Southwest Airlines Baggage Policy & Fees Info

Flying with Southwest Airlines soon? You’re probably wondering about their baggage policy and fees. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know so there won’t be any surprises at the airport.

Southwest Airlines is known for their customer-friendly policies, and their baggage policy is no exception. Whether you’re a frequent flyer or it’s your first time, understanding these policies can save you time, money, and stress. So let’s dive right in and get you prepared for your next trip.

Overview of Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines is a major U.S. airline and the world’s largest low-cost carrier. Founded in 1967, it now serves over 100 destinations in the United States and ten additional countries. Southwest Airlines is highly recognized for its dedication to customer service, often ranking at the top for customer satisfaction among U.S. airlines.

The key to Southwest Airlines’ success is its customer-centric approach. The airline is committed to making air travel more accessible and enjoyable, and their policies reflect this commitment. Policies such as Transfarency®, which ensures there are no hidden fees in your fare, and the unique “bags fly free” stance, make it a preferred choice for many passengers. Southwest Airlines aims at maintaining transparency in its charges and emphasizes on keeping things simple.

Unique Baggage Policy and Fees

One of the things that sets Southwest apart is its baggage policy. Unlike many airlines, Southwest Airlines does not charge for the first or second checked bag. This can mean significant savings for you, especially if you’re traveling as a family or for an extended period. Also, their generous size and weight allowances for both checked and carry-on bags, plus a flexible policy on sporting equipment, makes traveling with luggage on Southwest a breeze.

To understand the baggage policy further, the next sections will provide a detailed breakdown of Southwest Airlines’ baggage rules, including size and weight limits, and special item guidelines. Being equipped with this knowledge will save you time at the airport and help you avoid any unexpected fees.

Please bear in mind that while Southwest Airlines is a low-cost carrier, some fees may apply, especially when it comes to excess or overweight baggage, as well as certain special items. As always, it’s advisable to verify any specific details relating to baggage with the airline before travel. This step ensures a hassle-free and comfortable trip.

Why Understanding the Baggage Policy is Important

In the world of air travel, knowledge is power. Understanding Southwest Airlines’ baggage policy is crucial as it could save you both time and money. If you’re not aware of the baggage rules, you may end up paying unexpected fees, not only that, you might also jeopardize your flight plans. This highlights that familiarizing yourself with Southwest’s baggage rules is beneficial.

Southwest Airlines prides itself on its ‘Bags Fly Free’ policy, allowing passengers to check two bags at no extra cost. Yet, it’s essential to note that these bags should meet the airline’s size and weight restrictions. The policy specifies that your checked bags can’t exceed 50 lbs and 62 inches (length + width + height). So if you’re planning a lengthy trip or carrying hefty cargo, being mindful of these restrictions allows you to pack suitably and make necessary arrangements if your bags overweight.

Also, let’s say you’re an athlete or you simply love to engage in sports during your leisure time. Southwest’s baggage policy is flexible on sporting equipment. But there’s a catch: certain equipment might incur extra fees.

When we turn to carry-on luggage, Southwest permits one bag alongside a smaller personal item. Yet, these also must meet the designated size requirements. By understanding these rules before embarking on your journey, you eliminate the risk of having to repack your belongings actively or check additional items at the airport.

Baggage Allowances for Checked Bags

When it comes to checked baggage allowances, Southwest Airlines gives you quite an advantage. Under their generous “Bags Fly Free” policy, two checked bags are allowed free of charge. That’s a significant savings opportunity compared to many competing airlines which charge for every checked piece of luggage.

While it’s free to check two pieces of luggage, keep in mind these bags have to adhere to specific size and weight restrictions. Each checked bag must not exceed 62 inches in total dimensions (height + width + length). Southwest Airlines carry out a weight restriction of 50 pounds per bag. Anything over these limits and you could be slapped with overweight or oversize fees. Considering these guidelines when packing your luggage is a smart way to avoid nasty surprises at the check-in counter.

On occasions, you might be traveling with more than two bags, or your luggage could potentially be larger or heavier than permissible. In these cases, the airline does levy certain charges:

Extra Bag/Overweight/Oversize Fee
3rd bag or more $75 per item
Overweight bag (51-100 pounds) $75 per item
Oversized bag (more than 62 inches) $75 per item

It’s noteworthy that items exempt from this policy include child restraint devices, mobility aids, and medical equipment, ensuring you don’t have to worry about packing essentials for your trip.

