Smart Consumer: The vest way to escape those baggage charges
If you've been jetting off to sunnier climes this summer, you may have had the smile wiped off your face before you even boarded the plane.
The punitive charges introduced by airlines for exceeding the weight allowance of your carry-on luggage would cause the happiest flier to frown.
If your bag weighed more than 10kg or was bigger than the 55cm x 40cm x 20cm allowed by Aer Lingus and Ryanair, chances are you had to put it in the hold, and had to pay the price.
Bag check-in at the airport costs €20 each way with Aer Lingus and would have cost you a whopping €40 each way with Ryanair during July and August.
So how do you make the most of your free carry-on bag allowance?
A travel vest or jacket with multiple pockets will allow you to bring items you didn't manage to fit in the single bag you're allowed to bring on board. And as there is no charge based on an individual's weight (not yet anyway), it won't cost you an extra cent. In fact it means you are literally pocketing the cost of flying with luggage.
I found what I was looking for in The Great Outdoors: a Columbia 'Voyager Vest'. With 10 pockets on the front, two inside and one big pocket spanning the width of the back, that gave me 13 pockets for extra carry-on. I got packing.
My wallet, passport, keys, phone, camera, iPod, two books, sunglasses and reading glasses, toothbrush, four bottles of potions and lotions, small make-up bag, tissues and cleaning wipes, three T-shirts and one pair of shorts all fitted in the front and inside pockets.
In addition, in the large back pocket I packed a pair of linen trousers, a dress, a long-sleeved blouse, underwear, a sarong and a hat.
Unbelievably, the whole lot weighed 4kg!
If you want to bring a portable DVD player for the kids, it would easily fit in the back pocket, while an iPad only takes up half the pocket's space.
You could use your multi-pocketed jacket to avoid having to pay extra because your hand-bag or snacks and toys for the kids won't fit in your carry-on bag. Or stuff it with books to ensure that your carry-on bag never gets too heavy to be banished to the hold.
And if you really want to go for broke, buy a money belt, neck pouch, a 'hidden pocket' or even a leg stash to create extra space. Or use a vacuum bag to maximise space in larger pockets.
Admittedly with my pockets packed to capacity I looked daft, but what the hell! If you want to be a canny cheater of baggage charges, it's the way to go.