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The price to check a bag is ticking up among major airline carriers.
Alaska Airlines is just the latest airline to raise its checked bag prices. On Dec. 5, prices will rise $5 to $30 for the first checked bag. And that’s just the start of it.
Here’s what you need to know.
While the first checked bag fee is increasing by $5 to $30, the fee to check a second bag will jump $15 to $40. The fee to check a third bag will be $100, which is an increase of $25.
Overweight and oversized checked luggage fees will also jump from $75 to $100. The overweight fee jump is a good reason to weigh your luggage at home. You don’t want a pound or two above the 50-pound luggage limit to cost you $100.
You can’t escape the trend just by booking another airline.
In August, JetBlue hiked checked baggage fees. The new fee is the same as Alaska Airlines for first and second bags, but the third bag on JetBlue will cost $150 to check.
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United’s new first and second bag prices are the same as Alaska Airlines in the United States, but second checked bag prices to and from Canada rose $15 to $50. American Airlines’ recent checked baggage fee increase is priced similarly for domestic travel, as is Delta Air Lines.
Grab the calendar
You still have time to avoid the fee increases. If you don’t want to pay a little more to lug home holiday gifts than usual, consider booking tickets before Dec. 5. Price increases are based on the date the ticket is purchased and not the date actually flown, allowing travelers the chance to book for the holidays, or even next summer, and still avoid the rate hike.
There’s another way to avoid the fee: Buy wine. You can avoid the fee if you’re a Mileage Plan member and are bringing a protectively packaged case of wine home from Oregon, Washington or California.
Active duty service members or dependents with a valid military ID and travel orders can get up to five bags for free. Alaska residents who are part of Club 49 and have an Alaskan city in their itinerary get two free checked bags, too.
If there’s an additional reason you need to stay loyal to one airline, it’s that frequent travelers who earn status often get to check baggage for free. Alaska Airlines MVP level members, which is generally a level for those flying at least 20,000 in one year, get two free checked bags for themselves and one companion traveler. First class travelers also get two free checked bags.
Pick a card, any card
Alaska Airlines is not alone in offering free checked bags for cardholders of their co-branded credit cards. But it’s a pretty great deal that a cardholder can get his first bag checked for free, as well as the first bag of up to six additional guests on the reservation.
» Learn More: Find the best airline credit card for you
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Travel rewards bucket list: Showering on a plane How to snag credit card rewards flights in peak season This strategy is how I started earning major travel rewards