The Ultimate Guide To Avoid Paying for Baggage Fees [2021]

Stack of Old Suitcases

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Let’s be real: baggage fees are one of the biggest travel annoyances.

We all know this scenario. You’ve already paid (or used points) for your ticket, packed your bags, and requested time off. You’re super excited to jet off to your next destination, and after jumping out of an Uber at the airport and making your way to the baggage counter, the agent hits you with a $50 (or more!) checked bag fee.

Talk about a depressing way to start your hard-earned vacation!

Thankfully though, you don’t have to pay these fees. We’re not saying that you should put up a fight with the gate agent at the baggage counter. Instead, there are a few things you can do to avoid paying baggage fees by preparing before you head to the airport. This includes signing up for the right credit card, enrolling in a paid loyalty program, or booking the right ticket class, but it varies from airline to airline.

In this article, we’re going to walk you through how to avoid baggage fees on all of the major U.S. airlines, as well as some of the international carriers you may fly throughout your travels.

So without further ado, let’s jump in!

Credit Cards That Help Cover Baggage Fees

There are many great co-branded airline credit cards that can help cover the cost of baggage fees, which we will outline in each specific airline section. But what if you’re looking for a card that isn’t tied to a specific airline? Here are some fantastic card options that will help cover your baggage fees with a variety of different airlines.

Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card

Point Earnings: 3x points per $1 on travel and dining purchases, plus 10x points per $1 on Lyft purchases

Baggage Benefit: $300 annual travel credit

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is a great card for any traveler to add to their wallet thanks to its bonus categories and perks. Each year you’ll receive a $300 travel credit that can be used to offset any travel purchases made on the card — including baggage fees.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Point Earnings: 5x points per $1 on airfare purchased directly with airlines or Amex Travel, and 5x points per $1 on hotels purchased through Amex Travel

Baggage Benefit: $200 annual airline incidental credit

The Amex Platinum card is perfect for frequent flyers as it is absolutely jam-packed with perks that really enhance your experience when traveling. The $200 incidental credit can be used to cover non-airfare expenses like baggage fees or seat selection fees, but you must preselect an airline to use the credit with from a list of U.S. carriers.

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Point Earnings: 5x points per $1 on prepaid flights and hotels purchased through Amex Travel

Baggage Benefit: $200 annual airline incidental credit

Business owners who travel often will love the Amex Business Platinum that offers many of the same travel perks and benefits, including the $200 annual airline incidental credit that you can use to cover baggage on a carrier of your choosing.

Citi Prestige® Card

Hot Tip: At this time, the Citi Prestige card is no longer available for new applicants.

Point Earnings: 5x points per $1 on dining and airfare, 3x points per $1 on hotels and cruises

Baggage Benefit: $250 annual travel credit

The Citi Prestige card is an excellent card option for those who regularly spend money on dining and airfare, plus the $250 annual travel credit can be used on any travel-related purchases you’d like — including airfare or baggage fees.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Point Earnings: 14x points per $1 on Hilton purchases, 7x points per $1 on airfare and car rentals, 3x points per $1 on all other purchases

Baggage Benefit: $250 annual airline incidental credit

The Hilton Aspire card is a must-have for Hilton loyalists thanks to its strong point-earning at Hilton hotels and automatic Diamond elite status. Similar to the Amex Platinum card, the Hilton Aspire card offers a $250 annual airline fee credit that can be used to offset baggage fees with an airline of your choosing.

U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

Point Earnings: 5x points per $1 on prepaid hotels and car rentals booked directly with Altitude Rewards, 3x points per $1 on travel and mobile wallet purchases.

Baggage Benefit: $325 annual travel credit

The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card is an excellent travel rewards card and offers the largest annual travel credit of each card featured, giving you $325 each year to offset travel purchases like checked baggage fees.

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Card

Point Earnings: 2x points per $1 on travel and dining, 1.5x points per $1 on all other purchases

Baggage Benefit: $100 annual airline incidental credit

The Bank of America Premium Rewards card is the most affordable option of the bunch with a low annual fee of just $95. When you factor in that the card offers you a $100 annual airline incidental credit that can be used for baggage fees, the card basically pays for itself.

Other Credit Card Options

Annual travel credits or airline incidental credits aren’t the only ways to pay for your baggage fees — you could also use a card that allows you to apply the points you’ve earned with the card to cover your baggage fees. The following credit cards all give you the option of redeeming your points to offset any travel-related purchases made with your card, including baggage fees, airfare, early boarding, and similar purchases.

Bottom Line: Airline credit cards aren’t the only way to get your bags paid for. Credit cards that offer annual travel or incidental credits are great options when it comes to finding ways to cover your baggage fees!

Avoiding Baggage Fees on U.S. Airlines

All of the major U.S. airlines — from the Big 3 to low-cost carriers — charge baggage fees of some sort. The only exception to this rule is Southwest Airlines which includes 2 checked bags and a free carry-on with all tickets booked, regardless of fare class.

Here’s a look at how to avoid baggage fees on all U.S. airlines.

Alaska Airlines

alaksa self tag bag
Alaska Airlines credit card and elite status members get free checked bags on all Alaska Airlines flights — even if they’re booked on Saver fares. Image Credit: Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines is a West Coast favorite, with hubs ranging from Anchorage (ANC) to Seattle (SEA) to Los Angeles (LAX). The airline mostly flies domestically around the U.S. but has some international routes to Canada, Mexico, and various countries in Central America, too.

With that, the airline does charge baggage fees unless you’re flying in first or premium class. Your first checked bag will cost $30 in economy class unless you’re flying an intra-Alaska flight, in which case, you’ll get up to 3 free checked bags. Thankfully, though, the airline does not charge carry-on bag fees in any of its fare classes — even in Saver (basic economy) class.

