Southwest Airlines Baggage Fees & How To Avoid Paying Them!

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Southwest Airlines has the single most clear-cut (and cheapest!) baggage policy of any airline. Thank You, Southwest!

Your first two checked bags are FREE with any fare, and the extra/excess fees are a simple $75 each.

Southwest is one budget airline where you definitely won’t get stuck with hidden baggage fees.

Southwest Carry-On Allowance

1 personal item: FREE
1 standard carry-on bag: FREE

Size Restrictions

  • Personal: 18.5 x 13.5 x 8.5 inches (47 x 34.3 x 22 cm)
  • Standard: 24 x 16 x 10 inches (60 x 40.6 x 25.4 cm)

Lap Infant Carry-On Policy

  • Lap infants are not permitted a carry-on so any items would need to be included in the accompanying adult’s allowance.

Stroller Check Policy

  • Southwest allows strollers and car seats to be checked at the curb, ticket counter, or gate free of charge.

Southwest Checked Baggage Allowance

All checked bags must adhere to a max weight of 50 pounds (23 kg) and must adhere to max linear dimensions of 62 inches 9158 cm).

Southwest is the only Airline that provides TWO FREE CHECKED BAGS for all fares.

1st Bag: FREE
2nd Bag: FREE
3rd+ Bags: $75

Additional / Excess Baggage Fees

Overweight Fee: $75
Oversized Fee: $75

Can I Pre-pay for Baggage?

Southwest Airlines does not allow passengers the ability to pre-pay for luggage.

Unfortunately, this means passengers must pay at the ticketing counter at the airport.

Credit Cards That Reimburse You For Checked Bag Fees

Unlike Spirit Airlines, Southwest has a generous checked bag policy that allows two bags per person. If you are taking a big trip and need additional checked bags, you can use one of the cards below to offset the cost.

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card - This no annual fee card comes with a 20,000 mile welcome bonus (worth $200) once you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months. When you use your card for travel purchases (e.g. baggage fees), use your miles to pay off all, or part of, your statement! This is why we like this card.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card - The "big brother" card to the VentureOne® with a larger 50,000 welcome bonus (worth $500), when you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months.

Exclusions & Waivers

Military traveling on active duty or permanent change of station orders: 3+ bags FREE and no charge for overweight/ oversized bags.

Plus, some special sporting items fly free as well in substitution of one of the free bags (subject to certain restrictions). These items must not exceed 50 pounds or 62 inches otherwise excess weight and size charges may apply.

  • Archery Equipment
  • Baseball/Softball Equipment
  • Boogie/Knee Board
  • Bowing Bag
  • Bicycles
    • hard-sided bicycle box falling w/in 62″/50lb limits
  • Fishing Rod & Tackle Box
    • limited to 91″ in length, 3″ diameter
    • 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
    • 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 (one set of equipment) 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

For other baggage fees related to special luggage (sporting equipment, musical instruments, etc.) please refer to Southwest Airlines’ policy here.


To see more airline baggage fees and policies, click here.


Frequently asked questions

How many bags can you carry on at Southwest?

Flying Southwest, you can bring 1 personal item and 1 standard piece of carry-on. The personal item must not exceed 13.5 x 8.5 x 18.5 inches and the carry-on item 24 x 16 x 10 inches. Southwest does not publish any weight restrictions for carry-on items but you should be able to to lift this into the overhead compartment unassisted.

Can I have a backpack and a carry on Southwest?

You can take a backpack and a carry-on item on Southwest, provided that one of the items does not exceed 13.5 x 8.5 x 18.5 inches and the other item 24 x 16 x 10 inches.

Is checked baggage free on Southwest?

Checked baggage is free on Southwest and they are the only airline to allow 2 bags for all fare types. Checked bags must adhere to a max weight of 50 pounds and max linear dimensions of 62 inches. Passengers can book 3+ bags for $75 a piece.

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She caught the travel bug just after high school when her grandmother took her on a two-week, whirlwind trip around Europe. That was that - she's been gallivanting around the globe ever since (26 countries & counting)!

