Luggage tax is getting ridiculous and complicated

I'm finished packing more than 12 hours before I leave for Papua New Guinea! Of course, I probably have 8-10 hours of work to do before I go, but it's still a record to be packed up so early. I'm checking:

> (2) 50 lb checked bag of camera equipment (1) 40 lb checked bag of dive gear, wetsuit, clothing and toiletries

> (1) 35 lb backpack of camera and computer equipment (1) 20 lb "personal item" of camera gear

Grand total: 200 lb!

I hope I don't get screwed over by the airlines. I packed 3 checked items because it is so much cheaper these days. My dad upgraded me to first class for the SFO to LAX leg of the trip in order to increase my chances of not getting screwed over for having so much gear; hopefully they'll check me all the way through so I don't have to try to get 3 bags to Fiji and then to Port Moresby.

There's a huge difference checking 3 x 50 lb bags vs checking 2 x 70 lb bags. On United to most international destinations, a 51-70 lb bag is an extra $150 each way. A 71-100 lb bag lands you a $350 fee. A 3rd bag of any weight costs $200, plus overweight charges. So a 3rd 71lb bag would cost $200 + $150 = $350![^1]

At least United gives you 2 free bags on international travel to Asia. First class / Premier Executive travelers (that's not me) get 2 free 70 lb bags on travel to Asia. That's a savings of $300 each way if you check 2 x 51-70 lb bags (2 x $150 overweight charges)!

If I knew I were going to have to check 2 overweight bags, I might simply take a flight to Europe or Asia to visit some friends beforehand if the miles would push me into the next mileage bucket. It would cost about the same amount of money. Ridiculous.

[^1]: Useful links: [United international oversized, overweight and excess baggage](http://www.united.com/page/article/0,6722,52909,00.html) and [United international checked baggage](http://www.united.com/page/article/0,6867,52482,00.html?navSource=SidebarPromo&linkTitle=UPDATED%3A+International+checked+baggage+policy&pos=1&date=2009/11/06&time=9).