Nothing can strike fear into an air traveler’s confused heart like an airline’s baggage policy. Most airlines try to tell us how straightforward their bag policy is, and yet a lot of people get surprised by fees every time they fly. We want to share what we’ve learned – the good, the bad and the confusing. Let’s just say that not every airline approaches baggage in the same way. We want to shed some light. Let’s do this.

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Southwest Charges No Fees at All

Not all airlines are in the business of complicating your baggage situation. But it’s a very short list of airlines that don’t charge for bags. In fact, there’s just one. Southwest is the only airline to not charge for bags at all. There are rules to follow, however.

CHECKED: Each bag must be 50 pounds or less and be 62” or less (length + width + height). Overweight items up to 80” will be accepted for a fee of $75.

CARRYON: You are limited to one bag and one personal item per person. Your carryon bag should be 10 x 16 x 24” or less. If your carryon does not meet the size requirements, you will need to check it at the gate.

The Lowest Bag Fees and Best Value

A few airlines get high marks from us for keeping bag fees fairly low. Alaska, America, Delta, and Hawaiian are all in this “best of the rest” category. You can’t do better than this if you like to choose your seat which Southwest doesn’t allow you to do. These airlines also generally offer a few more basic amenities (food service and outlets are also not on the menu with Southwest).

Alaska Airlines Bag Policies

CHECKED: Alaska charges $30 for your first checked bag, and $40 for the second. Each bag must be 50 lbs. or less and be 62” or less (length + width + height). Overweight items will be accepted for a fee of $100 and must be no more than 51-100 pounds and 63-115”.

CARRYON: You are limited to one bag and one personal item per person. Your carryon bag should be 22” x 14” x 9” (or 45 linear inches total), including wheels and handles. Your personal item should be able to fit under the seat in front of you.

American Airlines Bag Policies

CHECKED: You can check up to 10 bags when flying on domestic, transatlantic or transpacific routes. You can check up to 5 bags if you’re traveling to or through Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. American charges $30 for your first checked bag, and $40 for the second.

In all regions except to/from Australia and New Zealand, your checked bags must be 50 lbs. or less and must total 62” or less when you add the total outside dimensions of each bag, length + width + height.

When traveling to or from Australia and/or New Zealand, your bags can weigh up to 70 lbs. each.

CARRYON: You are limited to one bag and one personal item per person. Your carryon bag should be 22” x 14” x 9”, including wheels and handles. If your carryon does not meet the size requirements, you will need to check it at the gate. Your personal item should be able to fi under the seat in front of you.

Delta Airlines Bag Policies

CHECKED: Delta charges $30 for your first checked bag, and $40 for the second. Each bag must be 50 pounds or less and be 62” or less (length + width + height). Overweight items will be accepted for a fee of $100 for bags 51-70 lbs. and $200 for bags 71-100 lbs.

CARRYON: You are limited to one bag and one personal item per person. Your carryon bag should be 22” x 14” x 9” (or 45 linear inches total), including wheels and handles. Your personal item should be able to fit under the seat in front of you.

Hawaiian Airlines Bag Policies

CHECKED: Hawaiian charges $30 for your first checked bag, and $40 for the second between the islands and North America. Each bag must be 50 pounds or less and be 62” or less (length + width + height). Overweight items will be accepted for a fee of $100 for bags 51-70 lbs. and $200 for bags 71-100 lbs.

Travelers within the islands are charged $25 for your first checked bag, and $35 for the second. Travelers to international destinations from Hawaii can check up to two bags for free.

CARRYON: You are limited to one bag and one personal item per person. Your carryon bag should be 22” x 14” x 9” (or 45 linear inches total), including wheels and handles. Your personal item should be able to fit under the seat in front of you.

You’ll Pay a Little More

Both Jetblue and United have a more complicated bag fees schedule, but adhere to basically the same policy as the aforementioned airlines for carryon.

Jetblue Airlines Bag Policies

CHECKED: If you fly Blue Basic or Blue within the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean, Jetblue charges $35 for your first checked bag, and $45 for the second.

If you fly Blue Basic or Blue between the U.S. and the U.K., Jetblue charges $65 for your first checked bag, and $105 for the second.

For all destinations, Jetblue charges $150 each for 3 or more additional bags. Overweight items will be accepted for a fee of $150 for bags 51-70 lbs. and $150 for bags 71-99 lbs (except for on flights to the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Peru or the Port of Spain).

