In the first half of 2012, U.S. airlines raked in $1.7 billion in baggage fees, the largest amount ever collected by the industry in a six-month period. But, with a little know-how and some planning ahead, you can beat 'em.
First off, you're right that you can often save money by buying "split" fares and you're very wise not to try to make a connection on the same day of travel, in case your first leg is delayed or canceled.
If you have 60 pounds in one bag, and then take 15 pounds out and put it in another bag and both of those bags are going on a plane, you are still taking 60 pounds onto a plane... right? Not according to American Airlines.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) is investigating a number of airlines because they are not reporting fees prominently on their Web pages as required by a new rule that took effect on August 23 this year.