More and more people are asking about baggage fees, and rightfully so. Baggage fees have become a confusing mess and every airline has a different policy, which can be daunting. Rather than going through each airline’s baggage policy, I’ll break down the basics every traveler should know. Prior to purchasing, keep these four basics in mind.

lots of baggage on cart in airport

Baggage basics

1. Baggage fees are per bag and per direction. So one way = one charge. Round trip = two charges. If your flight has a connection, bags will generally transfer from flight to flight and no additional fees will apply. There are a few exceptions – like if you are connecting from one airline to another and those two airlines don’t have a baggage agreement with each other; or if you actually purchase separate tickets for each leg of your connecting flight.  Both of these cases are very rare.

2. Although some web sites are more forthcoming about bag fees than others, these charges are set by the airline and do not change whether you buy your ticket over the phone or online, through the airline, or through a third party website. The bag charge will be the same. If a particular web site doesn’t list a charge for checked bags and another does, it’s simply because the first site is not revealing all of the associated fees – it’s not that they have a better deal!

3. Most airlines don’t charge bag fees for their top frequent flyers (those with “elite” status); members of the U.S. military; business and first class ticket holders; those who purchase fully refundable or other more expensive fares; and in some cases people who have the airlines’ branded credit card.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, onto the nitty gritty:

Checked baggage

For domestic flights, bag fees vary and range from free to $200. Southwest Airlines is famous for its “Bags Fly Free” policy – they allow two bags for no charge. But most airlines charge around $30 for the first bag and $35 for the second bag. (More than two can get really expensive.)

There has been a move in recent years by some airlines to include free baggage allowance (like the JetBlue model) with an upgraded seat. You can check with individual airlines to see if they offer this perk for booking a better class of service.

Baggage fees are based on piece, size and weight. If your bag is too big or too heavy, according to airline standard, you will have to pay extra fees. Bags that weigh more than 70 pounds usually fall into this category.


A common strategy now is to try to bring your bag on board with you to avoid bag fees. That’s usually a good idea, since nearly every airline allows for one free carry-on bag based on size and weight conditions (usually 45 linear inches and less than 30 pounds.) But a couple airlines, Spirit and Allegiant, will actually charge you for your carry-on, even more than the cost of a checked bag!

All airlines, however, including Spirit and Allegiant, allow you to bring one “personal item” such as a purse or laptop free of charge.

Domestic versus international

Another factor driving the costs of baggage fees is whether the flight is domestic or international. Passengers flying internationally can pay fees ranging from $0 – $350, depending on the class of service and destination. When traveling international, the calculation of baggage fees will depend on the destination.

When to pay your bag fees

More and more airlines are charging higher bag fees if you pay them at the airport, as opposed to paying them in advance on the airline’s website. For this reason, we always recommend you checking the airline web site in advance of your flight to see if you can prepay your bag fees. This will save a little time at the airport, too.

Confused yet? Check out our baggage fee charts.

This is a lot of detailed information. We’ve created comprehensive baggage fee charts to help you with your trip planning. Use them for every trip!

Have questions? Just email us at [email protected]

Note: These tips apply for flights to U.S. destinations.  Fees can vary for traveling outside the country.  Fees are valid as of 06/01/16 but are subject to change.











  1. I have economy Air Canada Rouge ticket # 014 9610588297 from Toronto to Corner Brook, NL. with one carry on bag. I am hoping to bring an optional bag (hostess gift) 64″ linear and 29.5 lbs.
    What would be the cost to attach it to my air ticket?

  2. I bought an international flight from Canada to Philippines where from Canada to Singapore via Air Canada and Singapore to Philippine via Singapore Airlines.
    Air Canada only allows 1 free checked baggage however Singapore Airlines allows 2 checked baggage per person. Should I be allowed to 2 free checked luggage from Canada? This flight itineraries was bought with 1 ticket.

    • Hi Ady, it sounds like Air Canada might be the main, long-haul carrier and their rules would apply. However, we cannot be certain without looking at your specific rules. If you booked with us please email [email protected] with your inquiry and one of our travel advisor will look at your reservation. If you booked elsewhere please reach out to them as we only have access to bookings made in our system. Happy Travels!

  3. I paid for one checked bag in May for a flight I’m taking on in July. I used the confirmation code on Frontier and my itinerary isn’t reflecting that I already paid for a checked bag. Who should I contact about this?

    • Hi Angel, On our website, we show that you purchased your Spirit Airlines baggage for your return flight. If you bought Frontier bags, you might have purchased directly with the airline when you checked in? You can contact the airline directly or email us at [email protected] if you have further questions. Thank you.

  4. Hi Thanks for your answers. I have 4 leg trip 3 different star alliance airlines. Each Airline offers 1 free bag. I booked (different website) and paid baggage bundle $70 approx. Does that mean I get 2x bags? 1x free one and 1x baggage bundle? I need to recheck in for each airline

  5. Hi.I booked ,economy class ,one way flight with Delta airlines ,from YQR Regina,Sk Canada to
    JFK New York ( 2 tboarding passes -Delta /Delta .. makes stop in YYZ Toronto)
    How many luggages I am allowed to check in & how much charge per luggage? ( their baggage allowance is very confusing)
    Also,will my checked in luggages go straight to New York?
    Thank You

    • Hi Snow, You should be checked all the way through to New York IF your ticket was bought as one ticket and not separately (even if you’re on two different airlines as long as the ticket was booked as one itinerary this will be the case). Did you buy your ticket with us? If so, please reach out to [email protected] and reference your 10-digit booking number to get that baggage allowance question answered. You’re right, the allowances can be confusing, so for this reason you need to get that question answered through whomever you booked the ticket (either the airline directly or the online travel agency that sold it to you). Good luck to you!

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