Most airlines these days are charging passengers for checked luggage, regardless of weight. This means everyone is now trying to cram clothes and gear for a two-week vacation into a carry-on and a purse or a small backpack, both of which are usually heavier than the person carrying them. Don't be fooled -- flight attendants are onto passengers who try to bring too much stuff into the cabin, and they'll make you check it, even as you try to board.
Simply stick to the guidelines and you'll be golden. A small carry-on suitcase that's light enough for you -- yes, you -- to lift up into the overhead bin is fine. One additional bag, like a purse or a laptop bag (but not both), is also allowed. It should fit under the seat in front of you and leave enough room for your feet.
Not only do these rules follow the official guidelines, but it will make you far comfier on your flight if you don't have a huge bag crammed in at your feet, a shopping bag tucked in by your hip, and a sore shoulder from lifting your overstuffed carry-on into the overhead bin.
There is, however, a sly way to get around that checked-baggage fee. Read on to find out how.