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Airline Fees for Checking Bags

This article was written by in Travel. 31 comments.


Spurred on by Erica Douglas in response to my thoughts about airline fees for checked baggage, here is a list of the fees charged by airlines for traveling with this particular expected service. I should have done this research before embarking on my previous trip to Arizona. I might not have been able to avoid the fees, but I would have better expected to be charged for a service whose cost was previously rolled into the fare.

The fees below are charged for domestic flights, not international travel. The prices represent the cost to check one or more bags each way. If you’ve booked a round trip flight, you will be charged these fees once for your initial flight and once again for your return flight.

Most airlines offer ways to avoid these fees which usually involve qualifying for second-tier status in their frequent traveler programs.

AirTran: $15 for the first bag, $25 for the second bag, $50 for each additional bag.
Aliaska Airlines: $15 for the first bag, $25 for the second bag, $50 for the third bag, $100 for each additional bag up to a total of seven bags.
American Airlines: $15 for the first bag, $25 for the second bag, $100 each for the third, fourth and fifth bags, $200 for each additional bag.
Continental Airlines: $15 for the first bag, $25 for the second bag, $100 for each additional bag.
Delta: $15 for the first bag, $25 for the second bag, $125 for the third bag, $200 for each additional bag up to a total of ten bags.
jetBlue: No charge for the first bag, $20 for the second bag, $75 for each additional bag.
Northwest: $15 for the first bag, $25 for the second bag, $125 for the third bag, $200 for each additional bag up to a total of ten bags.
Southwest: No charge for the first two bags, $25 for the third bag, $50 for each additional bag up to a total of nine bags.
United Airlines: $15 for the first bag, $25 for the second bag if you pay online; $5 extra if you pay at the airport.
US Aiwrways: $15 for the first bag, $25 for the second bag, $100 for each additional bag up to a total of nine bags. If you pay at the airport, the fees are $20 for the first bag, $30 for the second bag.
Virgin America: $15 for each bag up to a total of ten bags.

Are there any major airlines missing from this list? Let me know in the comments and I will update this article.

Updated February 6, 2012 and originally published May 14, 2009. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar melane nelson

Not a major airline, but nice to add to the list anyway.

Allegiant Airlines, $15 for first checked bag, $25 for second checked bag. These apply only if purchased at time of booking. Otherwise, it is $25 for first checked bag and $35 for second checked bag; additional higher fees for 3 or more bags. Bags that are “gate-checked” are $35.

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avatar Jason H

Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air has baggage fees of $15 for first, $25 for second, and $50 for third. Also until the end of the year they have a guarantee. From their website: “if your baggage is not at the baggage claim within 25 minutes of your plane parking at the gate, you’re entitled to a certificate for either a discount code for $25 off a future Alaska or Horizon flight or 2,500 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan bonus miles”

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avatar Olivia

Thanks for this list! This is one of the main reasons why I try to always fly Southwest. They also have less fees all around than other airlines and you get to choose where you sit on a first come first serve basis. I love Southwest!

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avatar Amber

US Airways. $15 for the first bag until June 1, I believe, when it jumps to $17. $25 and $27 for the second and on up but I never check more than one so I’m not certain.

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avatar Baker

Awesome list. This would be a great resource for people to check with before they book. These fees can sneak up on you sometimes.

We personally love flying Southwest and I’m glad they don’t charge for the first two bags. I honestly feel they do a great job all-around!

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avatar Enrique S

On our recent vacation, we carried on all of our bags. It was the first time doing so, and it worked out fine. We flew on JetBlue, and were each allowed a carryon and a smaller bag. Not checking your luggage has many advantages (no lost bags being one of them), and brings another dimension to packing. We definitely brought less stuff than usual, and still had items that weren’t even used.

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avatar Kelly

You can find details about US Airways here: http://www.usairways.com/awa/Content/traveltools/baggage/baggagepolicies.aspx

They may be the worst of the bunch since they will start charging a $5 fee if you don’t prepay online for your bags. Yes, you read that right!
With US Airways you can NOT avoid the fees by being a frequent flier member, only if you are a preferred member (meaning you spend a LOT of time flying).

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avatar Erica Douglass

Hi Flexo,

Thanks! I typically fly Southwest, but it’s good to see the other airlines. Southwest isn’t the most comfortable for long-term flights. Used to fly America West (now US Air) often enough to get the free tickets, but since they became US Air their flights have become far more expensive than Southwest.

Southwest tip: Check in online EXACTLY 24 hours (to the minute!) for your flight to get the highest A number boarding pass. I set a reminder on my phone for this. You can check in online even if you don’t have a printer; just check in 24 hours ahead, then reprint your boarding pass at the airport.

-Erica

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,365 (Platinum)

Thanks for the updates! I added in Alaska Airlines and U.S. Airways.

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avatar Ron

I have started sending my bags ahead to my hotel via FedEx. Then I take a few items in a carry on and life is GOOD. I pack light anyway.

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avatar Eric

I hate to jinx Southwest, but I am SO GLAD they’re the major airline in my airport hub. They did good with their oil hedges and I hope they stay that way!

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avatar SavingDiva

Before airlines started charging for checked luggage, I used to overpack. In order to save $25 (I usually fly Northwest or United), I have started packing in a carry-on for up to week long trips. While it requires some planning, I only miss my full size products! :)

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