You can avoid checked bag fees by having an Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card. All cardholders get a free checked bag for themselves as well as up to 6 travel companions on the same itinerary. So if you’re booking for your family or coworkers, make sure to book them on the same itinerary.

Further, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan MVP, MVP Gold, and MVP Gold 75K status members get 2 free checked bags on all the Alaska Airlines flights they fly. This benefit also extends to other passengers on the elite status member’s itinerary.

Learn more about Alaska Airlines’ baggage fees in our guide.

American Airlines

American Airlines baggage
You can avoid American Airlines baggage fees by opening an American Airlines credit card with Barclays or Citi. Image Credit: American Airlines

American Airlines charges baggage fees on economy tickets, as well. While those in first or business class get up to 2 free checked bags on both domestic and international flights, only select economy tickets get free checked bags.

You’ll get 1 free checked bag, a free carry-on, and a free personal item (think laptop case, purse, etc.) when flying internationally on American Airlines in standard economy class. However, those in basic economy will only get a free carry-on and personal item on both international and domestic flights.

On the other hand, American Airlines does not include a free checked bag on domestic flights in standard economy class. You can avoid paying a checked bag fee by opening one of American Airlines’ various co-branded credit cards. All of the available American Airlines credit cards include free checked bags and priority boarding, amongst other various benefits.

Likewise, travelers with American Airlines AAdvantage elite status or Oneworld elite status get a free checked bag on all flights. So if you have British Airways Executive Club status, Qantas status, or status with another Oneworld airline, make sure to add your frequent flyer number to avoid baggage fees and earn redeemable and status-qualifying points.

Learn more about American Airlines’ baggage fees in our guide.

Delta Air Lines

Delta Baggage Handler
Avoid Delta baggage fees with a credit card or elite status. Image Credit: Delta

As you’d expect, Delta Air Lines also charges various baggage fees. Like American, those in domestic or international first and business class get free checked bags, while those in domestic economy class — both standard and basic — and international basic economy have to pay for checked bags.

Thankfully, personal items and a carry-on bag are included with all Delta Air Lines itineraries, regardless of booking class. You can avoid checked bag fees by holding one of Delta’s co-branded Amex credit cards. Most of these cards come with a free checked bag (and other benefits) — something that can save you lots of money if you travel on the airline often.

Further, those with Delta Air Lines Medallion status — regardless of status tier — also get free checked bags included with all flights, including basic economy tickets. Likewise, travelers with status on other SkyTeam airlines get free checked bags when flying on Delta — just add your frequent flyer number to your reservation.

Learn more about Delta Air Lines’ baggage fees in our guide.

Frontier Airlines

Frontier girl bag check in
Image Credit: Frontier

Frontier Airlines is a major player in the U.S. low-cost carrier space. Naturally, the airline charges fees for both carry-on and checked bags on all of its fares, but you can avoid these if you have Frontier Airlines elite status.

All Frontier EarlyReturns elite status members get a free carry-on bag, and Elite 100K members get a free checked bag on all flights. Other elite status benefits include free priority boarding, seat assignments, and waived award redemption fees. You can earn Frontier elite status by flying on Frontier or spending on the airline’s co-branded credit card.

Learn more about Frontier Airlines’ baggage fees in our guide.

JetBlue Airways

jetblue Overhead Compartment Storage bag
All JetBlue fare classes include a free carry-on bag and personal item. Image Credit: JetBlue

While JetBlue used to offer free checked bags on all flights, this went away when the airline revamped its ticket structure in 2018. Nowadays, only Mint business class and Blue Plus passengers are entitled to free bags, and all other passengers have to pay for checked bags regardless of their fare type.

Thankfully, all JetBlue fare classes include a free carry-on bag and personal item. This includes the airline’s Blue Basic fare class which is the equivalent of basic economy on most carriers.

Hot Tip: Beginning July 20, 2021, Blue Basic fares purchased on or after February 25, 2021, will only receive 1 personal item to be stowed underneath the seat (and no standard carry-on bag).

You can avoid these baggage fees by signing up for The JetBlue Plus Card or The JetBlue Business Card from Barclays. Both of these include 1 free checked bag on all JetBlue flights regardless of the booking class, so you don’t have to worry about paying for bags if you fly JetBlue often.

Likewise, those with JetBlue TrueBlue Mosaic status can check 2 bags for free on all flights, regardless of booking class. Other elite status benefits include bonus mileage earning, free priority boarding, and the ability to redeem a low number of TrueBlue points for Even More Space seating.

Learn more about JetBlue’s baggage fees in our guide.

Spirit Airlines

spirit bag drop
You can use a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve card to offset your Spirit baggage fees. Image Credit: Spirit

Spirit Airlines is the largest low-cost carrier in the U.S. and — like Frontier — it charges quite a bit for both carry-on and checked bags on all of its flights. Fortunately, the carrier offers a membership that allows you to save 50% on checked bag fees by enrolling in the Spirit Saver$ Club.

The Spirit Saver$ Club is a subscription service that gives its members access to discounted fares and — as discussed — discounted bags. The service costs $59.95 your first year and $69.95 every year after, so make sure to do the math to see if you fly enough to have the discounted fares and baggage offset the membership cost.

Spirit Airlines does have 2 co-branded credit cards, but neither offers any baggage benefits. Instead, you can only use them to earn Spirit points on everyday purchases — something that we don’t necessarily recommend doing. However, those with Spirit Airlines Gold status receive a free carry-on and checked bag on all Spirit flights.

Learn more about Spirit Airlines’ baggage fees in our guide.

United Airlines

united ticket agent bag check in
United offers co-branded credit cards that include free checked bags and other awesome benefits. Image Credit: United

United Airlines has the toughest baggage rules of the Big 3 U.S. airlines. As you’d expect, checked and carry-on bags are free on international business and standard economy class bookings. Likewise, these bags are free if you’re flying in the first class cabin on a domestic U.S. flight operated by United Airlines.

