Pack wisely: Airlines continue to increase baggage fees. Photo: LatinFlyer.com

By Mark Chesnut

There has never been more reason to pack light. Airlines have gradually been raising the fees they charge for checked bags — in the case of Spirit Airlines, which is upping the charge for carry-ons starting Nov. 6. Passengers will have to pay $100 to register an overhead carry-on at the gate.

Here is the latest information about what the biggest carriers are charging, moving forward (some of these new fees depend on when you purchased your ticket; check with your airline for details):

American Airlines: Passengers flying within the United States, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico pay $25 for the first checked bag. For U.S. and Canada travel, the cost is $35 for the second and $150 for any additional pieces. Flights from the United States to Europe have a first-bag-free allowance.

Delta Air Lines: Domestic U.S. travelers, as well as people flying between Canada and the United States and the Caribbean and Bermuda, will pay $25 for the first checked bag; travelers sticking within the United States and Canada will pay $35 for the second, while those heading to or from the Caribbean and Bermuda will fork over $40. The first bag is free on all other international flights.

United Airlines: In May, United revised its baggage policies. The carrier now charges $25 for checked bags traveling to and from (and within) the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico the U.S. Virgin Islands and other parts of the Caribbean. Second bag fees start at $35 and run as much as $100 for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India.

US Airways: Passengers flying within or between the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean, Bermuda and South America (except Brazil) will pay $25 for the first checked bag and $35 for the second. The first bag flies free on the company’s transatlantic, Brazil and transpacific flights (except Hawaii). If you bought your ticket before July 1, the airline charges $55 for the second bag to or from Europe; if you bought it after that date, the fee is $70.

How to avoid fees: Flying in first or business class, holding elite frequent flyer status or using some airline-issued credit cards will allow you to avoid at least some baggage fees. Shop around.

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Mark Chesnut is a travel writer, editor and publisher of LatinFlyer.com, which focuses on travel to Latin America. He is not very good at folding.

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