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Hate paying airline baggage fees? Here are 5 strategies for avoiding that

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Rolling full outfits together helps you end up with the exact amount of clothing you need. (May 8, 2017) (Sign up for our free video newsletter)

Airfare isn’t inexpensive, especially if you’re flying to a smaller market, and bag fees add to the financial angst.

Some of the discount airlines (think: Spirit, Wow and Allegiant) charge for many things that used to be part of the package, such as seat selection or printing your boarding pass. Some airlines charge for carry-on luggage any bigger than a purse or small backpack.

If there’s one thing airlines agree on, it’s charging for regular checked baggage. And no wonder: In 2016, airlines collected more than $3 billion in bag fees, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

And it wasn’t the low-cost carriers that were at the head of the class; it was the legacy carriers. American put $839 million in its coffers; Delta, $659 million; and United, $520 million, ranking first, second and third, respectively in what they collected for your checked stuff.

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Spirit ($327 million), Frontier ($227 million) and Allegiant ($135 million) ranked fourth, fifth and seventh, respectively.

What this means — besides dollars to the bottom line — is this: If you can’t cram your stuff into a carry-on or you don’t want to be shackled to the bag in the run-up to your flight. you’ll want to/have to check.

On American, for a domestic flight, you’ll pay $25 for your first bag. For a round-trip for a family of four, that will add $200 to your costs.

If you’re looking for ways to avoid paying for checked bags, here are five of the best strategies:

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Packing with cubes

Websites that carry travel gear usually sell packing cubes, which corral and compress your clothes down to carry-on size.

Packing cubes also help you stay organized and keep your suitcase or backpack from exploding with clothes each time it’s opened.

With packing cubes, you’ll sort your clothing by type, then pack your luggage tightly to maximize space. The cubes force your clothing into smaller, compressed rectangles and squares so you can fit more into your bag.

Rolling your clothes

I’m a big fan of “rolling” outfits. It helps to select full outfits that you roll together. If you’re traveling for eight days, for example, you’ll select and roll together eight full outfits plus pajamas and underclothes.

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By selecting specific outfits for each day and rolling them together, you end up with the exact amount of clothing you need. Rolling your outfits also helps keep them wrinkle-free and organized.

Doing laundry

If you’re heading out for a longer trip and need more than seven to eight outfits, doing a few loads of laundry can help.

We’re going on a three-week trip to Europe this summer and, to be honest, I don’t even own three weeks’ worth of clothing.

Instead of checking bags, we’re going to take a week of clothing and wash it several times. If you don’t have a washing machine, you can hand-wash your clothes in a sink or bathtub, then hang them to dry on your own portable clothesline.

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Using the right travel credit card

If you fly a specific airline consistently, certain co-branded airline credit cards let you have your first checked bag free. Plus you can earn miles.

The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard is one example. With this card, you’ll get a sign-up bonus, no foreign transaction fees, preferred boarding on domestic flights and a free checked bag on domestic flights for you and up to four companions on your itinerary.

Traveling Southwest

We mean the airline, not the direction.

Southwest flies to hubs all over the U.S., plus Caribbean hot spots such as Grand Cayman (starting in June), Montego Bay, Jamaica; Aruba; Nassau, Bahamas; and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic — and no matter where you go with this airline, your first two checked bags fly free.

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Keep in mind there may be weight or size limitations, so it’s best to check the Southwest website.

travel@latimes.com

@latimestravel

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