Taken a flight to paradise lately? Chances are it came with a lot of excess baggage fees. When you’re lugging loads of gear halfway around the world, these fees can pile up like nitrogen load on a live-aboard. You might be tempted to stay home, but we’ve got six tips to help you travel smarter:
Pack a few key pieces of gear in your carryon (reg, mask and computer) and the rest in a duffel or dive bag. To avoid handling fees charged by some airlines — and theft — don’t use luggage labeled with a gear manufacturer’s logo.
Rent tanks (and weights) at your destination. Traveling with empty tanks incurs huge fees, with most airlines charging between $100 and $150 per tank each way.
Call the airlines in advance to check baggage fees and weight restrictions so you’re not surprised at check-in. A skycap is your friend — it’s worth a friendly tip to the guys who check your bag outside the terminal doors, as they’re more likely to be lenient on extra pounds and other restrictions.
Do the math when booking your flight, and opt for airlines that don’t charge for the first checked bag. Some airlines servicing popular dive destinations even allow extra luggage allowances for scuba gear. If you have a loyalty mileage program or credit card with a particular airline, there’s a good chance your first checked bag is free, too.
Book all flights on the same reservation (a travel agent can help get multiple airlines on one itinerary and can supply documents proving your travels started on American soil). Wherever your dive travels take you, when your flight originates in the U.S., then Uncle Sam’s generous 50-pound weight limit per bag can often be extended to other international airlines with stricter limits.
Be polite. It sounds simple, but a good attitude goes a long way at check in — airline staff will be more willing to help you when you smile and remain courteous.