Jetstar rule costing travellers $115
I NEVER want to pay extra fees for luggage, and I never want to hang around waiting for my cases when I arrive. On domestic trips, I keep myself under the strict 7kg carry-on limits that apply on most flights in Australia (regional services can have even tighter restrictions).
But what if you know you're not efficient at packing?
Hoping you'll be able to stuff your small carry-on to the brim and simply sail on using your mobile boarding pass won't cut it any more. Qantas, Virgin, Jetstar and Tigerair all now regularly weigh hand luggage at the gate. I'll admit it, I laugh at other people when this happens.
If you go over, at best, you'll have your carry-on sent into the hold. At worst, you'll have to pay massive extra fees for the privilege of doing so.
The two major no-frills carriers, Jetstar and Tigerair, do offer an alternative: paying for extra carry-on luggage. That will get you several more crucial kilos and still doesn't leave you twiddling your thumbs at the carousel.
But is it really worth it?
Fees vary depending on destination, but for comparison purposes I looked at what each airline charges on Sydney-Melbourne flights.
To top up Jetstar allowance from 7kg to 10kg, you'll pay $16 (effectively $1.60 per kilo of luggage). On Tigerair, going up to the 12kg Cabin+ option will cost you $15 ($1.25 per kilo).
That might not seem pricey compared to Australia Post, but it looks like poor value relative to what you'd pay for checked baggage on the same service. If you add luggage when you book, Jetstar will charge you $19 to check a 15kg bag, or $21 for 20kg of luggage. That works out about 78c/kg (factoring in your 7kg of hand luggage as well).
Tigerair is again a little more generous, with 15kg costing $14 at time of booking, and 20kg costing $16. At an effective rate of 59c/kg, you're getting a lot more luggage bang for your buck.
Where you'll really pay is if you don't book your checked baggage in advance. Checking a 15kg bag on Jetstar will cost $60 at the gate. On Tigerair, the fee is $75. Jump up to 20kg and Tigerair will slug you $85, while Jetstar will want an eye-watering $115. There's a fair chance your ticket cost less than that.
WHAT TO DO
So what's my advice? Passenger, know thyself. If you're planning a big shop on your holiday, pay upfront for checked baggage rather than risking excess fees. Remember, too, if you're planning to use an airport shuttle at your destination, it won't leave until the checked baggage has all arrived, and you won't save any time if you haven't checked anything.
Finally, whatever you do, weigh your fully loaded carry-on bag before you leave for the airport. Portable luggage scales are a traveller investment that pay off really quickly, and they don't weigh much!
Angus Kidman is editor-in-chief and travel guru for finder.com.au
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