Beware of fees for special items too—sporting equipment often incurs extra charges, with the amount varying depending on the type of equipment. It’s always advisable to check the specific equipment policy before you fly, to ensure you’re prepared for any additional charges.

All these details about Southwest Airlines’ baggage policies eventually help** streamline your travel experience** while saving you the hassle of unexpected penalties. The more you know about what’s acceptable or not, the smoother and quicker your journey through the airport will be.

Baggage Allowances for Carry-on Bags

Navigating Southwest Airlines’ baggage policy begins with understanding the allowances for carry-on bags. Practicing a minimalist approach to packing can be quite beneficial here. As a passenger, you’re allowed one carry-on bag and one smaller personal item. This policy applies to all fare types – from Business Select to Wanna Get Away tickets.

Your carry-on bag needs to meet specific size requirements. In both the length and width, your bag must not exceed 10 by 16 inches and in height, it mustn’t surpass more than 24 inches. That includes handles and wheels! You’ll find these dimensions quite standard across many airlines. Yet, there’s no harm in double-checking your bag dimensions before the journey to avoid the stress of last-minute repacking.

What exactly qualifies as a personal item? Southwest Airlines considers items such as briefcases, purses, or laptop-sized bags as your allowed personal item. Even a mini backpack could work! The maximum dimensions accepted for your personal item are 18.5 by 13.5 inches (length and width) and at no more than 8.5 inches tall.

Item Maximum Size
Carry-on Bag 24x16x10 inches
Personal Item 18.5×13.5×8.5 inches

Bear in mind, the number of carry-ons and personal items might be subject to available overhead bin space on the aircraft. So, to ensure favorable seating with adequate storage, it’s useful to check in early. Don’t forget that there’s no specific weight restriction for carry-on bags, but you must be able to lift your item into the overhead bin.

In general, by carefully planning what you bring on board, you will avoid unexpected surprises at the airport. By sticking to Southwest Airlines’ carry-on policy, you’re well on your way to a seamless travel experience.

Baggage Fees for Excess or Oversized Bags

Southwest Airlines is quite popular for allowing two checked bags for free, unlike many other airlines. Yet, there’s an important part of the policy you must reckon with – the fees linked to excess or oversized baggage.

Suppose you’ve got more than two bags for checking, or perhaps your bag exceeds the permitted weight and size limit? It’s vital to grasp how additional charges will hit your pocket when traveling within the confines of Southwest’s baggage rules.

Additional bags beyond the permitted two are subject to a fee. Southwest Airlines charges you $75 per bag that crosses the allowance limit. This implies that if you’re aiming to travel light and maintain your budget, you’ve got to stick to the two-bag rule.

As for baggage that exceeds the size or weight restrictions, you’ll have to fork out a bit more. If your bag weighs more than 50 lbs, you are hitting the overweight baggage territory. This attracts a $75 overweight charge. Confirm the weight of your bag before your trip to evade unexpected baggage fees.

Size matters too! If your checked bag stretches beyond 62 inches in total dimensions (length, width, height), an oversized baggage fee of $75 is levied. Always keep a tab on the size of your bag, especially when packing big items.

Let’s see how these charges stack up against the allowable dimensions with the table below:

  Allowance Fee
Additional Bag >2 $75
Overweight Bag >50lbs $75
Oversized Bag >62 inches total dimension $75

Certain items, such as medical equipment and child restraint devices, don’t attract these fees. Given these exceptions, do take note of the specifics while preparing for your journey. Your awareness of the Southwest Airlines baggage policy is a step towards a hassle-free and budget-friendly travel experience.

Special Considerations for Sports Equipment and Musical Instruments

Southwest Airlines is recognized for its generously inclusive baggage policy. But, when it comes to sports equipment and musical instruments, special rules can apply. As an informed traveler, understanding these can make a huge difference in your overall travel experience.

Typically, these items won’t cost you additional fees if they fit within the standard size and weight limits of checked baggage—but it’s essential to know that certain items might be subject to unique restrictions.

Let’s break down sports equipment first. Items like baseball bats, fishing rods, and hockey sticks are allowed but must be properly encased. Be aware that checking in a bicycle will result in an additional $75 charge. Skis and golf bags, interestingly, can be substituted for one checked bag without an extra fee, as long as they adhere to the weight and size rules.

Musical instruments, on the other hand, have their own set of guidelines —defined by the Federal Aviation Administration— not only do their dimensions need to meet Southwest’s carry-on size limits, equipment cases must be able to fit in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you. If it’s too large to fit, you’ll need to purchase an additional seat for your instrument.

