How to Make Sure Your Bag is Checked for Free

Jay, Rachel and I have all gone on separate trips recently. Each time, the logistics of how we booked/paid for the flights was different. With a little perseverence we were able to make sure everyone got their 1st bag checked for free. Here are the details.

1. I booked my flight online using my miles – the MileagePlus number of the traveler (me) matched that of the account the miles came from (mine). I paid the taxes and fees with our household Explorer card, which is also linked to my MileagePlus account. When I checked in online, the system processed my 1st bag for free, both ways. Savings: $50

2. The next time I flew, I booked my flight online using our son’s miles (hey – we paid for them) – the MileagePlus number of the traveler (me) did NOT match that of the account the miles came from (Steve’s). I paid the taxes and fees with our household Explorer card, which is linked to my MileagePlus number. When I checked in online, the system wanted to charge me $25 for my bag. So, I checked in w/o specifying any bags. When I got to the airport I told the United person that I’d booked with my Explorer card but the online system can’t process the bag for free because of the mismatch in MileagePlus account numbers. I showed her my credit card and she checked my bag for free. Ditto on the way back. Savings: $50

3. I booked Jay’s flight online and paid with our household Explorer card instead of using miles – the MileagePlus number of the traveler (Jay) did NOT match the one linked to the credit card we paid with. When it was time to check in online, the system wanted to charge  $25 for his bag. So, like 2) above, he checked in w/o specifying any bags. When he got to the airport he told the United person that he’d booked with our Explorer card but the online system can’t process the bag for free because of the mismatch in MileagePlus account numbers. He showed her the credit card and she checked his bag for free. Ditto on the way back. Savings: $50

4. I booked Rachel’s flight online and paid with our household Explorer card instead of using miles – the MileagePlus number of the traveler (Rachel) did NOT match the one linked to the credit card we paid with. When it was time to check in online, the system wanted to charge $25 for her bag. So, like 2 and 3) above, she checked in w/o specifying any bags. When she got to the airport she told the United person that the flight had been booked with her parents’ Explorer card but the online system can’t process the bag for free because of the mismatch in MileagePlus account numbers. The United person said she needed to see the credit card. Anticipating this, I had photocopied the card and sent it with Rachel. They checked her bag for free. Ditto on the way back. Savings: $50

Total savings in 3 months: $200


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  1. Pingback: MileagePlus Mama Content | How I Saved Money Today

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