Southwest Airlines Baggage Policy and Fees

Traveling with Southwest Airlines, you have a free allowance of 2 checked baggage or 2 carry-on baggage. Now it can be among these specified items- Golf Bags and Skis that you can carry along in terms of free checked baggage. But they should meet the Southwest baggage weight limit requirements. If you carry more than two bags, you are liable to pay Southwest baggage fees for extra baggage. The same applies to carry-on bags. 

Southwest Airlines Baggage Policy

Southwest is one of the most lenient airlines that allow passengers to travel with 2 free baggage. However, most people ignore the size and weight limit. Some even get confused between checked and carry-on bags. Just be patient and you will understand it all, this article will help you clear the concept of the baggage policy of Southwest Airlines.

Checked Baggage

Usually, the travel bags which you use to carry a majority of your belongings are counted as baggage. These are larger in size than usual backpacks like trolleys and large rollover bags. Without any additional fees up to two bags per person allows at Southwest check in, and the weight limit for each bag is 50 pounds. You can directly check in your bags at the ticket counter and get them tagged for later drop-off. You can also utilize the self-service kiosks, then print out your baggage tags and hand them over at the baggage drop-off area. You can also check in and tag your bags online or via the Southwest Airlines mobile app before arriving at the airport.

Allowance and Extra Fee

Here are the size allowance and limitations for Checked baggage along with the fees you need to pay for any extra baggage-

  • Up to 50 pounds each
  • 62 inches in size (length + width + height)
  • Three+ bags: $75 each
  • Oversized bag: $75 (max 80 inches)
  • Overweight bag: $75 (max 100 lbs.)

Carry-on Baggage

The rules for Carryon Baggage are similar to that of checked baggage but the size limit of a permit is much smaller. The requirement of your carry-on and personal items to adhere to the carry-on rules will only allow you to carry them onboard. The carry-on bag will be adjusted in the overhead bin above your seat. While the personal item will be shifted to the compartment below the seat. However, if you are carrying your pet with you on the flight, that will count as a personal item. For this, you can read about Southwest pet policy.

Allowance and Extra Fee

The size allowance for your carry-on, limitations, and fees included are mentioned below-

Carryon bag-

  • Size limit for the bag: 24*"(Length) +16"(Width)+10"(Height)
  • You can carry- Roller bag, small suitcase, etc. which will go in the overhead bin.

Personal Item-

  • The personal item must fit in: 16.25"(Length)+13.5"(Width)+8"(Height) space under the seat.
  • You can carry- a backpack, purse, laptop bag, etc. that can fit under the seat.


  • The dimensions of the seats vary on different aircraft, these dimensions are the smallest possible dimensions available under the seat.
  • If you are traveling with, or carrying your pet, the carrier will be counted as a carry-on or personal item and should adhere to the size limit.
  • There are no additional fees for carry-on or personal items exceeding the size limit, they will simply be counted as checked baggage and should be then checked at the counters.

What Does Southwest Consider Oversized Or Overweight Baggage?

Southwest Airlines has a baggage policy where you can carry weights of up to 50 pounds. But what if it exceeds the 50-pound mark? This will be considered overweight baggage. 

  • Overweight baggage has a limit from 50 pounds up to 100 pounds.
  • The policy also states if the baggage has a size limit greater than 62 inches and up to 80 inches, it is considered oversized baggage. 
  • Anything that exceeds the size and weight limit of oversized and overweight baggage must be shipped using Air Cargo.

How to check bags for international flights?

If you are traveling at any international destination, rules might be different and you must keep these things in mind-

  • You will have to check-in using the Kiosks Self-check-in or via an agent at the counter.
  • While traveling internationally check-in via curbside is not permitted. 
  • You must check-in at the airport 60 minutes before the departure of your scheduled plane. 
  • Exceptionally, if you are traveling to Aruba, you must check-in 75 minutes before the scheduled departure.
  • Connecting passengers must claim their baggage first upon arrival in the US, no matter where they are traveling to. 
  • You must re-check your bags after going through customs before your departure.

What are the checked baggage rules for military personnel?

If a military personnel is on active duty or has a permanent change of station orders with a valid military ID-

  • They will be exempt from all kinds of baggage limits, including 2 checked bags, oversized bags, and overweight bags. 
  • The baggage size and weight must not exceed 80 inches and 100 pounds respectively. 
  • Any bag exceeding the size or weight limit will be shipped as cargo.

What is the Check-in time for baggage for Domestic Flights

If you are traveling domestically, the rules get varied compared to international travel-

  • You must check in 45 minutes prior to your departure. 
  • Any baggage checked in less than 45 minutes of scheduled departure might not be on the same plane you are flying on. 
  • Southwest Airlines is not liable to pay for the luggage that does not arrive with you.

Is Southwest Responsible for Lost & Damaged Baggage?

