Southwest Baggage Fees, Policies, & FAQs In 2019

by Shelli

Southwest Airlines is unlike any other, especially when it comes to their baggage policy. One of the reasons Southwest Airlines has a cult following of raving fans is that the airline keeps things simple. In the case of Southwest baggage fees, simple and cheap. In fact, when comparing all airlines, Southwest Airlines baggage fee policy is the least expensive. No matter which fare class you book, your first two checked bags are free. Any extra fees are $75 per item.

That’s as simple as it gets!

Many travelers find themselves doubting that Southwest fares can be so low and yet include checked bags for free. Let’s dig in and take a closer look at Southwest baggage fee policies, both for checked bags and carry-on bags.

Southwest Airlines Checked Baggage Policy

Southwest is the only airline that provides two checked bags for free. No matter which fare you purchase, two bags fly free.

  • 1st checked bag: free
  • 2nd checked bag: free
  • 3rd or more checked bags: $75 per item

The maximum weight for all checked bags is 50 lbs. The maximum size for all checked bags is 62 inches (length+width+height). Overweight and/or oversized checked baggage incur fees.

Checked Bags: Extra Fees

  • Overweight Fee: $75
  • Oversized Fee: $75

Two Baggage Tips to Help You Avoid Baggage Fees

  • Insider Tip: Military traveling on active duty or permanent change of station orders do not pay extra checked baggage fees. There is also no fee for overweight or oversized bags.
  • Insider Tip: Are you traveling on Southwest Airlines with a stroller? Southwest allows strollers to be checked free of charge at the curb, ticket counter, or gate.

Want to avoid baggage fees when you have to pay them? Use these credit cards!

Southwest Carry-On Baggage Policy

Southwest allows each passenger to carry on one personal item and one bag free of charges. There are, however, size restrictions for these free carry-on items.

Size Restrictions: Standard bag: 10” x 16” x 24 “

Are There Credit Cards That Reimburse You For Checked Bag Fees? Yes!

Though Southwest allows two checked bags free, there still may be times you will pay for baggage. When that happens, using these cards below offsets the cost.

Chase Sapphire Reserve: offers a $300 travel credit

AMEX Platinum: offers a $200 airline fee credit  (you must select the airline for your fee credits)

Exceptions to the Southwest Baggage Policy

Southwest has a wide array of Exclusions and Waivers. For instance, there is no charge for overweight or oversized large media camera equipment. Luckily for those of us who are active and prefer to travel with our own equipment, there are some special sports items that fly free.

“Any of the items listed below may be checked in substitution of one piece of the free Checked Baggage allowance for each Passenger at no charge on a one-item-for-one-bag basis. If the item of sporting equipment exceeds 50 pounds in weight or 62 inches in size (outside length plus height plus width), excess weight and size charges may apply.”

  • Archery Equipment
  • Baseball/Softball Equipment
  • Boogie/Knee Board
  • Bowling Bag
  • Bicycles (hard-sided bicycle box falling within the 62″/50lb limits)
  • Fishing Rod & Tackle Box (limited to 91″ in length, 3″ diameter and counts as ONE item even if packed separately)
  • Golf Bag (hard-sided golf bag, excess size charges waived; excess weight charges may apply)
  • Hockey/Lacrosse Sticks (up to two bags allowed to count as ONE item, even if packed separately)
  • Kiteboard
  • Knives, Dress Sabers, Swords (checked bags only)
  • Parachutes carry-on or checked bag and may not be worn in flight)
  • Scuba Equipment (air tanks must be empty)
  • Skateboard (carry-on or checked)
  • Snow Ski Equipment (up to 2 bags allowed to count as ONE item, even if packed separately, excess size charges waived; excess weight charges may apply)
  • Water Ski Equipment (excess size charges waived; excess weight charges may apply)

Besides saving money with Southwest’s generous two bags free policy, I also enjoy getting the best rates possible on my hotel rooms. Here’s how I do that!

Final Thoughts

By giving passengers two checked bags free of charge, Southwest Airlines differentiates itself from all the other airlines. The money travelers save by not having to pay checked baggage fees adds up. Keeping things simple keeps travelers both happy and loyal to Southwest Airlines.

Southwest Airlines Baggage Fees Policy FAQs

Can I Pre-pay for Baggage?

Southwest Airlines passengers can not pre-pay for luggage. Passengers must pay at the airport ticket counter.

Are There Credit Cards That Reimburse Me For Checked Bag Fees?

Yes. If you are paying for checked baggage you can use one of the cards mentioned above to offset the cost.

Do I Have To Pay To Check Bags on Southwest?

Yes and No. The first two checked bags on Southwest Airlines are free of charge. After that, for each checked item the fee is $75.

Are There Any Exceptions to the Southwest Baggage Policy?

Yes. Southwest has a wide range of what they title Exclusions & Waivers. For other baggage fees related to special luggage (sporting equipment, musical instruments, etc.) please refer to Southwest Airlines’ policy.

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