Baggage fees have certainly become one of the big bugaboos of the travel industry over the last several years. Airlines have gone from offering two free bags to one free bag to no free bags, with notable exceptions like Southwest's "Bags Fly Free" promotion. Some airlines also offer free checked bags for their reward program credit card holders, or elite members of their reward programs. Some credit card providers or hotel chains offer to reimburse baggage fees, too.
I've taken airlines up on last-minute offers to upgrade to first class, not just for the extra legroom but also thanks to the realization that I'd get a meal on board, several complimentary alcoholic beverages -- and, yes, no bag fees. Normally, I'll skip the $300 upgrade offers, and I laughed when offered a first-class upgrade at $768 for a 2-hour flight from Newark to Atlanta, but when Continental's web check-in page gave me the option of a $79 upgrade for my two-leg itinerary last September, I grabbed it.
Usually, though, I'll suck it up and pay the $25 to check my bag. Since my flights out of a regional airport are almost always two-leg if not three-leg trips, that saves me the hassle of schlepping my bags through the airport from gate to gate. (Of course, it also increases the risk my bag won't make it to my destination, but I've mostly done OK.)
Once, I remember stuffing a pair of jeans and an umbrella in my laptop bag, and putting on a jacket, to get my suitcase under the 50-pound mark to save the $50 up-charge on the "overweight" bag. That's about as far as I'd go.
Thanks to flight attendant Heather Poole, author of Cruising Altitude, we know of one guy who decided to wear 70 extra articles of clothing to avoid that baggage fee! The article in Digital Spy says the "unidentified passenger turned up at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in China" and "took out and wore more than 60 shirts and nine pairs of jeans," with batteries, thumb drives, and device chargers in his various pockets, to avoid paying for luggage that went over the weight limit.
How about you? Are you happy to pay the baggage fees, or would you jump through hoops to avoid them?