But here’s where things get weird. Basic economy — both international and domestic — doesn’t include checked bags. Even worse, domestic tickets in basic economy class don’t get carry-on bags either, so you’re only entitled to a free personal item like a laptop case, purse, or briefcase.

You can skirt these charges by holding a United℠ Explorer Card from Chase. This card has a slew of different benefits for United flyers, including a free checked bag on all bookings, priority boarding, and a free carry-on on basic economy bookings. This means the card can pay for itself after just a couple of flights — especially if you book in basic economy.

The United Club℠ Infinite Card is another excellent option for United loyalists who are comfortable with the card’s annual fee. You’ll receive 2 free checked bags for yourself and a traveling companion, plus benefits like a United Club membership, a 25% discount on inflight purchases, priority boarding, and Premier upgrades on award tickets.

Likewise, anyone with United MileagePlus or Star Alliance elite status is entitled to free checked bags on all United bookings. So if you’re an elite on ANA, Lufthansa, or another Star Alliance carrier, make sure to add your frequent flyer number to your United bookings for free bags and more.

Learn more about United Airlines’ baggage fees in our guide.

Avoiding Baggage Fees on Major European Airlines

European airlines are notorious for baggage fees — especially when flying in lower fare economy classes. Even many larger legacy airlines charge carry-on and checked bag fees on economy tickets. Below, we’ll show you how to avoid these fees.

Aer Lingus

aer lingus bag drop
Your Aer Lingus baggage costs will depend on the route you’re flying and your bag weight. Image Credit: Aer Lingus

Aer Lingus baggage fees depend on your fare class when flying intra-Europe in economy class. We ran a sample search and found that on this flight from Dublin (DUB) to London (LHR) there were 4 different economy classes available. The lowest class only includes a small cabin bag, while the higher fare classes include a checked bag, too.

You can opt to book the lowest fare class and buy a checked bag when paying for your ticket or at the airport. Just note that the cost will depend on the route you’re flying and how much your bag weighs. For this flight, bags cost between €20 and €65 (~$23 to $74), depending on weight.

Flights to and from North America are treated similarly. All tickets include a free carry-on bag, but only tickets booked in Economy Select or higher include checked bags. Those booked in the Economy Saver can add a bag during the payment process for a fee.

Aer Lingus’ U.S. co-branded credit card does not include free checked bags on any bookings. And strangely enough, those with Aer Lingus AerClub elite status aren’t eligible for free bags either, so your only option is to either book into a fare class that does cover these fees or use a credit card that offers an annual travel credit.

Learn more about Aer Lingus’ baggage fees in our guide.

Air France

Air France self print bagtag
SkyTeam elite members get free checked bags on all Air France flights. Image Credit: Air France

Air France includes free carry-on bags on all intra-France, intra-Europe, and intercontinental flights. Likewise, the airline only charges for checked bags on Economy Light fares — this is its lowest fare and is akin to a basic economy fare on other carriers.

You can, however, purchase checked baggage for Economy Light fares for a fee. This fee largely depends on the route you’re flying, with longer routes generally having higher checked bag fees than shorter flights.

You can avoid paying these fees if you have Air France Flying Blue or SkyTeam elite status. As is the case with most airlines, you’ll receive free checked bags if you add your elite frequent flyer number to an Air France booking. This includes status on Delta Air Lines, Alitalia, and others.

Learn more about Air France’s baggage fees in our guide.

Alitalia

alitalia bag drop
Alitalia’s self-check-in kiosks also allow for checking in baggage. Image Credit: Alitalia

Alitalia is another SkyTeam partner. Like Air France, the airline includes a free carry-on and personal item on all flights — even if you’re booked in the cheapest economy fare. However, the airline does charge for checked bags on Economy Light fares.

Alitalia elite status members get an extra piece of luggage on standard economy, premium economy, and business class bookings. On the other hand, elite status members flying on Economy Light fares get 1 free checked bag. Unfortunately, however, Alitalia doesn’t specify if this benefit carries over to other SkyTeam elite members flying on Economy Light fares.

Learn more about Alitalia’s baggage fees in our guide.

British Airways

02 London Heathrow Terminal 5 Economy Check in
British Airways has an extensive list of baggage fees. Make sure you know how to avoid them before you book a flight. Image Credit: Greg Stone

British Airways has the largest U.S. presence of any international carrier. In fact, the airline has even started flying to smaller U.S. airports like Charleston (CHS), Nashville (BNE), and New Orleans (MSY) from its London (LHR) mega-hub, giving many of these cities their only nonstop link to Europe.

If you find yourself booked on a British Airways jet, make sure to keep an eye out for its extensive list of baggage fees. There are too many specifics to list out in this article, but as a rule of thumb, if you’re booked in an Economy Light fare, you’ll likely be asked to pay a baggage fee if you want to check a bag on your journey.

Likewise, many intra-Europe, intra-U.K., and international flights booked in standard economy class have checked bag fees attached to them. There are a few exceptions to this rule, though — for example, U.S. to India via the U.K. — so you’ll want to see our full guide to British Airways’ baggage fees for more info.

So how do you avoid these fees? Good question — and to be frank, it isn’t easy.

Like other European airlines on this list, British Airways does offer a U.S. co-branded credit card, but it doesn’t include any type of in-flight benefits (like free bags). Instead, only those with select British Airways or Oneworld elite status tiers can skirt baggage fees on British Airways economy fares.

British Airways Executive Club Silver and Gold members get a free checked bag on standard economy fares, but not on Economy Light fares. The same goes for Oneworld status members: Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members get a free bag, but not on Economy Light flights.

Learn more about British Airways’ baggage fees in our guide.

Lufthansa

lufthansa check in bag
Lufthansa only charges for checked bags in Economy Light. Image Credit: Lufthansa

Lufthansa is another heavyweight in the European airline space. Unlike British Airways, though, the airline doesn’t charge checked bag fees on most flights.

