Avoid Bag Fees by Becoming a 'Mobile Ad'

Participants in soon-to-launch program get free checked bags.

— -- Frequent fliers looking to save a few bucks on bag fees are in luck, but there's a catch.

Travelers have to be willing to turn their checked luggage into a sort of billboard. In turn, the company behind the ad placement will pay the checked bag fees. Here's how it works:

  • Be one of the first 1 million people to sign up on the Orion Travel Tech site for the program;
  • In February, receive one set of "two piece, high gloss, all plastic, four wheel trolley luggage -- Sizes 21 inch carry-on and a 25 inch expandable to 28 inch”;
  • At the same time, you'll get a gift card with a round-trip baggage fee of $50 only to be used at the airline's ticket counter when you check your luggage. It will correspond, via a UPC code, to the 25-inch luggage of the two-piece set;
  • Lifetime membership in the program. When you’re ready to travel again, email the company and the gift card will be reloaded;
  • You can travel as much as you want during the year;
  • The whole family can sign up.
  • Orion Travel Tech claims to be the first company to personalize its luggage with the "interchangeable graphic skin" of their choice. Founder Gary German told ABC News he came up with the idea because he and his family travel extensively and the bag fees were adding up.

    German said he thought "there had to be a better way" and came up with this advertiser-driven model. Orion Travel sells the space on the bags to advertisers.

    In a test run at four airports, German said people traveling with the luggage were approached an average of 30 times by others wanting to know more about it.

    The model, he said, works well for all parties. Travelers avoid bag fees and companies get eyeballs on their ads.

    "These bags are traveling through the check-in line, by the TSA, into a Starbucks, on a luggage carousel, to a hotel," German said. "That's a lot of mileage."