UPDATED: April 10, 2022

Are you planning to book a flight via Southwest Airlines? Do you want to have a definite budget for your next trip?

The Bureau of Transportation reported that in 2020, airlines collected a total of $2,839,304 from baggage fees alone. If you don’t want to be one of the passengers who pay such fees, you need to know how to avoid them. 

Let’s take a look at Southwest Airlines. We've done the research and verified with Southwest its baggage fees and exclusions.

If you’re aware of Southwest baggage prices, you can plan your travel better and how much fee you must pay. You can avoid coming to the airport with unexpected excess baggage and paying extra fees, so don’t skip over this article!

How Much Do You Need to Pay for Southwest Baggage Fees?

In this section, you’ll discover how much Southwest collects for your luggage and the essential things you need to know for each category.

You’ll also find a table comparing Southwest airlines' baggage fees.

Carry-on allowance

Here are a few things to remember:

  • Your carry-on is free as long as you follow the airline’s limit.
  • The carry-on size limit is 24 x 16 inches x 10 inches.
  • The airline requires you to store your carry-on in the overhead bin. That’s why it imposes a size limit.
  • Southwest also allows you to bring one small personal item. It must fit in the space under the seat, so it must be less than 16.25 x 13.5 x 8 inches. You can bring a laptop, purse, camera, or briefcase.

Meanwhile, you can bring the following objects without complying with the one-personal-item rule.

  • Assistive or mobility devices
  • Child restraint systems
  • Outer garments, such as jackets, coats, or blazers

Checked baggage fees

Aside from one carry-on and one personal item, you can also have two checked baggage for free.

Below are other things that you can bring without paying any fees. But this offer is only available in some locations.

  • Snow ski equipment, such as one set of poles, one pair of skis or one snowboard, and one pair of ski boots
  • You can also substitute a golf bag for one checked baggage.

Some guidelines for your next flight:

  • Your checked bag must weigh 50 pounds or less, or it must be within 62 inches in length, width, and height.
  • Make sure to tag your checked bag with personal details and keep it unlocked so the Transportation Security Administration’s personnel can quickly assess your baggage.
  • Southwest baggage check in time is 45 minutes before a domestic flight or 60 to 75 minutes before an international flight.

Excess baggage fees

If you go over the two checked baggage limits, Southwest charges a $75 fee per bag each way. It means that you have to pay $75 for each booked flight. Similar to the two checked baggage, your third luggage must also be 50 pounds or less or not more than 62 inches in length, width, and height.

If not, it will be subject to two charges: excess and oversized baggage fees.

Overweight baggage fees

If your checked bag exceeds the 50-pound limit, the airline will collect a $75 overweight baggage fee.

But if you want to bring large media camera equipment, it will not be subject to any fees.

Southwest checked bag weight limit is only up to 100 pounds. Any item that weighs more than that must be shipped as Air Cargo, where the fee will be computed per kilogram.

Oversized baggage fees

As mentioned in the excess baggage category, Southwest Airlines will collect an extra fee of $75 per luggage that weighs more than 50 pounds up to 100 pounds.

If you need to bring large media camera equipment that exceeds the limit, the airline will not ask for additional charges.

Carry-on bag$0
Carry-on personal item$0
Two checked bags$0
Third and more checked bags
Active duty military officers
Large Media Camera Equipment
Overweight baggage
Active duty military officers
Large Media Camera Equipment
Oversized baggage
Active duty military officers
Large Media Camera Equipment

As you’d notice, military personnel on active duty are exempted from paying for checked luggage, as well as overweight and oversized bags. You must present your valid military ID to be eligible for Southwest military baggage exemption.

Does Southwest Airlines Accept Pre-Payment for Baggage?

Currently, Southwest Airlines doesn’t allow its customers to pre-pay for checked bags. Hence, you’ll pay at the airport’s ticketing counter.

How Can You Avoid Southwest Baggage Fees?

The best way to avoid Southwest Airlines’ baggage fees is by complying with the two carry-on, and two checked luggage limits. However, check out the following tips if you really need to bring overweight, oversized, or more than two checked bags.