All Lufthansa-operated intercontinental flights include at least 1 free checked bag, too. Economy passengers are entitled to 1 bag, premium economy and business class passengers get 2 bags, and those lucky enough to sit in first class get 3 free checked bags.

Intra-Europe fares are a bit different, though. Economy Light fares don’t include a checked bag, but one can be purchased for a fee when you book your flight. As always, make sure this makes financial sense — sometimes, it may be cheaper to just purchase a standard economy fare instead of adding a bag to an Economy Light booking.

Lufthansa Miles and More elite status members get a free bag on all Lufthansa bookings, and those with Senator and Hons Circle status get extra weight, too (with no overweight fees).

Likewise, Star Alliance Gold elite members with other airlines like ANA, Air Canada, United, and others also get a free checked bag on all Lufthansa flights. Just make sure to link your frequent flyer number to your itinerary.

Lufthansa does offer a co-branded U.S. credit card through Barclays, but it doesn’t have free baggage benefits at this time.

As you’d expect, standard carry-on bags and personal items are included on all Lufthansa fares — even Economy Light.

Learn more about Lufthansa’s baggage fees in our guide.

Norwegian Air

norwegian bag boarding
LowFare+ and Premium tickets include a carry-on bag. Image Credit: Norwegian

Norwegian Air has been a big player in the European air market for the past couple of years. The airline has historically flown around the Nordics in Northern Europe and is Norway’s largest airline.

At its core, the airline is still a budget carrier. This means that the airline charges baggage fees on nearly all of its flights — and depending on the route you fly, the fees can be pretty costly.

Tickets booked in LowFare — the airline’s cheapest fare class — do not include any checked bags. However, you do get a free personal item, provided it can fit under the seat in front of you. Standard carry-on bags are not included with this fare.

You can pay for checked and carry-on bags à la carte or upgrade to LowFare+. This more premium fare class includes 1 checked bag and a standard carry-on item, however, it does cost more than a standard LowFare ticket. Likewise, Flex tickets also include a checked and carry-on bag, but the checked bag can weigh up to 50% more.

While Norwegian Air doesn’t have traditional elite status, it does reward its frequent flyers with perks via Norwegian Air Rewards. You’ll earn a Reward for every 6 Norwegian flights you take. You can redeem your Reward for a variety of different perks, with one being a free checked bag on your booking. Other Rewards include priority boarding, extra CashPoints on a single booking, or Fast Track security.

Learn more about Norwegian Air’s baggage fees in our guide.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

klm checked bag
All KLM economy fares, excluding Economy Light, include a checked bag. Image Credit: KLM

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines — usually dubbed KLM for short — is an Amsterdam-based airline. As you’d expect, all Economy Light fares include a single carry-on bag with no checked bag. On the other hand, all other economy fares include a checked bag regardless of destination. Business class fares include extra baggage, but you can purchase extra baggage for a fee.

Further, Flying Blue Platinum, Gold, and Silver members — as well as other SkyTeam elite status members — can bring an extra piece of checked luggage on all other flights. The airline doesn’t have a U.S. credit card with free checked bags.

Learn more about KLM Royal Dutch Airlines’ baggage fees in our guide.

Ryanair

Ryanair is well-known as one of the cheapest airlines in the world, and it specializes in cheap flight point-to-point flights around Europe. With that, though, the airline is also well-known for its fees. Standard tickets only include a personal item, and you can’t check-in at the airport without paying a fee.

Standard carry-on items are subject to a fee that varies from route-to-route. Further, checked bags are also subject to a fee. We highly recommend that you purchase your baggage online before you head to the airport, too — this is because, like Spirit, checked bag (and other fees) are higher once you get to the airport. Thankfully, you can purchase baggage and other add-ons after you initially buy your ticket.

Ryanair Baggage Packages
Saver money by buying a Ryanair baggage package at checkout. Image Credit: Ryanair

There is no way to avoid these fees, but sometimes you can save money by buying a package. The Regular package includes a reserved seat assignment and a carry-on, while the Plus bag includes all of that and free airport check-in and a checked bag. The highest package — Flexi Plus — includes a carry-on, fast track, ticket changes, and priority boarding, but not a checked bag.

While Ryanair doesn’t have a U.S. credit card or elite status, you can also pay for your ticket with a credit card that has an annual travel credit, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve card whose annual $300 travel credit can offset the ticket, checked bag fees, and more.

Learn more about Ryanair’s baggage fees in our guide.

Swiss Air Lines

Swiss Air Automated Check In Kiosk
Having Star Alliance Gold status will get you free checked bags with Swiss. Image Credit: Anna Shvets via Pexels

Swiss International Air Lines, the flagship carrier of Switzerland and Star Alliance, allows all travelers to bring 1 personal item and 1 carry-on bag, but business and first-class passengers can bring 2 carry-on bags.

As for the checked baggage policy, SWISS breaks this up based on what destination you’re traveling to and your fare class.

For European routes, those traveling in Light Fare Class receive no checked baggage allowance. If you’re traveling on a Classic or Flex fare, then you may bring 1 checked bag; business and first-class passengers are able to bring 2 checked bags.

For intercontinental routes, Light Fare Class passengers again receive no checked luggage allowance. Standard Economy passengers can bring 1 bag, business passengers may bring 2 bags, and first class passengers are allowed to bring 3 checked bags.

Unfortunately, the SWISS co-branded credit cards don’t offer any baggage benefits, and they aren’t available in the U.S. However, those who hold elite status with SWISS will get additional baggage allowance on all SWISS-operated flights (excluding Light Fares). Those with HON Circle, Senator, or Star Alliance Gold status may bring 1 bag in economy class, and 1 bag in business and first class, plus a set of golf equipment. Those with Frequent Traveller status may bring 1 bag in economy class.

Learn more about SWISS baggage fees in our guide.

