Southwest Airlines Baggage Fees & How To Avoid Paying Them!

Southwest baggage fees
80

We may be compensated when you click on links from one or more of our advertising partners. Opinions and recommendations are ours alone. See our Advertiser Disclosure for more details.

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 bonus mile offer after spending $500 in 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 balance! We've highlighted 30+ benefits of the card.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card - The "big brother" card to the VentureOne with 60,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. This card is full of benefits and perks and you can redeem your miles on travel or transfer your miles to over 10+ travel loyalty programs.

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.

Dr. Erin Miller

About Dr. Erin Miller

Erin currently maintains her status as Alex's adventure-seeking partner-in-crime and contributes to Upgraded Points through in-depth content creation & relationship management.
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)!

Travel prices are about to surge from pent-up demand.

Use this points strategy to lock in pennies-on-the-dollar pricing in 2021, all without being a frequent flyer...

How do I only pay $30 to go to Hawaii, $200 for business class to Asia or just $150 to Europe?

Discover the real-life strategies that anyone can use to enjoy limitless travel (even on a limited budget!)

Just sign up below and I’ll send you the Limitless Travel Playbook instantly:

We respect your privacy. Please view our privacy policy here.

Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.

80 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

  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

    • 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

    • 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

  25. Do business tickets have an extra weight limit for the checked-in bags like 70 bounds for each bag?

    Reply

  26. Aaliyah Burks June 28, 2020

    Im going on my first flight this weekend and am bringing two carry ons (backpack and purse) and one luggage. Will I have to pay extra for the second carry on? Also will my checked bag be free when I’m returning home?

    Reply

    • Hi Aaliyah,

      If you bring two carry-ons then yes you will be charged for the second one. Either your backpack or purse can count as your personal item, and your luggage will count as your carry on. Though, to avoid paying for any of those items you could simply check your luggage, as Southwest allows each passenger to check two bags for free.

      Thanks for reading!

      Reply

  27. How heavy can your checked bag be on Southwest if flying international?

    Reply

    • Hi Tina,

      According to Southwest’s baggage policy, 50 pounds is the maximum weight for a checked piece of luggage. If your bag is 51-100 pounds you’ll be charged an overweight bag fee of $75 per item.

      Reply

  28. Kerry Despain August 30, 2020

    Water skis and snow skis are allowed without size restrictions. Fishing rod case larger than 3” wide is going to get an oversized fee. This makes absolutely no sense! My fishing rod case is the same width as skis (5”) but my case is 60” long, skis are longer than that! Would they allow my rod case in place of the 2 checked bags, which is worth $150, and allow me to check my fishing case in place of 2 checked bags, same cost!

    Reply

  29. Amoy Haughton November 15, 2020

    Is a 25″x10″x16″ size suitcase suitable for carry on?

    Reply

    • Hi Amoy,

      That is a little bit larger than Southwest’s max linear dimensions, but since it is close it is unlikely that they would measure it – so you should be fine.

      Reply

  30. Their policy may say one thing, but it’s ultimately up to the person working behind the counter, so get ready for an argument because they probably don’t know their job well enough to understand the exceptions (looking at you DCA).

    Reply

  31. Hi!
    I just have 2 quick questions,
    1) Is the weight/size limit for the 2 checked bags a collective total? For ex. if I brought 2 checked bags, would each bag need to weigh 25 lbs in order to be acceptable? Or can each bag weigh 50 lbs?

    2) So If I wanted to I can bring up to 2 checked bags as well as 1 carry on and 1 personal bag and it would be free? That’s technically 4 bags total, is that correct? (They would be their respected sizes and weights, of course.)

    Reply

    • Hi Abigail,

      1.) Southwest allows each of your checked bags to weigh up to 50 pounds!

      2.) Correct! You receive 2 free checked bags, 1 carry-on bag, and 1 personal item, all free on Southwest flights.

      Reply

  32. My son just got charged $75 by Southwest flying from Detroit to Baltimore on his way to deployment in Bahrain. Had 3 bags for underneath and carried on a backpack and a garment bag with his dress uniforms. Not happy right now!

    Reply

  33. LJ Henzel May 28, 2021

    Can I bring a third carry-on bag if one is a CPAP in small case.
    I will have a brief case with PC and a small backpack plus my breathing machine (CPAP)

    Reply

  34. Sheila Watkins May 30, 2021

    I have my makeup in a clear bag in my purse with my jewelry in a bag also in my purse. Can I take it as a carry-on?

    Reply

    • Hi Sheila,

      You can bring a purse as a carry-on if you’d like, you’ll just need to stow it in the overhead bin. However, it is more common for a purse to be a personal item, in which case you’d stow it underneath the seat in front of you, unless your purse is too large to fit. Either way, you should be fine to bring it on the plane.

      Reply

  35. Kiteboards do not appear to be free on Southwests official site. It’s listed as free here though.

    Reply

  36. maiya tragesser June 22, 2021

    Can I bring a boogie board in luggage?

    Reply

  37. Hussain Ahmed Raza July 2, 2021

    If I have to pay for my luggage at the airport, can I pay using cash since I don’t have a credit card?

    Reply

    • Hi Hussain,
      Unfortunately, cash is not accepted at any domestic airport Southwest ticket counter. It is still accepted at international ticket counters. If you need more assistance I would suggest calling Southwest directly.

      Reply

  38. Sonya Burke July 16, 2021

    Aside from the 2 free checked bags, how many more bags can I check? I need to know the cost for each extra checked bag.

    Reply

    • Hi Sonya,

      The cost for each extra checked bag with Southwest is $75. Southwest does not list a limit to the number of checked bags you can have on a single flight on its website, so you would need to contact the customer service team directly for an answer to that. Safe travels!

      Reply

  39. If I were to bring 2 luggages and 1 carry on backpack, will that all be free? Or is it just 1 carry on and 1 luggage for it to be free?

    Reply

Any thoughts or questions? Comment below!

Advertiser Disclosure

Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which we receive financial compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). However, the credit card information that we publish has been written by experts who know these products inside out, and what we recommend is what we would (or already) use ourselves. This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers that are on the market. Click here to see a list of advertisers that we work with.