The weight concept and the piece concept are two basic notions you need to be familiar with if you are to fully understand the baggage limitations associated to each airfare. Depending on the destination, an airline can apply one concept or the other.
- Weight concept: airlines express your maximum baggage allowance in kilos. Some companies limit the number of pieces of baggage you can transport using that limit (just the one piece of luggage of up to X kilos or several pieces that cannot weight more than X kilos). Other airlines don’t. Excess baggage is charged by the kilo.
- Piece concept. Very common in flights from Brazil to destinations other than South America. It establishes a limit based in the number of pieces of baggage, usually two, and a maximum weight per piece of baggage. In case of excess baggage, you pay a fixed amount for each additional piece of baggage – it doesn’t matter its size or its weight for as long as it doesn’t go beyond the maximum weight allowed.
Pay attention as regardless of the concept applied by the airline, there is usually a maximum weight limit for each item of baggage. Above that limit, the airline can refuse to transport the suitcase, even if you are willing to pay for it. Or you might be allowed to send the baggage paying an additional charge, but the suitcase might not fly on the same aircraft as yourself – might be handled as cargo. The current trend is a maximum limit of 32 kg, specially in Europe due to collective agreements governing the work of airport handling workers.
Excess baggage: it is charged for each leg flown. You pay on the way out and pay on the way in, depending on the weight of the baggage you check in for each leg of your trip.
A recent trend is to allow pre-payment of your excess baggage, at a discount. Either through the company’s website or at the airline previous to travel.
N.B.: limits and charges are changing constantly due to the recent shifts in petrol prices.