Air Canada Baggage Fees [Plus: How to Check Your Bags for Free]

A little planning can help you avoid spending more than you need to on your flight.
Last updated July 29, 2022 | By Robin Kavanagh
Travelers boarding an airplane with luggage

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If you want to get just about anywhere, you’re likely to find an Air Canada flight that can take you there. As Canada’s largest airline, Air Canada flies 50 million people to over 210 airports on six continents every year. Air Canada also operates a subsidiary airline known as Air Canada Rouge.

You don’t have to be a Canadian resident to fly — and fly in style — with Air Canada. Though this airline’s frequent-flyer program runs a little bit different than other carriers, there are plenty of opportunities to fly, save, and earn perks like free checked baggage.

But what about before you work your way up to that level? