If you’re left feeling confused by airline baggage rules and charges which seem to change every time you fly, you’re not alone.

In fact, baffled customers pay out nearly £400 million in excess baggage charges each year. Only recently, Ryanair caught customers out by changing its baggage policy, allowing only its priority customers to take a 10kg cabin bag.

Travelling can be stressful at the best of times, so to help you avoid unexpected charges and get you to where you’re going quicker, PACK & SEND has put together this handy guide…

Do your research

Luggage weight limits cause chaos for flyers. The amount of luggage you’re allowed will depend on your airline, aircraft and even flight type – with long-haul flights often costing more.

Just because you’ve flown with an airline before doesn’t mean the rules haven’t changed, so always check their website before packing and weigh your bags before heading to the airport. It’ll save you the embarrassing job of re-packing on the terminal floor or handing over extra cash on the day.

Keep it light

It’s not just what’s in your suitcase that adds weight. Your suitcase itself could be the reason you’re pushing the weight limits.

Older suitcases tend to be heavier and investing in a lightweight but protective suitcase could help free-up space and avoid excess charges.

Make sure to measure the suitcase before buying it though, as airlines will have size limits for both carry-on luggage and hold baggage.

Lost baggage

The more baggage you have, the higher the risk of it getting lost on the journey. For every individual piece of luggage, make sure your name and contact details are clearly marked on the outside to make it easier to reunite you with your lost luggage if the worst-case scenario does happen.

It’s also a good idea to pick a distinctive colour or pattern to make baggage reclaim or lost and found less of an ordeal.

Pay ahead

If you know, or are worried, that your hand luggage will exceed your airline’s limit, don’t risk it. Paying to put your luggage in the hold at the time of booking your flight will be much cheaper than at the check-in desk.

If you or a family member travels with everything but the kitchen sink, or you’re taking any large, awkward or fragile items with you, it might be worth using an online “send forward” service. They’ll arrange pick up in advance of your flight, so your luggage will be waiting for you when you arrive at your destination.

Although these services can be expensive, they allow you to plan your holiday budget in advance and ensure your travel experience is stress-free.

Holiday purchases

Like many travellers, you may well find yourself flying home with more than you came with – it may be that you’ve bought a piece of art, an antique, or other holiday purchases, taking you over your airline’s baggage limit.

As an alternative to paying extra airline charges to bring your prized souvenirs home, it may work out safer and more cost-effective to use an international delivery company which offers door-to-door service.

Should you be continuing your travels before flying home, you can even arrange with a courier to store your items and ship them so that they arrive at home when you do.

By Mike Ryan, Chief Executive, PACK & SEND