How I Wound Up Paying $456 for Checked Baggage

In 2018, my husband and I decided to take my in-laws on a trip to their homeland in Norway. We’ve been wanting to see the Norwegian fjords anyway, so why not? After we agreed on some dates for this upcoming June, I started to plan our itinerary as well and how to pay for the various components of our trip.

While Northern Europe is expensive, I saved money by booking an inexpensive Norwegian fjords cruise on MSC cruises and using points to cover hotels for the land-based parts of our trip in Bergen, Norway and Copenhagen, Denmark.

When it came to our flights, I initially figured I would pay with airline miles. I have a ton across the American AAdvantage and Delta SkyMiles programs, after all, as well as plenty of Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Ultimately though, I decided to pay for our six flights in cash. Why? Because I found round-trip flights from Chicago to Bergen, Norway (and home from Copenhagen) for a little over $600 each. That’s usually the threshold where I won’t use airline miles for flights to Europe. Most of the time, I prefer to save my miles for pricier flights.

How I Wound Up Paying $450 for Checked Bags

My husband and I are normally against checking bags on international trips — partly because it’s a pain but also because we don’t want to pay. For this particular trip, I also paid $48 for a 40-piece laundry package on our MSC Meraviglia cruise so we could have clean laundry half-way through our trip.

The Economy Light flights we booked don’t include any checked baggage, but they do include carry-on bags. Even better, they came with a free seat assignment.

Unfortunately, this is where the trouble started. I didn’t realize until a few weeks ago that our carry-on luggage could only be 22 pounds. That’s not a problem for my small children with their tiny clothing, but it’s an issue with my husband and I. We have our clothes to bring, but also some heavy toiletries and other items for the two-week trip. We also get one personal item like a backpack, but I bring my computer and other essentials in there already.

When it comes to my in-laws, I didn’t think asking them to bring only carry-on luggage that weighs less than 22 pounds would work, either. I figured we would just pay for checked bags at this point. How much could it be?

Much to my surprise, it Icelandair charges $95 per checked bag one-way for flights originating in the U.S. and ending in Europe if you pay at the airport — or $76 if you prepay online. When you are talking about six people, that’s a lot!

Lesson Learned

After some thought and planning, I figured we could get away with just one checked bag for our family of four. My children’s clothes are lightweight and they can bring any extra stuff they have in a small personal bag. My husband and I will have to put our heavy stuff in our checked luggage and probably just limit what we bring. We did decide to pay for a checked bag for both my in-laws because we figure they’ll want to bring plenty of clothes and bring some souvenirs home.

In total, the ordeal set us back $456.

Now that I’ve gone through this situation, I’ll never assume there’s no weight limit for carry-on luggage again — especially on international carriers I’ve never flown with. I’m not sure I would have done anything differently since our flights were fairly inexpensive, but I’ll definitely know what to expect with checked baggage now.

Have you ever had to pay an outrageous sum of money for checked baggage?

 

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