Virgin Atlantic

virgina atlantic bag
Delta SkyMiles elite status members get free checked bag benefits on Virgin Atlantic. Image Credit: Virgin Atlantic

Last up we have Virgin Atlantic, the second-largest airline in the U.K. The airline specializes in long-haul flights from London, with most routes going to the U.S. and Asia, including some premier destinations such as New York (JFK), Hong Kong (HKG), and Cape Town (CPT), amongst others.

Virgin Atlantic’s cheapest fares — Economy Light — only includes a free carry-on bag and personal item. All other fares, however, include at least 1 checked bag, with premium economy and business class tickets including 2+ bags.

Virgin Atlantic’s U.S. credit card does not include free checked bags on Economy Light fares. Further, those with top-tier Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Gold elite status get an extra free checked and carry-on bag, and Delta Diamond, Platinum, Gold, and Silver Medallion members get 1 extra checked bag on all fares.

Learn more about Virgin Atlantic’s baggage fees in our guide.

Avoiding Baggage Fees on Other Major Airlines

So far we’ve covered avoiding baggage fees on all major U.S. and European airlines — but we’re far from covering all of the world’s airlines. Below, you’ll find information on avoiding baggage fees on other major airlines in Asia, South America, and other regions. It’d be impossible for us to cover every airline, but we’ve handpicked airlines that U.S. flyers are likely to fly when traveling the world.

So without further ado, let’s walk through how to avoid baggage fees on other international airlines.

Aeromexico

aeromexico kiosk check in bag
Those with Aeromexico or SkyTeam elite status get a free checked bag on most Aeromexico flights. Image Credit: Aeromexico

Aeromexico, the flag carrier of Mexico, is a member of the SkyTeam alliance and has close ties with the U.S.-based Delta Air Lines. With this in mind, we’ve also found the 2 carriers have similar baggage fee structures.

All Aeromexico fares have free personal items and a standard carry-on, but flights within Mexico and to/from the U.S. do not include checked bags. Likewise, Basic Fare flights to Europe, Central America, South America, and other regions do not include a checked bag either.

You do get a checked bag on long-haul flights if you upgrade to standard economy class. Likewise, those with Aeromexico or other SkyTeam elite status can enjoy a free checked bag on most flights, so make sure to add your frequent flyer number if you have elite status and want to check a bag in economy class.

Learn more about Aeromexico’s baggage fees in our guide.

Air Canada

Air Canada baggage
The Air Canada co-branded credit cards are great options for those who want free checked bags. Image Credit: Bentley

Air Canada, the flagship carrier of our northern neighbor, has a relatively straightforward baggage policy.

All passengers may bring 1 personal item and 1 carry-on item, regardless of their fare class or destination. This is not the case for checked baggage though, as economy flyers may or may not include 1 checked bag depending on their destination. If you happen to be flying a route in economy where a checked bag is not included, the fee to add one is usually pretty reasonable.

As for those traveling in premium economy or business class, you’ll be able to bring 2 checked bags, no matter where in the world you’re flying. Also, exclusively on eligible routes for no additional cost, those who purchase a Flex or Comfort fares will be able to bring a 1 checked bag, and those who purchase a Latitude fare may bring 2 checked bags.

As for avoiding any baggage fees with Air Canada, the easiest ways are by holding one of its co-branded credit cards, or by having elite status with the carrier.

Both the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Card and the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege Card offer the first checked bag for free for you and up to 9 people traveling on the same reservation on all Air Canada flights.

Those with Air Canada elite status receive even better luggage benefits, and the allowance at each level is as follows:

  • 25K: 2 checked bags free
  • 35K, 50K, 75K, and Super Elite 100K: 3 checked bags free

Lastly, if you’re a Star Alliance Gold member or above, you may bring an extra piece of checked luggage over what your usual fare or destination would allow for.

Learn more about Air Canada’s baggage fees in our full guide.

All Nippon Airways (ANA)

ANA bag drop
All ANA flights — domestic or international — include free checked bags. Image Credit: ANA

All Nippon Airways (ANA) is the flag carrier of Japan and has hubs at Tokyo’s Narita (NRT) and Haneda (HND) airports, serving most major U.S., European and Asian airports. The airline is known for its stellar service in all cabins — and thankfully, it charges very little baggage fees on most of its flights.

All ANA flights — domestic or international — include free checked bags. Interestingly enough, there is actually no limit on how many checked bags you can bring on ANA domestic flights so long as you’re under the class weight limits.

Likewise, international passengers get 2 bags in economy, premium economy, and business class passengers, and first class passengers get 3 checked bags (all subject to class weight limits).

ANA Mileage Club and other Star Alliance elite status members get an extra checked bag, too.

Learn more about ANA’s baggage fees in our full guide.

Avianca

AviancaBaggage
Avianca offers passengers a generous checked baggage policy no matter where you’re flying. Image Credit: Avianca

Avianca, the flag carrier of Colombia and Star Alliance member, has a baggage policy not unlike many of the other carriers listed.

All passengers can bring 1 personal item and 1 carry-on bag on all flights.

As for checked bags, those flying between America and Europe are subject to the following baggage policy:

  • Super Promo Fare (to/from Madrid, Barcelona, London, and Munich): 1 free bag
  • Econo and Flexi Fares (to/from Madrid, Barcelona, London, and Munich): 2 free bags
  • Super Promo, Econo, and Flexi Fares (to the rest of Europe): 2 free bags

For all other routes, passengers flying economy can bring 1 checked bag, and those flying business may bring 2 checked bags at no additional cost.

Avianca does offer a credit card that will help get you out of baggage fees, the Avianca Vuela Visa® Card, but the free additional piece of baggage is only valid for travel between the U.S. and Central America — other routes will not apply.

Those with Aviance LifeMiles Silver status can bring 2 checked bags on all flights, and receive additional weight allowance when flying business class.

