Ancillary airline fees continue to rise. We find them annoying and, even when we can afford to pay them, we just don’t like to. Since we last updated checked bag fees in 2018, you won’t be surprised to learn that they have increased again. The game here is to drive loyalty credit cards with annual fees as well as very frequent flier status, in order to avoid checked bag fees on flights to Hawaii.
What have you been doing about bag fees, if anything?
We continue to rethink packing when traveling to and from Hawaii, in part to reduce bag fees. For one thing, last year we bought new carry-on’s that really help and have avoided problems (see tips and tricks below).
Since last we checked, these fees became standard across all airlines, with the lone exception of Southwest Hawaii flights. It seems hard to avoid them when coming to Hawaii given the average stay duration and distance. All airline fees have been on the increase since their introduction ten years ago, and last year, it was estimated that they amounted to $5 billion in the US alone. Read on for our updated checked bag fees by airlines for flights to Hawaii.
1. Updated costs for checked bags on flights to Hawaii (effective 5/2019):
With the exception of Southwest, these were all increased by 20% since last year.
Alaska Airlines: $30 first bag, $40 second bag.
American Airlines: $30 first bag, $40 second bag.
Delta Airlines: $30 first bag, $40 second bag.
Hawaiian Airlines: $30 first bag, $40 second bag. Note: Inter-island bag fees have not increased.
Southwest Airlines No charge for first two checked bags. (Best deal).
United Airlines: $30 first bag, $40 second bag.
2. Tips and Tricks for Carry-on and Checked bags.
Use a larger carry-on that still fits in airline overheads (22 x 14 x 9). Warning: be sure to check the actual dimensions (rather than the quoted dimensions) when purchasing luggage. Most luggage companies measure without including the wheel protrusion. The airlines, on the other hand, measure total exterior dimensions including wheels. Frequently, a 22″ carry-on actually has a dimension of over 23″.
Consider newer carry-on’s that weigh about half what they did even a few years ago. We replaced 10 lb bags with 6 lb bags.
On Hawaiian Airlines for example, our new full-size 22″ (measured) carry-on fits directly into the overhead both inter-island and trans-Pacific. Check what size will fit on the airline and plane type that you’ll be flying.
You won’t need as much clothing as you think. One sweater or sweatshirt, long pants and athletic shoes worn on the plane are generally adequate for staying warm during all seasons in Hawaii. A shell (no liner) for rain also helps year round. The remaining clothes can be lightweight, mostly shorts, shirts and sandals. Dressing beyond “resort casual” is less common in Hawaii.
Do plan some for some laundry while you’re here. Many if not most Hawaii accommodations have laundry facilities on location or nearby. The exception is generally the better hotels; although even many highly rated hotels have added a guest laundry. Without laundry facilities, quick washing can be done in a sink (consider packing a 1-2 ounce container of liquid dish washing soap), and a drying line in the bathroom is either provided or can be improvised. Have you tried the incredible travel clothes we fancy from Ex Officio? They wash in the sink, dry in a few hours and always look sharp.
Use the hotel beach towels. Bringing your own takes up valuable luggage space. Use the hotel towels and drop them off on your day of departure en route to the airport. Or, consider a fast-dry travel towel. We find those very handy after checking out, when heading to the beach before the airport.
White clothes stay home. They don’t mix very well with either the unavoidable red dirt here in Hawaii or other stains. That is especially true for shoe soles.
Keep track of the weight of your carry-on (and your checked luggage). Airlines are beginning to enforce carry-on weight limits, so be prepared in case they do. A portable luggage scale just keeps on working trip after trip.
Join the airline’s loyalty program. For example, Hawaiian Air’s frequent flyer membership will get you a $10 savings on the first checked bag and $15 saving on the second on inter-island flights. We suggest signing up for membership prior to purchasing Hawaiian Airlines tickets.
Check airline credit card programs. Many of these offer free checked bags or other perks worth investigating.
Beat of Hawaii photo at Waikiki.