Southwest Airlines Baggage and Carry-on

What is the carry-on allowance?

With regard to carry-on allowance, Southwest Airlines applies the “one bag plus one personal-type item” limit.

What is the free checked baggage allowance?

With its “Bags Fly Free” policy on checked baggage allowance, Southwest Airlines accepts your first two bags free of charge, as long as they comply with weight and size limitations:

  • Weight – 50 lbs.
  • Size – 62 linear inches (outside length plus height plus width).

Military passengers traveling on active duty or permanent change of station orders will be exempt from the two-piece baggage limit and will not be subject to excess, oversize, or overweight baggage charges, provided that none of the pieces of baggage exceeds 100 pounds in weight and 80 inches in size.

What is the maximum weight and size allowed?

Southwest Airlines does not accept any piece of baggage that exceeds 100 pounds (45 kg) or 80 linear inches (206 linear cm), except mobility or other assistive devices, hanging garment with outside length, width, and height measurements up to a maximum of 110 inches, if flexible.

Carry-on

All carry-on baggage, one bag and one personal item, must be stowed underneath a seat or in an overhead bin. A pet carrier will be considered either a carry-on bag or a personal item.

The carry-on bag (e.g., roller bag, garment bag) must not exceed external dimensions of 10 x 16 x 24 inches. Sizing boxes with these dimensions are located at many of ticket counters, curbside check-in locations, departure gates, and on many jetbridges. A roller bag that complies with the dimensions restrictions if the wheels are removed will be accepted.

One smaller personal item (e.g., purse, briefcase, laptop computer case, backpack, small camera) with 18.5 x 8.5 x 13.5 inches maximum dimensions is accepted provided that the passenger can carry it on board without additional help, unless the passenger requires assistance due to a disability.

Certain items may be carried in the passenger cabin and will not count toward your carry-on baggage limit: outer garments or other wearable articles of clothing, food for consumption during flight contained in disposable packaging, walking canes or umbrellas, a child restraint device for a ticketed child with a reserved seat or when complimentary, available space exists, assistive/mobility devices for individuals with a disability, with no limit to the number of devices.

Checked Baggage

Bags can be checked at the ticket counter, curbside Skycap Podium (only for domestic flights), Express Bag Drop locations, or Self-Tagging kiosks (only for domestic flights), no earlier than 4 hours before your scheduled departure. A-List Members and Business Select customers can check bags faster through the Fly By Priority Check-in Lanes¹ at select ticket counters. You should have your government-issued photo ID ready when checking your bags.

For international flights, baggage can be checked only at the ticket counter at least 60 minutes before scheduled departure (at least 75 minutes before scheduled departure for flights departing Aruba). Upon arrival in the US, connecting passengers must claim all luggage, regardless of final destination, and, after clearing Customs, re-check all luggage with a Southwest Airlines agent before proceeding to their connecting flight.

Express Bag Drop

Express Bag Drop is the fastest way to check your bags when you have already obtained your boarding pass. Just scan the barcode on the boarding pass and indicate how many bags you are checking in at the Express Bag Drop kiosk. Upon showing your photo ID, the Customer Service Agent will tag your bags. Express Bag drop lines are located at the end of the ticket counter, close to the security checkpoints, at the following airports: Boston (Logan), Orlando, Tampa, San Juan.

Self-Tagging

Self-Tagging kiosks1 allow you to print your own bag tags and tag your own checked bags. If you have excess baggage (three or more checked bags), you can pay the applicable excess baggage fee with a credit card. Self-Tagging is not available for international flights, group bookings, and reservations for Unaccompanied Minors.

¹Fly By Priority Check-in Lanes and Self-Tagging Kiosks locations

Late Check-in

Baggage must be checked at least 45 minutes before your flight, except where a longer requirement applies, thus allowing enough time for it to be placed on the flight. All bags checked less than 45 minutes before scheduled departure will be accepted as Late-Checked Baggage and tagged with a Late Check-in Tag. Southwest Airlines will make reasonable efforts, but cannot guarantee, to transport Late-Checked Baggage on your flight, and will not assume responsibility for delivery charges if it arrives at the destination on a subsequent flight.

Excess Baggage Fees

All bags starting with your third bag are considered excess baggage. All bags, including the first two, exceeding the size and weight limitations are considered overweight baggage (50-100 lbs) or oversized baggage (62-80 linear inches) and will be subject to a fee. For baggage exceeding the number, weight, and size restrictions, Southwest Airlines charges a $75 fee per piece, one-way.

Only one $75 fee applies if the piece is both oversized and overweight. For an extra piece that is also overweight or oversized, Southwest Airlines will charge twice the fee, excess baggage fee plus the oversized or overweight baggage fee.

Sports Equipment

The following types of sports equipment may be checked at no charge, in substitution of one of the two free pieces of checked baggage for each passenger on a one-item-for-one-bag basis, and, if the item of sporting equipment exceeds maximum weight and/or size (50 lbs and/or 62 linear inches), overweight and/or oversized fees may apply:

Archery Baseball/Softball Bicycles (non motorized, single seat, up to 50 lbs and 62 in)
Boogie or kneeboard Bowling Fishing (up to 3 inches in diameter and 91 inches in length)
Golf Hockey and/or lacrosse (up to two bags count as one item)
Scuba Parachutes (may be substituted for a carry-on or a checked bag)
Skateboard (may be substituted
for a carry-on or a checked bag)
Snow ski / Snowboard (up to two bags count as one item, even if they are taped or packed
separately; it will not be subject to oversized baggage fee, but the overweight fee may apply)
Water ski (it will not be subject to oversized baggage fee, but the overweight fee may apply)

The sports items listed in the table below will be accepted as checked baggage for a $75 fee one-way:

Bicycles (packed in a bicycle box or hardsided case larger than 62 inches in total dimensions)
Javelins Life raft Vaulting poles
Kayak (other than sea kayaks) Surfboard/kiteboard Windsurfing board

Baggage Service

Unchecked Items

Southwest Airlines assumes no responsibility and will not be liable for loss of or damage to items carried onboard an aircraft. However, if you forgot something important onboard, you should notify a Customer Service Agent at the airport, or file a Lost Item Report online. Southwest Airlines will make every effort to retrieve your item and return it to you in the next 30 days.

Checked Baggage

If your checked baggage has been lost, damaged, or delayed, you must report this, in person, at the Southwest Airlines Baggage Service Office within 4 hours of your arrival at your destination. You can find the Southwest Airlines Baggage Service Office in the baggage claim area or the ticket counter at the airport.

The Baggage Service Agent will create a report and provide you with a Lost/Delayed Report Receipt. You cannot check the status of your lost/delayed bags online, but you can call 1-888-202-1024 to follow up on the status yourself.

If your baggage arrives at the destination damaged, you must show it to a Baggage Service Agent who will assess the damage and liability.

You must also submit a completed Property Loss Claim form to Southwest Airlines if, after five days, the local Baggage Service Office did not locate your bag.

Special Luggage

More information here >>