If you hold Avianca LifeMiles Gold status, Diamond status, or Star Alliance Gold status and fly in economy, you can bring 2 checked bags, plus 1 smaller bag, on all flights. Business class passengers can bring the same number of pieces, but their first 2 bags get an additional weight allowance.

Learn more about Avianca’s baggage fees in our guide.

Cathay Pacific

cathay check in bag
Cathay Pacific offers free checked bags on all of its flights. Image Credit: Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific is the flag carrier of Hong Kong and has been long known as one of the best airlines in the world. The airline has new planes, an extensive route network, and service in all classes is known to be top-notch. Oh, and like ANA, the airline doesn’t charge a ton of baggage fees either.

All Cathay Pacific passengers get at least 1 checked bag and carry-on item — even in economy class. All economy passengers get 2 free checked bags with a 66-pound weight limit with 2 exceptions: flights to the U.S., which have 2 free carry-on bags with a 50-pound weight limit, and flights from Hong Kong (HKG) to Auckland (AKL) and Christchurch (CHS) — these flights get 1 free checked bag with a 50-pound weight limit in economy class.

Premium economy, business, and first class passengers have higher baggage limits on all flights, regardless of destination. Those with Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club elite status as well as other Oneworld elite status members are entitled to extra luggage on some flights, too. See the Cathay Pacific website for more info on which status tiers get extra baggage on specific routes.

No credit cards currently offer extra Cathay Pacific baggage allowance. We doubt that you’ll often need extra baggage, though, due to Cathay Pacific’s generous baggage allowance on most of its flights.

Learn more about Cathay Pacific’s baggage fees in our guide.

China Southern

China Southern flight attendants with baggage
SkyTeam elite status comes in handy when you’re flying with China Southern. Image Credit: China Southern

China Southern, one of China’s “big 3” airlines, has a baggage policy that is predominantly based on where you’re flying, and quite a generous allowance for first class flyers.

For starters, all passengers can bring 1 personal item and 1 carry-on bag on all flights, while first class passengers can bring 2 carry-on bags.

When it comes to checked bags, there is some deviation based on where you’re flying to and from, but generally speaking, economy passengers will be able to bring 1 checked bag, business passengers can bring 2 checked bags, and first class passengers can bring 3 checked bags.

China Southern does offer a co-branded card, but only to residents of China, so the best way to get your baggage fees paid for on China Southern flights is by having elite status in its Sky Pearl Club program, or SkyTeam alliance status.

Sky Pearl Silver or SkyTeam Elite members can bring 1 additional piece for free when flying piece concept routes, or 20 extra pounds (10 kg) when flying a weight concept route. Sky Pearl Gold and SkyTeam Elite Plus can bring 1 additional piece for free when flying piece concept routes, or 44 extra pounds (20 kg) when flying weight concept routes.

Learn more about China Southern’s baggage fees in our guide.

Emirates

EmiratesBaggage
Emirates has a number of different fare classes to be aware of when it comes to luggage allowance. Image Credit: Emirates

Based in Dubai, Emirates is one of the flagship carriers of the United Arab Emirates and widely regarded as one of the nicest airlines in the world.

When flying Emirates, all passengers can bring 1 piece of carry-on luggage, while business and first class passengers may bring 2 pieces of carry-on luggage.

As for checked bags, there is some variance based on where you’re flying and the fare class you’re flying in. For flights to/from the Americas or flights originating in Africa, Economy Special travelers may bring 1 checked bag, Economy Saver, Flex, and Flex Plus passengers can bring 2 checked bags, while business and first class passengers can bring 2 checked bags with an additional weight allowance.

For any flights outside of the Americas, passengers will be limited to weight allowances based on their fare class, with no limits on the number of pieces.

Emirates does offer 2 co-branded credit cards that are available to those in the U.S., and while they don’t directly offer baggage benefits, the Emirates Skywards Rewards World Elite Mastercard® gives you automatic Skywards Silver status, while the Emirates Skywards Premium World Elite Mastercard® gives you automatic Skywards Gold status, with each status level giving a boost to your baggage weight allowance on all flights.

Learn more about Emirates baggage fees in our guide.

Etihad

Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 First Class Seat
Etihad offers a very generous luggage allowance to first class and Residence passengers. Image Credit: Greg Stone

Etihad Airways, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, is the second-largest carrier in the United Arab Emirates, just behind Emirates, but the airline is a household name of its own when it comes to luxury flight experiences.

All Etihad flyers are able to bring 1 personal item and 1 carry-on bag on all flights. If you’re flying in business class, first class, or The Residence, you may bring 2 carry-on bags.

Checked baggage allowance can vary widely with Etihad depending on where you’re flying and the fare class you’re flying in, so refer to our full guide for a breakdown route by route. But generally speaking, except for those with specific route rules, you’ll receive a specific weight allowance depending on the fare class you’re flying in.

Etihad does not offer any credit cards that are available to those in the U.S., but holding elite status in the Etihad Guest program will receive some additional baggage benefits:

  • Piece Concept Routes — Etihad Guest Silver, Gold, and Platinum members can bring 1 extra checked bag. Those in business or first class will receive an additional weight allowance.
  • Weight Concept Routes — Etihad Guest Silver members may bring an additional 22 pounds (10 kg) of luggage, Gold members may bring 33 pounds (15 kg), and Platinum members may bring 44 pounds (20 kg).

Learn more about Etihad’s baggage fees in our guide.

EVA Air

EVA Air check in experience
Star Alliance Gold members get a free checked bag when flying with EVA. Image Credit: EVA Air

EVA Airways, based out of Taiwan, operates to over 40 international destinations and is a member of the Star Alliance.

On EVA Air flights, all passengers may bring 1 personal item and 1 carry-on bag — that allowance increases to 2 carry-on bags for Royal Laurel, Premium Laurel, and business class passengers.