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53 comments

  1. Thomas Vetter March 8, 2019

    Great service with free baggage, but what about seating – does one have to pay for any seating – special or normal? Thanks, Tom

    Reply

  2. Ashlea Higgins May 12, 2019

    Is it two free checked bags per person?

    Reply

    • Christine Krzyszton May 12, 2019

      Hi Ashlea. Yes, it is two free bags per ticket purchased. Thanks for your question.

      Reply

  3. Emily Mueller May 25, 2019

    How strict is Southwest on the measurements of checked bags? I have a suitcase that is 31.5″ x 19.5″ x 13.2″ so 64.2″ total. Would they charge for this bag?

    Reply

    • Hey Emily, this is a tough question to answer as it really depends on the ticketing agent you get. Some are a bit more lenient and some can be pretty strict. Even though this is only 2.2″ over the limit, they could techhhhnically charge you but I can’t promise they would/wouldn’t.

      Sorry to not be of more help here!

      Reply

  4. Hi. Is the free 2 checked in baggage per passenger or per booking? What if we are 4 passengers in 1 booking. So we can have 2 bags each free? Thanks

    Reply

    • Catherine Luther June 3, 2019

      Hi Luisa,

      Southwest’s checked baggage allowance is 2 bags per ticketed passenger. Each bag must not exceed 50 lbs and 62 inches (L+W+H).

      Reply

  5. Does the 62″ checked baggage limit include the wheels and handle?

    Reply

  6. Jonathan Bornemann June 16, 2019

    HI there,
    I am flying southwest in August and I am planning on bringing along fishing poles and tackle. I have a travel case that extends to 88” as well as has a diameter of 4.5” Is there an extra size baggage fee I will have to pay because it is bigger than 3”? Also is it allowed to put all of my other fishing gear in my checked bag or carry on bag (lures, hooks, reels etc?)

    Reply

    • Catherine Luther June 17, 2019

      Hi Jonathan,

      We advise you contact Southwest directly with your inquiry. As per their checked baggage terms and conditions your luggage would not be compliant, but it’s always worth giving them a call to check your options.

      Reply

  7. Stephanie July 13, 2019

    Can I pay cash for an additional luggage at the counter when I arrive at the airport?

    Reply

  8. Susan Grella August 15, 2019

    If I only have 1 checked bag, will I be charged if say, the bag is 55 pounds, which is still a lot less weight than what 2 bags would weigh?

    Reply

  9. Does two checked bags for FREE mean a carry on and a suitcase? I just needed to know because I leave in a few days and I need to make sure what it specifically means.

    Reply

    • Hi Rebecca,

      With Southwest Airlines you can bring both a carry-on and two checked bags for free!

      Thanks for reading!

      Reply

    • Do all three bags have to be 50 pounds each? If we don’t have a scale at home and we go to the airport how do we know if it even is 50 pounds?

      Reply

      • Hi Sonia,

        Each bag has to be less than 50 pounds. When you arrive to the airport they will weigh your bags at the baggage check desk.

        Thanks for reading!

        Reply

  10. Donald Strickland August 21, 2019

    If doing a 3rd suitcase, is it $75 for a round trip or $75 each way for a total of $150?

    Reply

    • Hi Donald,

      The charge is per one-way, so $150 total for a 3rd checked bag. Thanks for reading!

      Reply

    • Donna Panchyshyn October 5, 2019

      Hi!
      We have a boxed bassinet that is a gift for our daughter. If it meets the size and weight requirements, can it be counted as a checked item?

      Thank you

      Reply

  11. Bringing back a lightsaber from Disney they say it’s 3 ft long will I get charge extra for this?

    Reply

  12. Noel Keeton October 3, 2019

    My fishing rod case is 48″x 4.5″x 4.5″ = 57″ It would qualify as a second bag, but exceed the diameter for a fishing rod case. Would I be charged extra for this case?

    Reply

    • Hi Noel,

      We cannot say definitively as we do not represent Southwest Airlines. I would contact their customer service team directly.

      Thanks for reading!

