Southwest Baggage Policy – Fees, Size Limits & More

Traveling with Southwest Airlines?  Understanding their baggage policy can save you time, money, and stress at the airport. Southwest Airlines stands out for its unique boarding process and two free checked bags – a welcome perk for budget-conscious travelers. However, navigating airline baggage policies can be tricky. This comprehensive guide equips you with all the knowledge you need to conquer Southwest baggage policy and travel like a pro.

Southwest Baggage Policy

Free Checked Bags

Southwest generously allows two free checked bags for every passenger (with limitations). Here’s the breakdown:

  • Weight Limit: Each checked bag must not exceed 50 lbs (22.7 kg).
  • Size Restriction: The total linear dimensions (length + width + height) of each bag cannot surpass 62 inches (157 cm).

Exceeding the Limits?

Going beyond the free allowance?  Southwest charges fees for overweight and oversized bags:

  • Overweight Bag (51-70 lbs): $100 per bag
  • Overweight Bag (71-100 lbs): $125 per bag
  • Oversized Bag (63-80 inches): $125 per bag

Important Note: If your bag is both overweight and oversized, you’ll only pay the higher fee, not both.  However, there’s a maximum weight limit of 100 lbs per bag.  Anything exceeding that cannot be checked and may need to be shipped as cargo.

Carry-On and Personal Item Allowances

Southwest permits one carry-on bag and one personal item per passenger. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Carry-On: Dimensions must not exceed 24 inches x 16 inches x 10 inches (61 cm x 41 cm x 25 cm). This includes the wheels and handles.
  • Personal Item: Think small and stable under the seat in front of you. Purses, backpacks, briefcases, and laptop bags are all common examples.

Prohibited Items

Always double-check Southwest’s and the TSA’s lists of prohibited items to avoid any last-minute hassles at the airport.  Here are some general guidelines:

  • Liquids, Gels, and Aerosols: Abide by the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule (containers must be 3.4 oz or less, in a resealable 1-quart bag).
  • Sharp Objects: Scissors, knives, and other sharp items are strictly prohibited.
  • Firearms and Explosives: These are never allowed on board, even in checked baggage.

Tips for Maximizing Your Baggage Allowance

  • Pack Light: Plan your outfits and only bring what you absolutely need. Consider versatile clothing items that can be mixed and matched.
  • Travel with Companions: If traveling with friends or family, consider pooling your belongings into two checked bags to avoid excess baggage fees.
  • Utilize Carry-on Bags Effectively: Southwest allows one carry-on bag (24 x 16 x 10 inches) and one personal item (purse, backpack, etc.) under the seat. Pack essentials and toiletries in your carry-on to minimize checked baggage.
  • Utilize Travel Rewards Programs: Certain credit cards or travel rewards programs offer free checked bags on Southwest flights. Consider these options if you travel frequently.


  • Southwest Airlines allows two free checked bags per passenger (weight limit: 50 lbs, size limit: 62 inches).
  • Additional checked bags and overweight/oversized bags incur fees.
  • Strategize packing and consider pooling baggage with companions to avoid excess fees.
  • Always check TSA guidelines for prohibited items.

FAQs on Southwest Baggage Policy

Can I pre-pay for checked baggage?

No, Southwest doesn’t offer pre-payment for checked bags. Fees are paid at check-in or at the gate.

What happens if my checked bag is overweight or oversized?

The Southwest agent will inform you of the excess fees. You’ll need to pay before checking your bag.

What items are prohibited in checked baggage?

For a full list, refer to the TSA website [TSA’s full list of prohibited carry-on items].  Generally, hazardous materials, weapons, and flammable liquids are not allowed.

How can I track my checked bags?

You can track your checked bags through the Southwest mobile app or website after they’ve been scanned at the airport.

Can I check in a third bag?

Yes, but you’ll incur excess baggage fees. Check Southwest’s Optional Travel Charges: for current rates.

How can I save money on checked baggage fees?

Consider packing light and utilizing your free checked bag allowance effectively. If you travel frequently, consider a Southwest credit card that may offer baggage fee waivers.

Where can I find more information on Southwest’s baggage policy?

Visit Southwest’s official website for detailed information on baggage allowances, fees, and restrictions.

Southwest encourages checking in online and using self-service kiosks at the airport to expedite the baggage check process. By understanding Southwest’s baggage policy, you can avoid unexpected fees and ensure a smooth travel experience. Pack smart, fly easy, and enjoy your Southwest adventure!