For checked baggage on flights to and from the U.S. and Canada, all passengers may bring 2 bags each, with varying levels of weight allowance depending on the fare class you’re flying. For most other destinations, EVA operates on a weight allowance instead of a piece allowance, with your weight allowance increasing depending on your fare class.

EVA Air does not offer any credit cards that are available to U.S. residents to help cover your baggage fees. However, those who hold elite status with the airline or Star Alliance are in luck.

Those with Gold or Diamond Card status with EVA or Star Alliance Gold status are able to bring an additional checked bag on piece concept routes and an additional 44 pounds on weight concept routes. Those with EVA Silver Card status or Star Alliance Silver status may bring an additional piece of luggage on piece concept routes and an additional 22 pounds (10 kg) on weight concept routes.

Learn more about EVA’s baggage fees in our guide.

Japan Airlines

JAL Self Serve Bag Drop
With Japan Airlines, all passengers can bring 2 checked bags on all flights regardless of route. Image Credit: Japan Airlines

Japan’s national carrier, Japan Airlines, services over 220 destinations in 35 countries worldwide, and is a member of the Oneworld alliance.

When traveling with Japan Airlines, all passengers may bring 1 personal item, along with 1 carry-on bag.

The checked baggage allowance is also very straightforward and reasonable. Economy and premium economy passengers may bring 2 checked bags each on all flights. As for business and first class passengers, their allowance is extended to 3 checked bags each.

Japan Airlines does offer a U.S. eligible credit card, the JAL U.S.A Card, but unfortunately, it does not come along with any baggage benefits.

Those with elite status in the Japan Airlines Mileage Bank loyalty program will see a boost to their baggage allowance. If you’re a JMB Crystal member without JAL Global Club (JGC) status then you’ll receive 3 bags free when flying in economy or premium economy. For JMB FLY ON and JGC members, you’re able to bring 3 bags when flying economy or premium economy and 4 bags when flying in business or first class.

Learn more about Japan Airlines baggage fees in our guide.

Korean Air

Korean Air Boeing 777 First Class - Cherag Dubash
Getting luggage fees covered is easy when you have elite status with Korean Air. Image Credit: Cherag Dubash

Korean Air services over 120 destinations worldwide and is the national carrier of South Korea and a member of the SkyTeam airline alliance.

All passengers flying with Korean Air are able to bring 1 personal item and 1 carry-on bag on their flight. If you’re flying in first or Prestige class then you may bring 2 carry-on bags.

For checked baggage allowance, all economy passengers are able to bring 1 checked bag on all flights. Prestige class passengers may bring 2 checked bags on all flights. Finally, first class passengers may bring 3 checked bags on all flights.

There are multiple Korean co-branded credit cards available to U.S. residents, but unfortunately, none of them offer any sort of luggage benefits or discounts.

For members of SKYPASS, those with SKYPASS Morning Calm Club status receive 1 additional piece of luggage, except when flying economy on itineraries to or from the Americas, where the additional free baggage cannot be applied.

If you have SKYPASS Morning Calm Premium Club or Million Miler Club status you’ll receive 1 additional piece of luggage regardless of the route you’re flying.

Have SkyTeam elite status? SkyTeam Elite and Elite Plus members receive an extra bag on routes where a piece concept applies or additional weight allowance on weight routes.

Learn more about Korean Air’s baggage fees in our guide.

Qantas

Qantas Check-In Kiosk at Sydney Airport
All domestic and international Qantas flights include at least 1 free checked bag. Image Credit: Greg Stone

Qantas, the flag carrier of Australia, is a member of the Oneworld alliance and flies routes from Australia to Europe, the U.S., and elsewhere. In fact, Qantas is even in the process of launching a nonstop flight from Brisbane (BNE) to Chicago (ORD). This will be the first time an airline has ever flown scheduled service from Australia to Chicago.

On the baggage side of things, Qantas offers free carry-ons and personal items to all of its flyers. Likewise, all domestic and international flights on Qantas include at least 1 free checked bag. Those in higher classes of service get extra free luggage, and you can get additional free checked luggage if you’re a Qantas Frequent Flyer or Oneworld elite status member.

Note that flights to/from North and South America get more free baggage than other international flights, too. Economy passengers get 2 free checked bags on these flights that weigh up to 50 pounds each. Likewise, business and first class passengers get 3 pieces of luggage that weigh up to 70 pounds each, giving you plenty of room to bring important things with you to Australia.

Learn more about Qantas’ baggage fees in our guide.

Qatar Airways

Qatar Baggage
Make sure you know how much luggage you’re allowed to bring when flying Qatar Airways. Image Credit: Qatar Airways

Headquartered in Doha, Qatar Airways has a reputation as one of the nicest airlines to fly on in the world, with arguably the world’s best business class experience.

When flying with Qatar, economy passengers are able to bring 1 personal item and 1 carry-on bag, while business and first class passengers are able to bring 2 carry-on bags.

When it comes to checked baggage, your total allowance will depend on the fare class you’re flying, along with whether you’re traveling on a piece concept or weight concept route:

  • Piece Concept Routes — All passengers may bring 2 checked bags, with increased weight allowance for business and first class passengers.
  • Weight Concept Routes — For the vast majority of flights, you’ll receive an allowance based on your fare class purchases, with no limit on the number of pieces you can bring. These weight allowances may be extended for select routes originating in Africa or flights between Doha and Casablanca or Marrakesh.

Those with Qatar Airways Privilege Club elite status get a nice boost to their baggage allowance as follows:

  • Silver — Extra 22 pounds on weight concept routes
  • Gold — Extra 33 pounds on weight concept routes, or 1 additional bag on piece concept routes
  • Platinum — Extra 44 pounds on weight concept routes, or 1 additional bag on piece concept routes

Learn more about Qatar’s baggage fees in our guide.

