Airlines have charged fees for excess baggage for decades, and the policy makes sense. An airplane required to carry the additional weight and bulk of a few extra bags burns more fuel per person, meaning it's more expensive to fly a handful of overpacking tourists the same distance as a crowd of light-traveling businesspeople.
But as the airline industry took an economic nosedive in the early 2000s, baggage fees became a quick fix to boost profits. By 2010, most major airlines charged $50 for one checked bag, and some raised fees to $70 or more for an additional bag [source: Hipmunk].
The budget-conscious traveler isn't out of luck, though. In fact, this is an expense that's relatively easy to avoid for many trips. Most airlines do not charge for carry-on luggage: bags that fit within the cabin's overhead bins or under the seats. If you can pack everything you need for your trip into one or two carry-on bags, you'll avoid this fee -- and the need to stop by baggage claim to pick up your things after you deplane. Check the dimensions of your bag against the dimensions listed on your airline's Web site before you pack, and you'll be well ahead of the baggage-fee game when you reach the airport.