Spend 5 minutes – save a 1000 bucks
Traveling with gear is not only tough on your gear, but can get very expensive–especially when you’re flying. Airlines charge fees for checked bags already and those fees can get very steep even for a regular passenger. They can easily add up to more than your ticket price, once you add a few hundred pounds of gear.
Save money by cutting your checked bag fee by over 90%
An overweight or oversize bag can cost $600.- per flight and that adds up quickly. I’ll show you how to significantly save a few hundred bucks and cut that cost (by over 90% ) on every flight you take from now on.
A few weeks I flew from Miami to Panama City Beach on Delta. Normally it’s $25.- for the first bag (as long as it’s under 50 pounds and smaller than 62 inches all around) and $35.- for the second bag. Once you add oversize and overweight you can get charged 3 fees! Per bag. Per flight. Yikes!
- First for an extra bag fee ($150 for the 3rd bag and $200 for a 4th)
- Secondly an overweight fee, for being over the allowable weight limit (up to $200 per bag). Some airlines make this a flat fee, others charge by the pound.
- Third an oversize fee, when your bag is larger than the allowable dimensions (another $200).
You see how that can get expensive in a heartbeat: one bag can cost you between $425 to $600. And you’ll get to pay that twice–once to go to work and again on your flight home.
My secret weapon to save…
However when you’re flying on a media rate (and yes you do need an ID that shows you’re a professional media photographer/cinematographer like the one that ASMP offers their members – make sure you double check the airlines ID requirements), each bag is a flat rate of –wait for it …
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… fifty bucks, so instead of paying $1,200.- per bag of gear, I paid $100 per flight, letting me pass on the savings of over $1,750.- in total to my very happy client. By the way I paid the same rate flying to the Florida panhandle as I did when traveling half way around the world to Afghanistan.
There are other professional trade groups that offer a media ID: APA does, but as far as I know PPA does not. If you know of another trade organization, that issue media ID cards please mention them in the comments.
Know your airlines baggage policy, sizes, weight and fees
Before you travel, find out what your airlines baggage policy is, they all post them online; but if you’re smart go a step further and call the airline a few days before the flight and ask about their media rate. Most of the big airlines have them (I’ve used them on Delta and American), but when you check in at the ticket counter since the agents don’t come across them very often, they may not know them or where to find them at all. This doesn’t just save you money, it saves you time & stress.
That’s where the phone call comes in. Discuss the media rate with the agent. Then politely ask the agent to make a quick note in your itinerary detailing what an extra bag costs. In addition print out the media rate webpage, what ever you can do to help the agent will be greatly appreciated.
Tips and tricks that’ll save your sanity when you check in:
- Grab a skycap curbside – he’ll know how to get you to the ticket counter quickly. Plus it’ll save your back. Don’t forget to tip him – he’s worth every penny.
- Take an extra 30 minutes. You don’t want to be in a rush and getting there early usually means shorter lines.
- Stay patient and friendly. People don’t like to deal with fools. Don’t make one out of yourself. You’re a professional traveler – act like one. A smile goes a long way. Don’t forget to thank the agent.
- Be prepared. Wear your media badge, have your ticket and ID ready to hand to the agent. Having the airlines travel policy referred to in your itinerary and having a printed copy with you shows the agent, that you’ve spend time to make the agents life easier. They’ll appreciate it.