Also, be mindful of how busy travel days might impact your experience. On high-volume flight days, overhead bin space could fill up rapidly, influencing your ability to bring your instrument onboard.

Take note, it’s beneficial to check the airline’s specific policies about sports gear and musical instruments for a hassle-free journey. Keep in mind that these rules can change, so it’s best to check for any updates before you plan your trip.

Faithful adherence to these guidelines will certainly help you escape unnecessary headaches, fees, and time drains at the airport. In the long run, you’ll be grateful that you took a few minutes to familiarize yourself with these particular rules and regulations.

Tips to Avoid Baggage Fees

The key to avoiding additional baggage fees with Southwest Airlines is staying informed and prepared. Whether it’s packing light, understanding the size limits, or knowing the specific rules for your sports equipment and musical instruments, a little preparation can save you a lot of money.

Remember, Southwest Airlines allows passengers to check two bags for free. But, make sure each bag doesn’t exceed the airline’s size and weight limits. If it’s possible for you, try to consolidate your items into fewer bags. This could help you avoid the extra cost of checking additional bags.

If you’re a sports enthusiast or a musician, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the specific rules related to your equipment. Fishing rods and baseball bats, for example, must be properly encased. If you’re traveling with a bicycle, be prepared for an additional $75 fee. Also, if you carry musical instruments you’ll need to ensure they fit into the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you.

It’s also important to note that Southwest Airlines allows one carry-on bag and one smaller personal item at no extra charge. Make sure these items conform to the airline’s specified size requirements. Keep in mind that the number of carry-ons and personal items may also be dependent on the available overhead bin space. If you’re not sure how to measure your baggage, many airports have baggage sizers at check-in counters and at the gate.

Taking the time to familiarize yourself with Southwest Airlines’ baggage allowance rules before you start packing can save you time, stress, and potentially, a lot of money. So, review the specifics online or contact customer service for in-depth information. Staying prepared can no doubt, help you have a smooth and pleasant journey.


Navigating Southwest Airlines’ baggage policy doesn’t have to be a challenging job. With their “Bags Fly Free” policy, you’re allowed to check two bags without any extra fees, as long as they meet the size and weight restrictions. Keep in mind, special items like sports equipment and musical instruments have their own set of rules. It’s crucial to stay informed and prepared to avoid unexpected charges. Remember, packing light, consolidating items, and ensuring your carry-on meets the airline’s size requirements are key ways to dodge excessive fees. By familiarizing yourself with Southwest’s specific policies, you can save time, stress, and money on your next trip. So, before you fly, take a moment to check these rules. It’s a small step that can make your journey with Southwest Airlines a breeze.

What is Southwest Airlines’ “Bags Fly Free” policy?

Southwest Airlines’ “Bags Fly Free” policy allows passengers to check two bags without additional charges. However, these bags must adhere to the airline’s size and weight restrictions to avoid any excess fees.

What are the airline’s carry-on rules?

For carry-on luggage, Southwest permits one bag and a personal item such as a purse or briefcase. Both items must meet Southwest’s specific size restrictions and may be subject to available overhead bin space on the aircraft.

Are there specific baggage allowances for checked bags?

Yes, Southwest Airlines allows two checked bags for free, provided they meet the airline’s size and weight restrictions. Additional bags, overweight bags, or oversized bags are subject to extra charges.

Are there any exemptions to these charges?

Yes, certain items like child restraint devices and medical equipment are exempt from these charges. It’s important to check with the airline’s specific policies regarding these items before flying.

Are there additional fees for special items like sports equipment?

Yes, certain sporting equipment may incur extra fees. Items such as baseball bats and fishing rods are allowed but must be properly encased. Additionally, bicycles carry an additional $75 charge, though skis and golf bags can be substituted for a checked bag without any extra fee.

What are Southwest’s rules for traveling with musical instruments?

Musical instruments must meet Southwest’s carry-on size requirements and must fit either in the overhead bin or under the seat. Extraordinarily large instruments may require the purchase of an additional seat.

How can I avoid unexpected baggage fees when traveling with Southwest Airlines?

To avoid unexpected baggage fees, passengers should pack light, consolidate items into fewer bags, and familiarize themselves with the airline’s specific rules for carry-on and checked bags, special sports equipment, and musical instruments. Ensuring that all items meet Southwest’s size and weight requirements is also crucial.

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