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines customer service desk
Singapore flyers receive a generous amount of luggage allowance, especially if you’re a PPS Club member. Image Credit: Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines is a Star Alliance member that is often ranked as the world’s best airline and it has a straightforward baggage policy that is not unlike many of the others discussed in the post.

Economy and premium economy passengers are able to bring 1 personal item and 1 carry-on bag on all flights, while business and first class passengers are able to bring 2 carry-on bags.

With checked luggage, Singapore divides its policy into 2 categories: by weight for most routes that the airline flies, and by piece for all routes to and from the U.S. To receive an additional baggage allowance with Singapore you have 3 options: become a PPS Club Member or achieve Singapore KrisFlyer or Star Alliance Gold status.

  • Weight Concept Routes
    • You may bring as many bags as you would like as long as you do not exceed your class’s weight allowance.
    • PPS Club Members have their weight allowance at every fare class doubled (i.e. economy standard passengers receive 132 pounds of baggage allowance), while KrisFlyer Elite Gold and Star Alliance Gold members receive an additional 44 pounds of allowance.
  • Piece Concept Routes
    • Economy and premium economy passengers may bring 2 checked bags weighing up to 50 pounds each, while business, Suites, and first class passengers may bring 2 checked bags weighing up to 70 pounds each.
    • PPS Club members have their luggage allowance doubled (i.e. first class passengers can bring up to 4 checked bags), while KrisFlyer Elite Gold and Star Alliance Gold members receive 1 additional piece of checked luggage.

Learn more about Singapore’s baggage fees in our guide.

Thai Airways

Thai Airways monk at bag drop
Thai Airways offers a straight-forward baggage policy for travelers. Image Credit: Thai Airways

Thai Airways, the national carrier of Thailand and a Star Alliance member, offers an uncomplicated baggage policy for passengers.

For starters, all passengers may bring 1 personal item and 1 carry-on bag on all flights.

As for checked luggage, all passengers are subject to a weight allowance based on where they’re flying and their fare class, with no limit on the number of checked bags they can bring.

Fortunately, those with Thai Airways or Star Alliance status are able to have their luggage allowance extended even further. Royal Orchid Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Star Alliance Gold members can bring an additional checked bag on all Thai Airways flights.

Learn more about Thai Airways baggage fees in our guide.

Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines bag drop
Like most Star Alliance airlines, you’ll receive additional baggage allowance with Star Alliance elite status. Image Credit: Turkish Airlines

This Star Alliance partner is the national carrier of Turkey and services 315 destinations worldwide, making it the largest mainline carrier in the world by the number of passenger destinations.

All passengers flying Turkish may bring 1 personal item and 1 carry-on bag on all flights.

When it comes to checked baggage, Turkish divides the allowance by routes with a piece allowance and routes with a weight allowance:

  • Weight Allowance — These routes allow you to bring as many bags as you would like, provided that those bags don’t exceed you total weight allowance.
  • Piece Allowance — Passengers are allowed to bring 2 checked bags, with additional weight allowance for each bag for business class passengers.

Those with Turkish Miles&Smiles or Star Alliance elite status receive additional baggage allowance. Miles&Smiles Classic Plus members can bring an extra 22 pounds (10 kg) of luggage on weight concept routes. Elite Extra and Star Alliance Gold members can bring an extra 44 pounds on weight concept routes, or 1 extra piece on piece concept routes. Finally, Elite Plus members can bring an additional 55 pounds on weight concept routes, or 1 extra piece on piece concept routes.

Learn more about Turkish Airlines baggage fees in our guide.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it — how to avoid baggage fees on some of the world’s largest airlines.

We walked you through a ton of airlines in this piece, highlighting ways that you can avoid paying annoying checked and carry-on bag fees with credit cards, elite status, and more. Make sure to bookmark this page and refer to it before you book a flight — it’ll come in handy the next time you find yourself booked on a new airline.

Now we want to turn the virtual microphone to you. How do you avoid paying baggage fees when you travel? Let us know by leaving a comment below.


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Frequently asked questions

Can I use the Amex Platinum card to offset baggage fees?

Yes, you can offset baggage fees on 1 select domestic U.S. carrier using the Amex Platinum card’s airline incidental fee credit. Check out our full article to understand how to use the benefit — we’ll show you how to set your airline of choice. Once you choose your carrier, simply charge your baggage fee to your Amex Platinum card and you’ll be reimbursed for up to $200 in fees.

Does Spirit Airlines offer free checked bags to elite status members?

Yes, Free Spirit members that have reached Gold status will receive a free first checked and carry-on bag.

Can I use the Venture card to offset baggage fees on any airline?

Yes, you can use the Venture card’s Purchase Eraser tool to offset baggage fees on any airline worldwide. Just charge your baggage fee to your Venture card and mark the fee for redemption on the Capital One website.

Remember, you can use the tool to redeem for baggage fees and other travel purchases at 1 cent per point.

Does Southwest Airlines offer free checked bags?

Yes, Southwest Airlines offers all customers 2 free checked bags on all flights, both international and domestic.

Which airlines allow carry-on bags for free?

For the most part, many airlines allow free carry-on bags unless you’re flying with a budget carrier like Spirit or Frontier, or you’ve purchased a basic economy ticket with an airline that doesn’t allow carry-ons for basic economy passengers (like domestic United flights).

Which airlines charge for bags?

Most airlines charge for checked bags in some capacity, though they might be included depending on where you’re flying and what cabin class you’re flying in. One popular airline that is known for not charging bag fees is Southwest where all passengers can bring 2 checked bags on every flight regardless of where they are flying.

Andrew Kunesh

About Andrew Kunesh

Andrew was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs and now splits his time between Chicago and New York City. He’s a lifelong traveler and took his first solo trip to San Francisco at the age of 16. Fast forward a few years, and Andrew now travels just over 100,000 miles a year, with over 25 countries, 10 business class products, and 2 airline statuses (United and Alaska) under his belt.

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