Southwest Baggage Fees, Other Extras: What Flyers Can Expect

It won't cost you a thing to check a bag or change your flight reservation with Southwest.
Mar 25, 2022

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Light packers and overpackers can rejoice while flying on Southwest Airlines — its generous policy allows two free checked bags up to 50 pounds.

But is it all too good to be true? Are there hidden Southwest Airlines fees that you should be aware of before you snag that Wanna Get Away fare? Check out this guide on checked bags and other fees to be aware of.

Southwest baggage fees you need to know

Carry-on baggage fees

It costs exactly $0 to bring your first carry-on bag, your second carry-on bag (personal item), your first checked bag and your second checked bag onto a Southwest Airlines flight. That means packing extra shoes “just in case” won’t set you back financially.

Be careful, though. If your bag is deemed overweight (between 50 and 100 pounds) or oversize (larger than 62 inches up to 80 inches), you will be dinged an additional $75 per bag.

Extra baggage fees

If you decide to check a third bag, you’ll have to pay $75 per bag. This same fee applies to checking sports equipment, including archery gear, a boogie or kneeboard, bicycles and more. If you’re packing for a super sporty getaway, we recommend first reading all of Southwest’s terms and conditions for checking sports equipment.

Military baggage fees

Military traveling on active duty or permanent change of station orders are exempt from the two-bag limit and can check overweight and oversize bags for free. However, none of the pieces can exceed 100 pounds or 80 inches (length + height + width).

Other Southwest fees

Beyond unusual baggage circumstances, be prepared to foot an additional bill for the following incidentals and services.

Change/cancellation fees

Another perk of flying Southwest is that there are no flight change fees added on top of fare differences when you make a switch — or just flat-out cancel your flight, which also costs $0.

EarlyBird check-in fees

Southwest’s unique boarding system requires passengers to check in 24 hours in advance to digitally race for their place in line. If you want to avoid that chaos altogether, you can pay an EarlyBird Check-In fee for $15, $20 or $25 one-way. This will give you a better boarding position (though boarding group A isn’t promised), earlier access to precious overhead bin space and automated check-in.

Upgraded boarding fees

When available, Southwest flyers can pay $30, $40 or $50 per flight (depending on your itinerary) to secure a position in the A1–A15 boarding group. Since you can’t book specific seats on Southwest, this can be a great elective fee to improve your chances of nabbing an aisle seat at the front of the plane.

Unaccompanied minor fees

Is your kiddo age 5-11 and flying by themselves? Expect to pay $50 per child for this service.

Pet fees

Your furry friend can join you on board for a cool $95 per pet carrier.

In-flight fees

If you can’t make it to your destination without a quick drink or some inbox maintenance, expect to pay $6-$7 per serving of wine, beer or liquor, plus $8 for Wi-Fi internet access.

If you need to pay for Southwest Airlines baggage or extra fees

Southwest allows you to check up to two 50-pound bags without paying any fees. This perk can save travelers a lot of money, especially since most other domestic airlines charge for checking a bag. Extra bags, overweight and oversize bags will incur a charge. So if you want to avoid paying Southwest’s baggage fees, stick to one carry-on and two checked pieces of luggage.

Other services, like pet cargo or modified bookings, will cost you various amounts out of pocket. Knowing what Southwest fees are out there — for baggage and more — will help you better budget and prepare for your next Southwest flight.

Frequently asked questions

Your first two checked bags are free on Southwest, as long as the bags do not exceed 50 pounds and 62 inches on any side. If your items are larger than that (but less than 100 pounds and smaller than 80 inches on any side), you’ll need to pay $75 per item, each way. Anything larger than that must be shipped as air cargo.

If you have more than two bags to check, you’ll pay $75 per item, each way.

Southwest customers can carry on one bag and one small personal item.

The personal item must be small enough to fit under the seat in front of you (18.5 x 8.5 x 13.5 inches), and can include purses, briefcases, cameras, food containers or laptops (as examples). The carry-on bag must be stored in the overhead bin and can be no larger than 10 x 16 x 24 inches.

No, there is no fee for carry-on bags. Per federal regulations, you’re limited to one bag and one small personal item. Otherwise, you’ll have to check any remaining items (you get your first two checked bags free on Southwest).

As long as it’s contained in disposable packaging, food for consumption during flight does not count as a carry-on bag.

Yes, if you can bring it through security, you can bring it on the airplane. You can also bring food purchased inside the airport onto the flight. FAA regulations prohibit passengers from drinking alcohol on the aircraft unless it is served by the air carrier.

If you prefer to eat Southwest’s food, complimentary snacks and nonalcoholic drinks are available on flights longer than 250 miles. Alcoholic beverages are usually available for purchase. Some longer flights have additional complimentary snacks.

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