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Baggage Fees on Airlines: Complete list and how to avoid them

by on Sun March 18, 2012 • 13 Comments
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Baggage FeesBaggage fees are among the most unpleasant parts of travel today, in part because they can be hard to decipher and change frequently.  The best way to handle them is to be prepared — know what the baggage fees are and how to avoid them. Below we list primary baggage fees for the major airlines, and a couple of alternatives to avoid the baggage fees.

If you get the right credit card, you can eliminate many of the baggage fees on Delta or United / Continental (see below). Also, a bit of good news is that most international trips get you at least one free checked bag.

  • Baggage fees are per person, and for one way travel. If you have a connection along the way you won’t be charged again.
  • The first airline you check in with each way is the one whose baggage fees will apply. For example, if you have a Delta flight that connects to Alaska Airlines, the Delta baggage fees apply.
  • Information is current as of publication, but please click on the airline links for updated details if the baggage fee is critical to your decision.

Baggage Fees by Airline (U.S.)

Airline1st bag2nd bag3rd bagCredit Card with fee waiver?
AirTran$20$25$50No.
Alaska Airlines$20$20$20-$50No.
Allegiant Air$35$35NANo.
American Airlines$25$35$100Yes -- Citi Executive AAdvantage -- First domestic bag free for you and up to 8 people in your reservation.
Delta Air Lines$25$35$125-$200Yes - 1st bag free for up to 9 people in your reservation via Delta SkyMiles American Express (link). No annual fee the first year.
Frontier Airlines$20$20$50No.
Hawaiian Airlines$15$25$125No.
JetBlueFree$30$75No.
SouthwestFreeFree$50No.
SunCountry$25$35$75No.
United Airlines$25$35$100Yes - 1st bag free for you and a companion in your reservation via United Mileage Plus Explorer (link). No annual fee the first year.


Yes - 1st and 2nd bags free for you and a companion in your reservation via United Mileage Plus Club Card. $395 annual fee.

US Airways$25$35$125No.
Virgin America$25$25$25No.

 

Baggage Fees by Airline (International)

Airline1st Bag2nd Bag3rd bag+Credit Card with fee waiver?
AeroMexicoFree$15VariesNo.
Air CanadaFree$30-$50VariesNo.
Air FranceFree$0-$55VariesNo.
Alaska$20$20VariesNo.
American Airlines$0-$25$0-$60*VariesNo.
British AirwaysFree$50-$60$140No.
Delta Air LinesFree$80 Europe/North Africa, $60 Asia* (extra charge if not paid online)VariesYes - 1st bag free for up to 9 people in your reservation via Delta SkyMiles American Express (link). No annual fee the first year.
FrontierFree$20VariesNo.
JetBlueFree$30VariesNo.
LufthansaFreeFreeVariesNo.
UnitedFree*$100 Europe/Middle East/Africa/India, $70 Asia/South America*VariesYes - 1st bag free for you and a companion in your reservation via United Mileage Plus Explorer (link). No annual fee the first year.


Yes - 1st and 2nd bags free for you and a companion in your reservation via United Mileage Plus Club Card (link -- card waives bag fees on United too). $395 annual fee.

US AirwaysFree$70*VariesNo.
Virgin AtlanticFreeFree$150No.

*Exceptions and notes

  • Air Canada: Canada to / from U.S.: $25 1st bag
  • American: Europe, Caribbean, Mexico, Central America have 2nd bag fee charge — but not clearly listed on AA.com
  • Delta: Canada/Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands: $25 1st bag, $35 2nd; Europe: $60 2nd bag if checked in online, $75 otherwise; Asia/All other intl to/from U.S.: 1st/2nd free;
  • US Airways: Brazil/Israel free 2nd bag. Mexico/Caribbean: Domestic travel fees apply
  • United: Canada, Caribbean: $25 1st bag, $40 2nd bag; Mexico / Central America: free 1st bag, $40 2nd bag. Japan, Brazil, Venezuela to/from mainland U.S. – 1st and 2nd bags free.

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Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

Intro Offer

$0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $95

Annual Fee

Yes

Foreign Transaction Fee Waived

Yes - transfer to United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards, Marriott Rewards, and more

Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

Still confused? Have a question?

Leave a comment below -- we'll reply shortly -- no need to use your real name. Or, use the email form at the top of the page for private advice.

"These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered."

13 thoughts on Baggage Fees on Airlines: Complete list and how to avoid them

  1. shel

    i booked flight on air canada from vancover to loos angeles using united explorer card. will this card alleviate luggage charge

    Reply
  2. Jackie

    For United Mileage Plus card, you can carry the first checked bag for free for international flights but the international flights, the first bag is already free for everyone. Does that mean you can carry the second bag for free for international flights using United Mileage Plus card?

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Jackie – The free first checked bag is intended for the very first checked bag, that is for domestic flights.

      Reply
  3. Irv

    Air Canada changed its checked-bag policy last year. It’s $25/bag if you’re traveling from US to Canada.

    Reply
  4. s2kreno

    Okay, I’m confused. It says United 1st bag is free on international routes but I’m taking an Air Canada flight to Montreal and they say I have to pay United a baggage fee. I hate United — why am I paying a fee when they say international flight have 1st bag free and when Air Canada has no charge?

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @s2kreno – Apologies — we should have listed U.S. as U.S. / Canada as they are treated the same. We’ve made the correction above.

      Reply
  5. Sugar

    Capital One Venture Rewards indicates mileage can be use for any travel expense, can miles earned on Capital Once Venture rewards be use for baggage fees?

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Sugar – Yes they should be as it shows up billed from the airline. Every 100 points = $1 in credit. You apply the credit retroactively to charges on your statement.

      Reply
  6. Guest

    Has US Airways made a change to its baggage fees to/from Israel? My travel agent has informed me that tickets purchased after November 15, will be charged $70 for a second bag. However I can find no confirmation of this on their website or any outside source. Anyone know about this?

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      It’s possible but we see no confirmation either. Competitor United started charging for 2nd bags to Israel earlier this year so they may try to match them.

      Reply

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