In­ever 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 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 eye­wa­ter­ing $115. There’s a fair chance your ticket cost less than that.


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!

Re­lax­ation’s in the bag when you fac­tor weight lim­its in the bud­get. C O O L , C A L M , C O L L E C T E D

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