This might not come across as news if you are a frequent traveler, but for a newbie traveler or flyer, it is important to know what Excess Baggage Allowance is. Excess Baggage Allowance is what you pay for luggage that exceeds the limits for weight, size, or number of pieces allowed by a particular carrier. Excess baggage requires payment of additional freight and may be sent separately as cargo and not as accompanied baggage.

Depending on your route, your baggage allowance may be calculated by piece or weight. For instance, passengers flying from the Lagos Airport to Dubai on an Economy Cabin have a standard baggage allowance of 30kg, with the excess per kilogram as $30 (plus applicable taxes).

A lot of Nigerian travelers run into problems at the airport when returning home from their foreign trips because they could not afford to pay for excess luggage – Nigerian women in particular love good things and they can “shop to the death” when travelling.

Their bags are stuffed with designer clothes, shoes, sun glasses they bought from major shops in London, Paris and Dubai and they are left with just their return tickets back to Nigeria.

Therefore, we’ve tried to put together a few tips to help you avoid or at least reduce any charges you may incur.

Whenever you book a flight, part of the ticketing conditions should indicate the checked in luggage allowance. If you know in advance that you will exceed your allowance, you should contact the airline as paying charges in advance will almost always reduce your excess costs. You should also be aware that more and more airlines will restrict the number of items you can check in. If an airline has a limit of one piece and 30kg per person, you need to be aware that you may well be charged if you try to check in 2 pieces at 15kg each.

The first thing you need to do is to check your luggage allowance with the airline. This information is usually on their website or you can call them to find out. Many passengers don’t even read the rules that apply to their tickets. Set this as a standard from today, always read the rules of your airline tickets. Spending about 5 minutes to go through the rules can save you a lot of time and money at the airport.

You should also check the hand luggage allowance as some airlines will strictly enforce the weight of this too. If it is over the allowed weight, you will have to repack items into your checked in baggage and this could put you over your allowance.

One of the best items you can purchase is a portable set of luggage scales. They are cheap and lightweight which means you can take them with you. We have often heard people say they weigh the suitcases by getting on the bathroom scales to weigh themselves and then re-weighing themselves holding the suitcase. That method is all very well when you are at home but how about on your return trip? One of the tricks some airlines use to trap passengers into paying excess charges is to allow them carry slightly over their allowance on their outbound flights, but on the return flight strictly enforce baggage rules.

Another rule you need to be aware of that some airlines enforce is the maximum weight of a single item. Often, this is set at 23kg so you also need to check the airlines rules and take this into consideration when packing. If an airline has a 15kg limit and you are traveling with your spouse, it is unlikely they will accept a single suitcase weighing 30kg. However, when travelling as a family of more than three or in a group, you should be able to take advantage of the joint allowance. Usually, there is nothing wrong with spreading the allowance between all members of the travelling party.

Also, note that children are also usually entitled to the same luggage allowance as adults.

Because of the economic crunch in Europe and other parts of the world and most importantly, competition amongst the airlines which sometimes is not healthy, luggage rules are never enforced consistently. The airlines are suffering financially and often they will use any excuse to get more money out of passengers. This is why it is important you know the luggage allowances and stay within them. If you don’t, you have no-one else but yourself to blame if you get charged.

Frequent travelers most especially should try to get scales for home use. If you have weighed your luggage at home and the scales at the airport check-in show a big difference that will cost you money, you should re-pack your items and reweigh your luggage to double check.

Having to pay excess baggage charges can be expensive and could ruin your holiday. It is easy enough to avoid these charges: you just need to get your information from the airline and plan ahead.