      Reply

  13. Does Southwest allow a fourth checked bag?

    Reply

  14. Craig Ramza Sr December 12, 2019

    What is meant when it says limited release? That is in the Golf Clubs section.
    Also, a set of golf clubs starts out at 50 inches high, meaning it will certainly exceed the 62 inch limit. (H plus W plus D).

    Would that mean that they can or will allow you to exceed the 62 inch limit as long as you keep it under the 50 pound weight limit?

    And does that only apply to hard shell cases, or will a softside case fit these guidelines.

    Thanks

    Reply

    • Hi Craig,

      Southwest asks that it be a hard-sided golf bag. Their terms state that a golf bag can be checked in place of one of your standard bags and that if an 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.

      Thanks for reading!

      Reply

  15. I am trying to purchase a 3 piece luggage set with the spinner wheels, but the large suitcase with wheels is 63 inches when adding W×L×H. I always fly southwest but they can be hard on canvas luggage. Is this the stardard sizes for spinner wheeled suitcases(large 28in, Medium 24in , Small 22in)? If not, do you have any recommendations on affordable options that meet southwest standards? The wheels are important, too, as I am disabled and travel solo.

    Reply

  16. Kristina Gillon February 5, 2020

    I am wondering if they allow combined baggage. If me and my 3 children use one large bag as one check in? Can the size allowance be added all together for a free check in??

    Reply

    • Katie Seemann February 5, 2020

      Hi Kristina,
      Your first 2 checked bags are free. So, if you’re flying with 3 children, you would be able to check 2 bags each, for a total of 8 bags. You can’t however check a huge, overweight bag and have them count it as 2.

      Reply

  17. KERI FREEMAN February 12, 2020

    Is there a different carry on size luggage for international flights?

    Reply

  18. I am traveling for a school trip and I have a carry-on duffel that’s 22in x 11in x 10.5in, would I be charged for the extra .5 inches or will they still accept it? Also, online says if it doesn’t fit dimensions, they’ll have to check it at gate, will that cost?

    Reply

    • Catherine Luther February 17, 2020

      Hi Josie,

      Whether a bag is accepted can depend entirely on the ticketing assistant on the day. If your bag is oversized and checked at the gate, then you will be charged the cost of a checked bag.

      Reply

  19. Reece Hudgins March 11, 2020

    If I three checked bags and one exceeds the 62″ linear measurement, would it cost me $75 dollars for the 3rd bag fee or $150 for the 3rd bag fee plus the oversize fee?

    Reply

  20. Margaret Simms March 19, 2020

    I want to a ticket for my son but i realize these flight are cheap but the baggage are expensive he as
    * small nap sack
    * carry-on the average 21 lbs but almost empty just carry it in case the suit case is over weight
    * your suit measurement 62 inches 50 lbs, his own is 50 lbs 33 1/4, 19 3/4 & 111/2=64 1/2 inches his he going to pay $75.00

    Reply

  21. Elias A Gonzalez March 21, 2020

    Hey, I have a tool box that I would like to fly back with me. It weighs under 50lbs with all of my tools in it but it is made of metal and has a lock. How would I be able to fly it back the best way?

    Reply

  22. Hey guys, I wanted to know if anyone has ever traveled with storage bins before? I’m moving back home and was told it would save me a lot of space when traveling a long distance.

    Reply

    • Hi Diamond,

      I personally have never traveled with storage bins, but as long as they fit the weight and size parameters with Southwest then you should be fine to fly with them!

      Thanks for reading!

      Reply

  23. Jamie Atkinson April 24, 2020

    I need to travel with crutches as I am traveling for a surgery and need them for my travel home. Would I have to check these or am I even able to travel with them?

    Reply

  24. Lynn Day Allen May 13, 2020

    I require a Walker at all times. I’ve requested wheelchair assistance from Southwest. So the Walker will go with my luggage. Will I be charged for it?

    Reply

    • Katie Seemann May 13, 2020

      Hi Lynn,
      You may actually be able to bring your walker onboard the aircraft with you. Each plane has a wheelchair storage compartment and if it’s not being used for a wheelchair, the crew can store other assistive devices, like your walker, there. If they can’t they will check it for you free of charge.

      Reply

Any thoughts or questions? Comment below!

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