Contact luggage shipping alternatives

Did you know you don’t always need to bring your luggage to the airport? You can book at shipping companies for them to transport your bags, allowing you to skip the long lines at the airport and pay for lower baggage fees.

Some shipping companies to check out:

Generally, here’s what you need to do when shipping your baggage through other companies.

  1. Go to the website.
  2. Sign up by providing your full name, email address, phone number, and password.
  3. Select the pick-up location, destination, and bags to know the rates.
  4. Input luggage and trip details.
  5. Choose when you want your bags to be delivered.
  6. Pay the fees using a debit or credit card.

Use credit cards that reimburse baggage fees

If you want to have your bags with you during the flight, there’s another way to avoid the extra charges.

Some banks and financial institutions allow their clients to reimburse  baggage fees. You may want to use these cards when paying for your checked bags.

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card
  • Citi Prestige Card
  • American Express Gold Card
  • American Express Platinum Card

Make sure to include the frequent flyer number to your reservation so you can have free checked bags. In Southwest Airlines, you need to fly at least 25 one-way flights within one year to be considered a frequent flyer.

Take advantage of exclusions and waivers

In Southwest, active and non-active military officers are exempted from paying baggage fees, whether oversized, overweight, or excess bags. 

Military personnel travelling on active duty only need to present their valid military ID, while non-active officers must have their certification so they won’t pay baggage costs.

What Items Are Prohibited In Your Baggage?

To avoid problems with your checked baggage, make sure to check its contents. Did you know that if you have prohibited items in your luggage, they’ll be disposed of by the TSA? Some airports also donate such objects to schools and other organizations.

Either way, you wouldn’t want to lose personal items. Here are the things you shouldn’t include in your carry-on and checked bags.

Personal items

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 7
  • Torch lighters

You might be surprised that airlines don’t allow passengers to bring Samsung Galaxy Note 7. But in 2016, the US Department of Transportation banned the particular phone model after incidents of overheating.

Household items
Alcoholic beverages over 140 proofLiquid bleach
Party poppersFertilizer
Cooking spraySpray paint
Chlorine for pools and spasVehicle airbags
Flammable objects
Bang snapsCO2 cartridge
Lighter fluidCanned oxygen containers
Cooking fuelCompressed gas cartridges
Strike-anywhere matchesSparklers
Firecracker and fireworksBear spray
Flammable liquid and paints
Guns and ammunition
Loaded firearmsGun powder
Loose ammunitionGun lighters
Flare gunsTear gas

Machines and equipment

  • Chainsaws, generators, and trimmers
  • Engine-powered motors, pumps, vacuums, drills, and nail guns


  • Spillable batteries, except in wheelchairs
  • Realistic replicas of explosives and firearms

Can You Hold Airlines Accountable for Damage to Checked Bags?

The US Department of Transportation states that airlines are responsible for damaged luggage, including its contents, when the damage occurs during transportation.

But when the damage cannot be repaired, the airline and passenger should negotiate compensation based on the bag's value.

Limits on liability

  • $3,800 for domestic flights
  • $1,780 for international flights

In case of damage, Southwest Airlines instructs passengers to the Baggage Service Office within four hours from arrival. You can see the office at the ticket counter or the baggage claim area. You can also call 1-800-435-9792 if you’ve already left the airport.

Although the DOT stated that airlines could also be held liable for damaged handles, wheels, and straps of baggage, Southwest clarified that it would not give compensation for damage arising from normal wear and tear. This includes scratches, stains, dents, punctures, scuffs, and marks.

Are Southwest Airlines Baggage Fees Reasonable?

With Southwest Airlines, you can get up to two free carry-ons and two checked baggage, both having size restrictions. 

You’ll only pay when you have oversized, overweight, or excess baggage. If you want to pay lower fees, try contacting other shipping companies. You can also avoid extra charges by using credit cards that reimburse bag fees or presenting your military ID.

In sum, Southwest Airlines has passenger-friendly baggage fees, but you can still pay lower costs to none. May you have fun on your next travel adventures!