CARRYON: If you fly Blue Basic, a carryon bag is not allowed. A personal item is permitted and should be able to fit under the seat in front of you. Exceptions will be made for the following travelers: customers traveling to and from London, active U.S. military, unaccompanied minors, and customers combining a Blue Basic fare with an Even More Space seat (on all legs, if connecting).

If you fly Blue, you are limited to one bag and one personal item per person. Your carryon bag should be 22” x 14” x 9” (or 45 linear inches total), including wheels and handles. Your personal item should be able to fit under the seat in front of you.

United Airlines Bag Policies

CHECKED: United makes it tricky to know exactly how much you’ll pay for your checked bags before you buy, but offer an online tool you can use to find out. Both Basic Economy and Economy tickets have the same checked bag policy. United strongly encourages passengers to pre-pay for checked baggage (up to 9 bags) at the time of booking.

Each bag must be 50 pounds or less and be 62” or less (length + width + height). Overweight items will be accepted for a fee of $100 for bags 51-70 lbs. and $200 for bags 71-100 lbs.

CARRYON: If you fly Basic Economy, a carryon bag is not allowed. A personal item is permitted and should be able to fit under the seat in front of you.

If you fly Economy, you are limited to one bag and one personal item per person. Your carryon bag should be 22” x 14” x 9” (or 45 linear inches total), including wheels and handles. Your personal item should be able to fit under the seat in front of you. If your items do not meet the size limitations you may have to check them to your final destination, and additional charges may apply.

Spirit and Frontier – Tread Carefully!

These low cost airlines offer rock bottom prices, but if you underestimate your baggage needs, you could find yourself paying through the nose on your travel day. Best to plan ahead and be careful to pay for your bags at the time of booking. For both airlines, the longer you wait – the more you’ll pay! Buy at the time of booking or online for the best fares. The prices go up if you pay at the ticket counter at the airport. And if you wait until you get to the gate? Fuggetaboutit. You’ll pay through the nose.

Frontier Airlines Bag Policies

CHECKED: Each bag must be 50 pounds or less and be 62” or less (length + width + height). Overweight items will be accepted for a fee of $75 for bags 51-99 lbs. Use Frontier’s baggage tool to get the specific rate for your route.

At Booking
1st bag $34-$37, 2nd bag $39-$50, 3+ bags $85

Online (up to 24 hours before departure)
1st bag $39-$45, 2nd bag $45-$50, 3+ bags $85

Via Call Center
1st bag $55, 2nd bag $55, 3+ bags $95

Web Check-in
1st bag $40-$46, 2nd bag $55, 3+ bags $90

Airport Ticket Counter
1st bag, $55, 2nd bag $55, 3+ bags $95

At Gate
$60 (for bags exceeding carryon size limits)

CARRYON: You are limited to one personal item per person. If you pay for a carryon bag, it should be 24” x 16” x 10”, including wheels and handles. Your personal item should be able to fit under the seat in front of you and should be 18” H, 14”W, and 8” D or less. If your items do not meet the size limitations you may have to check them to your final destination, and additional charges may apply.

At Booking
$37-$39

Online (up to 24 hours before departure)
$40-$42

Via Call Center
$55

Web Check-in
$43

Airport Ticket Counter
$55

At Gate
$60 (for bags exceeding carryon size limits)

Spirit Airlines Bag Policies

CHECKED: Each bag must be 40 pounds or less and be 62” or less (length + width + height). Overweight items will be accepted for a fee of $50 for bags 41-50 lbs, and $75 for bags 51-100 lbs. Spirit also offers a baggage fee tool to access the most accurate information.

At Booking
Approximate: 1st bag $23-$32, 2nd bag $33-$42, 3+ bags $78-87

Web Check-in
Approximate: 1st bag $33-$42

Airport Ticket Counter
Approximate: 1st bag, $52-65

At Gate
Approximate: 1st bag, $52-65

CARRYON: You are limited to one personal item per person. If you pay for a carryon bag, it should be 22” x 18” x 10”, including wheels and handles. Your personal item should be able to fit under the seat in front of you and should be 18” H, 14” W, and 8” D or less. If your items do not meet the size limitations you may have to check them to your final destination, and additional charges may apply.

At Booking
$28-$37

Web Check-in
$36-$45

Airport Ticket Counter
$55-$65

At Gate
$55-$65

That’s the whole enchilada! Keep in mind that these guidelines should not substitute for the airline’s published information (which, truth be told, can sometimes change). For that reason, we always recommend travelers double-check the policies for their flight at time of booking. You can also reference our help section or reach out to us at help@cheapair.com. We’re here to help! And as always, happy travels!

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