We've all had that sinking feeling when you finally wrestle your bag onto the airline's scale when checking in - and that counter slowly inches its way towards the maximum daily amount.
And we all have mutual sympathy whenever we see some poor passenger on their hands and knees, rummaging through their bag to take out a shoe or makeup bag just to get it back down to the allowed amount.
Other times, people take drastic measures just so that they don't have to pay the excess baggage fee - the most popular one of them all is layering up their entire wardrobe.
Recently, one Scottish teenager shared a video of his money-conscious dad putting on 15 layers of clothing just so that he doesn't have to pay the excess fee.
But this doesn't always go down well with airport staff. Last year, a British man was barred from boarding a plane in Iceland going home. He was wearing eight pairs of pants and 10 shirts and when he refused to leave the check-in counter the police was called. He ended up being barred again from his second attempt at flying home the next day.
It can also be dangerous - in 2015 another Scotsman passed out on a flight while wearing 12 layers of clothes, causing him to overheat.
But what to do when your bag is overweight without layering?
I studied away from home and every long December holiday I would try to fly with my entire life back home and have had a few moments of rummaging through my bag for all to see, putting on three jackets and stuffing as much as I can into my tiny laptop bag.
But over the years you pick up better ways to deal with a surprise overweight bag. Here are a few tips:
- Put a big backpack or big beach bag in your bag - it doesn't take up weight but when you need to lighten your check-in bag it's the fastest way to make the cut. Even if you already have a carry-on, airline staff normally let you on with a smaller bag. This tip is also great for when you know you will be heading home with a few souvenirs in two.
- You don't have to search hard through your bag for the heavy items - the first thing to take out is your shoes. You can even buy a few snacks at a shop and use the plastic bag to carry your shoes in if you don't have anywhere else to carry it.
- Remember to leave your toiletries when you're flying international - in the moment you might think it's the first thing to take out to decrease your weight but you will end up losing it at security. If they're not too precious and you can buy it at your destination, you can also just chuck it in the bin.
- Spread it around - if you're not flying solo you can also start spreading out the weight between your travel crew.
- Wotif Insider also recommends travelling with a luggage scale - sometimes the airport scale is off and it's is a great way to confirm how much your bag actually weighs.
How much do SA airlines charge for overweight bags?
Sometimes however you just say 'screw it' and fork over that excess baggage fees - but if you opt for this route here's what to expect to pay with each of South Africa's airlines.
Please note: For all airlines, you cannot check-in a bag that weighs more than 32kg - it will then have to be flown as cargo and will incur extra costs.
Bag over 20kg - R330 flat rate per bag.
Bag over 20kg - R250 flat rate per bag.
Domestic flights: Bag over 20kg - R55/kg at the counter and R40/kg online.
Zanzibar flights: Bag over 20kg - R95/kg at the counter and R75/kg online.
Domestic flights: Economy class bags over 23kg - R292.55 flat rate per bag.
International flights: Varies between R1 200 and R2 400 flat rate per bag depending on the country.
Domestic flights: R26/kg plus 15% VAT
International Flights: Varies between R30 and R250 per kilogram depending on the country.