First, consider credit cards that are affiliated with airlines. Now, some such cards only give you frequent flyer miles for every dollar charged. But two, the Delta SkyMiles American Express Card and the Continental OnePass Chase Mastercard, also allow their carriers to fly their bags for free. The actual terms: One bag free per passenger for up to nine people per reservation. The Delta card has a $95 annual fee, while the Continental card costs $85, but both waive the fee for first-year cardholders. If you fly frequently on Delta or Continental, the price, even after the first complimentary year, may be right. However, if you tend to carry a balance on your credit cards, beware. Interest rates do tend to be higher on co-branded cards.
If you usually travel in large packs, United’s Premier Baggage might be of interest. For a $349 annual fee, you can check up to two bags per passenger for free on any United flight--domestic or international. The waiver applies to up to nine people traveling together under the same confirmation number.
If you are a United Premier Baggage member or a Continental OnePass cardholder, check throughout the year to assess how these programs are being affected by the merger of the two carriers. Currently, for example, flights and passenger-reward programs are operating independently. As the year progresses, though, the United-Continental marriage will come closer to fruition and more terms of the pre-nuptial agreement will come into effect.
Finally, during the past year, several hotel companies been running promotions offering to reimburse guests for airline bag fees. The most recent deal is from Intercontinental Hotels Group. Through April 30, guests can get up to $100 back in baggage fees whenever they book a two-night weekend stay at any of the company’s properties. That includes Holiday Inns, Crowne Plazas, and, of course, Intercontinental Hotels.