Delta Air Lines Follows Others and Raises Checked Bag Fees

Delta, United, American, JetBlue and Alaska have all raised checked bag fees this year.
Sally French
By Sally French 
Edited by Meghan Coyle

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.


Checking your bags has become more expensive across multiple major airlines. Delta Air Lines has raised its bag fees by $5 to $35 for the first checked bag and $45 for the second checked bag on domestic flights.

It is the latest in a series of hikes in fees among major airlines. United Airlines also raised its bag fees last month by $5 if passengers wait to check bags within 24 hours of departure. Now, the first checked bag for domestic trips will now cost $35 in advance or $40 at check-in. A second checked bag will now cost $45 in advance or $50 at check-in.

Similarly, American Airlines announced in February that domestic bag fees would increase by as much as 33%. For domestic flights, the old $30 fee for the first checked bag is now $35 if purchased online or $40 if purchased at the airport.

In January, Alaska Airlines bag fees increased by $5, bringing the cost to $35 for the first bag and $45 for the second bag.

JetBlue Airways also swooped in with a bag fee increase this month for passengers who don’t plan ahead. The first checked bag is still $35 if you pay for it 24 hours before departure. But if you wait until within 24 hours of departure to check a bag, the fee has increased from $40 to $45.

It’s all part of the ongoing trend of unbundling airfare, as seen with the proliferation of basic economy fares. These no-frills fares often guarantee you a seat on the plane, but not much else. Basic economy fares can cost far less than main cabin, but in basic economy, the ability to select your seat, check a bag or be among the first to board almost always incurs an extra fee. You may even have to pay to carry on more than a personal item.

For passengers who check bags, the price hikes can feel unsettling. But it’s not all bad news. American Airlines lowered some checked luggage fees for bags that are barely overweight or oversized. Starting April 17, a bag that weighs from 50 to 53 pounds will cost $30 extra, instead of the typical $100 to $200 fee for any bag over 50 pounds.

And if you don’t need to check a bag, you might be able to get cheaper tickets than you would have in the past.

Airfares are getting cheaper, data shows

While fees are indeed on the rise, airfares have seen a significant decrease not just in recent months, but over many years. Average fares for flights from the U.S. in January 2024 fell 6% compared with January 2023, according to consumer price index data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics published in February. Fare costs are even down 15% versus a decade ago.

Growing demand for basic economy fares could be contributing to lower average airfares. For example, United Airlines reported in its fourth quarter 2023 financial results that its basic economy option saw a 20% revenue increase compared with the fourth quarter in 2022.

United’s basic economy airfares average 22.3% cheaper than standard economy airfares, according to NerdWallet's analysis for its annual best airline awards. Most other airlines offer similar basic economy discounts. For example, American Airlines’ basic economy fares averaged 24.7% cheaper than economy, based on the same analysis.

Meanwhile, fees are a growing revenue stream: Airlines worldwide collected $33.3 billion in baggage fee revenue in 2023, according to an analysis of airlines' ancillary revenue disclosures by the consulting firm IdeaWorksCompany. This means bag fees comprised 4.1% of overall airline revenue, compared with 3.7% of 2019 revenue, the IdeaWorksCompany analysis found.

How to save on bag fees

The trend of rising bag fees but lower airfares might be a net win for passengers who don’t mind having just the bare essentials that come with basic economy. Traveling without a checked bag can be one of the best ways to save.

But even if you need to check a bag, you might still be able to do so for free. For starters, book flights with airlines that offer free baggage. Southwest Airlines offers two free checked bags to all passengers, no matter your fare class.

Other airlines, including Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines, offer free checked bags — but only to loyal customers. Travelers who hold elite status in the airlines' loyalty programs receive complimentary bags. Many airline co-branded credit cards also offer cardholders their first checked bag free on domestic flights.

Featured photo courtesy of United Airlines.

Travel Cards from Our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.


Intro offer


Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.


Intro offer


Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.


Intro offer


Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

See more travel cards
Get more smart money moves – straight to your inbox
Sign up and we’ll send you Nerdy articles about the money topics that matter most to you along with other ways to help you get more from your money.