offered on international flights.

KNOW YOUR LIMITS

Weigh your bags before you leave home and make sure you're within your limits, or unfortunately you will be charged. Even if it's just a few kilos over, airline staff are strict on enforcing their fees, and it will cost you at the gate.

To avoid any charges (and bad looks from the long queue of people waiting behind you), make sure you know the carry-on and checked baggage limits for your carrier. If you know Virgin has a 23kg limit per bag but yours is bulging at 25, you'd be better off dividing your haul into two bags - then you'll have room to bring home any shopping you do.

GO BUSINESS CLASS

If you're flying business class, you'll have a bigger allowance so will escape any additional weight charges. On a Qantas international flight, you can add 10kg to the normal 30kg offering - which goes up to a massive 56kg if you happen to be a Gold Frequent Flyer, and 60kg for Platinum. On a domestic flight, Qantas business class passengers are allowed two pieces up to 32kg each, instead of economy's single 23kg bag.

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