Southwest Airlines has a strict policy regarding lost or damaged bags that states-

  • Sometimes normal damage caused to your luggage due to wear and tear, such as cuts, scratches, scuffs, stains, dents, punctures, marks, and dirt is not the airline's fault. And Southwest Airlines flights will not be liable or responsible for any such damages.
  • Southwest's liability is limited to 1288 Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) for any baggage lost, damaged, or delayed whether it's checked or unchecked.
  • The SDRs are a right to passengers passed under the Montreal Convention of Warsaw Convention according to which you will receive a compensation of roughly $1731. For learning more about International Monetary Fund visit the official website.

What if my carry-on needs to be checked at the gate?

At any given airport, the check-in counter is the place for carry-on bags to be checked at. These bags will fly along with you in the overhead bin or under the seat. After arrival, you can collect them at the baggage claim. You need to claim any assistive device and strollers at the gate/jet bridge. If your bags are to be checked please make sure to remove the following things-

  • Medication
  • E-cigarettes
  • Power-banks
  • Smart-Bag batteries
  • Spare batteries
  • Assistive devices (i.e., canes, etc.)
  • Keys

What carry-on or personal items are not counted against the TSA limit?

TSA screens passengers using millimeter wave advanced imagining technology and walk-through metal detectors. The items that are not counted against the TSA limit are-

  • A child restraint system.
  • Assistive/mobility devices for disabled passengers. You can bring unlimited assistive/mobility devices for passengers with a disability on board.
  • Wearable articles of clothing and outer garments.
  • Food in disposable packaging.
  • Walking canes or umbrellas.

Special Baggage And Sports Equipment

The airlines have special allowances for specific sports equipment some only for specific routes. In substitution to one or both checked baggage, you will be allowed to carry sports equipment that is absolutely free to carry. However, if the equipment exceeds any of these 50 pounds in weight or 62 inches in size mark, additional fees and charges may apply. Check out below what Southwest allows you to carry as sports equipment.  

What sports equipment can I bring?

The below-mentioned items can be checked in place of checked baggage and must adhere to the minimum size and weight requirements-

  • Archery equipment (including a bow, arrows, and an average-size target)
  • Baseball and softball equipment (four bats, one helmet, one pair of cleats, one uniform, one glove, and one pair of batting gloves all in one bag)
  • Boogie or kneeboard 
  • Bowling equipment (ball(s) and shoes in one bag)
  • Bicycles (nonmotorized and having a single seat)
  • Fishing tackle box and fishing rod
  • Golf equipment (including clubs, balls, and shoes in one bag)
  • Hockey and/or lacrosse equipment (consisting of pads, helmets, pants, jersey, gloves, and skates in one bag)
  • Blades (knives, dress sabers, and swords)
  • Parachutes
  • Scuba equipment (air tanks, BCD, weight belt, one regulator, one tank harness, one tank pressure gauge, one mask, two fins, one snorkel, one knife, and one safety vest in one container)
  • Skateboards (manual or non-electric)
  • Snow ski equipment (skis or snowboards, ski boots, and ski poles)
  • Surfing equipment
  • Water ski equipment

* These specialized sports equipment can only be boarded for a $75 charge (one-way):

  • Javelins (one or more, all in a single bag)
  • Kayak (Other than sea Kayak)
  • Kiteboard
  • Life raft cartridges
  • Surfboard (Other than Hawaii Islands or for Hawaii exceeding the weight limit)
  • Vaulting poles (one or more, all in a single bag)
  • Windsurfing board

Other Special Items In Baggage

The airline has a special guideline for special item(s) and you must adhere to the required weight size and capacity(volume) limits of the airlines as described on the website. Here is the list of items that you are allowed on board but with certain restrictions and limitations-

  • Batteries
  • Guns, ammunition, and self-defense sprays
  • Medications and oxygen
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Portable electronic devices (PEDs)
  • Camping equipment
  • Engines and air compressors
  • Wedding attire
  • Seafood and perishable items
  • Human remains
  • Musical instruments

Lost or Forgotten Baggage

If you have lost or forgotten your baggage on board, or at the airport, you can contact the customer service agent immediately or get to the Baggage Claim area to report this. The toll-free number 1-888-202-1024 will be available for you 24*7. However, for any item damaged onboard, the airlines carry no responsibility for this. However, if the damage is severe, you can get to the baggage service agent and show this to them. After assessing the damage they will raise a compensation request and you will be benefitted soon.

The authorities will make efforts to contact you and get your item to you within 30 days if the item is found.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Yes, Southwest Airlines offers a baggage delivery service called Bags VIP. This service allows passengers to have their baggage delivered directly to their destination for an additional fee.

Yes, Southwest Airlines allows passengers to use Rapid Rewards points to pay for baggage fees. However, you must have enough points to cover the full cost of the fees.

If your baggage is delayed or misplaced on your Southwest flight, you should immediately notify a Southwest Airlines representative. They will work with you to locate your bags or provide compensation for any necessary expenses.

Yes, Southwest Airlines allows passengers to bring coolers and dry ice on board for medical purposes or to transport perishable items. However, certain restrictions and fees may apply.

If your baggage is lost on your Southwest flight, you should immediately notify a Southwest Airlines representative. They will assist you in locating your lost baggage and providing compensation for any necessary expenses.