Avoid overweight baggage fees with entry-level Elite status

Some people frown on the low level elite status; However, if you’re a heavy packer – or tend to pay overweight baggage fees – United Premier Silver and Delta Silver Medallion status is a game-changer.

As a digital nomad and full-time traveler for the past three years, I have paid my fair share of in-flight checked baggage fees. However, my entry-level United Silver status saved me from paying additional checked baggage fees for my overweight luggage – and I have come to appreciate it immensely.

If you often struggle with a heavy bag and are tired of packing and repackaging your things at the check-in counter, consider elite status with one of these two airlines as you can save a lot of money.

You can probably avoid overweight baggage charges by using the United Premier Silver and Delta Silver Medallion checked baggage benefits to your advantage.

United Premier Silver: free baggage allowance of 70 pounds

An excellent advantage of United Airlines elite status is the ability to bring free checked baggage up to £ 70. Not only do you get free checked baggage, but you also receive an allowance for overweight baggage, as many airlines cap standard baggage at a weight limit of 50 pounds.

For example, as a non-elite flying economy class from New York to Los Angeles, you will pay $ 35 for the first checked baggage (up to 50 pounds) and an additional $ 100 if your baggage weighs between 51 and 70 pounds. As a United Silver member, you would save $ 135 on that ticket, or $ 270 round trip – United Airlines overweight charges can sting.

If you are traveling abroad, the first piece of luggage is often free; however, again, you will have to pay for any weight over 50 pounds. For example, if you are a general member traveling from the United States to Europe, you will get the first piece of baggage free, but you will have to pay $ 200 for a bag weighing between 51 and 70 pounds. As an Elite Silver you would save $ 400 round trip.

Disadvantage: only good on United flights

One downside is that the allowance only applies to flights on United and United Express. One of United’s strengths is its membership in the huge Star Alliance Network. Unfortunately, the baggage allowance benefits that come with elite status do not apply to other carriers.

Other ways to receive baggage allowance on United

  • Hold Gold status with Star Alliance: in particular, this status only provides free checked baggage up to 50 pounds. If you are looking for overweight baggage allowance, then focus your efforts on United Silver status.

  • Active military personnel are entitled to a free baggage allowance whether they are traveling for work or leisure. For travel on military order, five free bags weighing 100 pounds are permitted. When traveling for pleasure in economy class, the baggage allowance is three bags of 70 pounds. Dependents are also exempt from charges when flying on the same reservation.

Delta Silver Medallion: free baggage allowance

You can avoid the Delta overweight baggage fees with its entry level Silver medallion status, because the elites get a nice baggage allowance. On flights within the United States and Canada, the Silver Elite receive a free 70-pound bag. On flights to all other international destinations, you receive two 50-pound bags free of charge. Baggage benefits granted to Medallion members are also valid for a maximum of eight companions traveling on the reservation. Delta also made it easier for travelers to achieve status in 2021 for the following year.

On an economy flight to the United States and Canada, it costs $ 30 to check in your first bag under 50 pounds. If your bag weighs between 51 and 70 pounds, you’ll pay $ 100. Using the previous example of a flight from New York to Los Angeles by a non-elite with luggage over 50 pounds, you would pay $ 130 or $ 260 round trip. If you are an elite Delta Silver in the same situation, you will not pay anything.

While Delta Silver status does not offer a free overweight allowance on international flights, you receive a second 50-pound bag for free. If you have Delta Silver status and are a heavy packer – or just going on a long trip – take the opportunity to pack two bags weighing 50 pounds. Without status, you would pay $ 100 for the second bag, or $ 200 on a round-trip flight.

Bonus: Delta partners are eligible for the additional baggage benefit

Unlike United, which offers the benefit only on United and United Express flights, Delta offers the benefit to partner airlines including China Southern, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia or any SkyTeam carrier.

Nerdy tip: The benefit also extends to up to eight travelers traveling on the elite member’s reservation. However, companions cannot use this benefit on flights departing from Paris or Amsterdam.

Other Ways to Avoid Delta Overweight Baggage Fees

  • SkyTeam Elite and Elite Plus members benefit from the baggage allowance stated above.

    • American Express Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Card.

    • American Express Delta SkyMiles® Gold Card.

    • American Express Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Card.

    • American Express Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business Card.

    • Delta SkyMiles® American Express Platinum Business Card.

    • American Express Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business Card.

  • Like United, serving members receive free checked baggage when traveling on official or personal travel. During a flight on military order, five free pieces of luggage weighing 100 pounds each are allowed. When traveling for personal reasons, two 50-pound bags are allowed.

Tip: American Airlines Gold Status Allowance Won’t Help With Heavy Baggage

Elite Status in United and Delta May Help Avoid Overweight Baggage Fees

In a nutshell, if you are a heavy packer and travel on paid tickets a lot, consider aiming for elite status with United or Delta as you will save a lot on overweight baggage fees. In 2021, it is easier than usual to achieve elite status with both airlines due to customer-focused changes carriers made in response to the pandemic.

If achieving elite status isn’t an option for you, a co-branded credit card offering free checked baggage is also an option to consider.

Information relating to United Club business card℠ was collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

How to Maximize Your Rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our choices for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those that are best suited:


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