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Delta Air Lines Bag Fees: How They Work, How to Avoid Them

Aug. 30, 2019
Loyalty Programs, Travel, Travel Credit Cards
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Like most legacy carriers, Delta Air Lines charges checked bag fees on domestic and some international flights. To avoid putting an unwanted dent in your travel budget, it’s important to be aware of those fees ahead of time and strategize to avoid them if possible. Below is an overview of Delta’s checked bag fees and options to get them waived.

» Learn more: Delta Air Lines SkyMiles program: The complete guide

Check out our easy-to-use calculator below, which can help determine the “true” cost of your ticket including applicable baggage fees. It takes into account the factors above to give you a sense of whether booking a higher fare class may actually be worth it.

Note that this calculator only applies to domestic flights. International baggage rules on Delta are more complex.

Delta checked bag fees

Delta charges $30 for the first checked bag on flights between the U.S. and the following destinations:

  • U.S. (including Puerto Rico).
  • Canada.
  • U.S Virgin Islands.
  • Central America.
  • Caribbean.
  • Guyana.
  • Bermuda.
  • Mexico.

Fees for a second checked bag to these destinations range from $40 to $55. To Delta’s credit, there is a long list of other international destinations to which economy class passengers receive up to two free checked bags. It’s really domestic travel and basic economy where you’ll want a workaround to cover checked bag fees. Here are some options.

Free checked bags for premium cabin travelers

Delta offers up to two free checked bags to passengers traveling in first class, Delta Premium Select or Delta One. But barring a fare sale or mistake fare, premium cabin flights are generally going to cost you more than economy class.

However, if you’re traveling with a lot of luggage, it’s absolutely worth comparing fares in multiple classes vs. the bag fees you’ll pay booking economy or basic economy. You never know when you might stumble across a deal.

Free checked bags for Delta Medallion members

Delta Medallion members are eligible for waived checked bag fees for themselves and travel companions on the same reservation. Specific benefits will depend on your status level:

Silver Medallion 

  • One free checked bag within the U.S. and Canada.
  • One free checked bag in addition to the standard allowance on international flights.

Gold Medallion

  • Two free checked bags within the U.S. and Canada.
  • One free checked bag in addition to the standard allowance on international flights.

Platinum Medallion

  • Three free checked bags within the U.S. and Canada.
  • One free checked bag in addition to the standard allowance on international flights.

Diamond Medallion

  • Three free checked bags within the U.S. and Canada.
  • One free checked bag in addition to the standard allowance on international flights.

Free checked bags for active duty military

U.S. military personnel receive up to five checked bags for free when traveling on orders, regardless of fare class.

When traveling for personal reasons, members of the military can check up to two free bags when flying basic economy, main cabin or Delta Comfort+. Those traveling in premium cabins receive up to three free checked bags.

Credit cards that include free checked bags on Delta Air Lines

If these situations don’t apply to you, there are several co-branded Delta credit cards that offer one free checked bag for the primary cardholder and up to eight companions on the same reservation:

The annual fees on these cards vary widely. Whether you’ll get your money’s worth depends on how often you check bags with Delta, and whether you’ll use any of the other benefits offered by these credit cards.

» Learn more: Which Delta Air Lines credit card should you get?

Credit cards that cover airline incidentals

Airline credit cards can be limiting in terms of rewards and redemption options, which is why many people opt for credit cards that earn transferable rewards. An added benefit of these types of cards is that the premium versions offer travel credits that can be redeemed for travel expenses like checked bag fees.

For example, you can get an annual $200 credit with the The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express. You have to select one airline every year and stick to it, but beyond that redeeming the credit is easy: Just charge your baggage fees to the card and you’ll receive a statement credit up to the maximum of $200. Terms apply.

These cards carry hefty annual fees. If that’s a concern, you might want to consider the American Express® Gold Card instead. This card carries a lower annual fee and comes with a $100 fee credit that works the same way. Terms apply.

Another good flexible option is the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, which offers a $300 annual travel credit that’s applicable to all travel purchases.

The bottom line

Delta’s checked bag fees vary depending on your destination, travel class, elite status and whether you carry one of their co-branded credit cards. It can be difficult to figure out what you’ll really end up paying, especially if you book a basic economy ticket.

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 2019, including those best for:

Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Find the best travel credit card for you
5 things the Delta SkyMiles program gets right
Benefits of Delta Air Lines credit cards

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