Southwest Airlines Baggage Fees and Other Extras: What Flyers Can Expect
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Light packers and overpackers can rejoice while flying on Southwest Airlines. The carrier's generous policy allows two free checked bags up to 50 pounds.
But is it all too good to be true? Are there hidden Southwest baggage fees that you should be aware of before you snag a Wanna Get Away fare?
Check out this guide on Southwest Airlines' luggage policy as well as other fees to be aware of.
Southwest carry-on policy
Southwest carry-on baggage fees are non-existent. It costs exactly $0 to bring your first carry-on bag and your second carry-on bag (a personal item) onto a Southwest Airlines flight. So if you prefer not checking bags, you don't have to worry about having to pay extra for a carry-on bag.
Southwest checked bag policy
Southwest allows travelers to bring two checked bags for free. This is an incredibly generous luggage policy, especially since some consider Southwest to be a budget airline.
If other airlines offer a free checked bag, it's usually one rather than two — or only available on specific flights, such as those to certain international destinations.
Plus, on some of the most restrictive airline tickets (i.e. basic economy), there is no free checked bag allowance, period.
Southwest, however, has the same baggage rules whether you’re on a Business Select or a Wanna Get Away fare.
Southwest overweight bag fee
Be careful, though. If your bag is deemed overweight (over 50 to 100 pounds) or oversize (larger than 62 inches up to 80 inches), you'll be charged $75 per bag.
How much is a third bag on Southwest?
If you 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, skis and snowboards, and more.
If you’re packing for an adventurous trip, we recommend first reading all of Southwest’s terms and conditions for checking sports equipment.
» Learn more: A quick guide to airlines with free baggage
How many bags does Southwest allow for military?
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 plus height plus width).
» Learn more: Bookmark these military travel discount sites
Other Southwest fees
Beyond unusual baggage situations, be prepared to foot an additional bill for the following incidentals and services.
Change/cancellation fees: None
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: $15-$25
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 of $15, $20 or $25 one way. This will give you a better boarding position (though boarding first, with Group A, isn’t promised), earlier access to precious overhead bin space and automated check-in.
» Learn more: How to hack Southwest's boarding groups
Upgraded boarding fees: $30-$50
When available, Southwest passengers can pay $30, $40 or $50 per flight (depending on the 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.
You can upgrade online at Southwest's upgraded boarding page.
Unaccompanied minor fees: $50
Is your kiddo age 5-11 and flying by alone? Expect to pay $50 per child for this service.
Pet fees: $95
Your furry friend can join you on board for $95 per pet carrier.
» Learn more: The best airlines for traveling with pets
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.
» Learn more: Airlines with the best (and worst) fees
How do Southwest fees compare to other airlines'?
Southwest has offered a customer-friendly fee structure for years. And as other airlines continue to add new and more expensive fees, Southwest has stayed true to its roots.
Put simply: Southwest doesn't charge for the most important add-ons, while other airlines do. This makes it easy to know that the price you see when searching for a flight is the price you're likely to pay at checkout.
Southwest baggage rules recapped
Southwest allows you to check two bags up to 50 pounds 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 various amounts out of pocket. Knowing what Southwest baggage fees are out there — not to mention other fees — will help you better budget and prepare for your next Southwest flight.
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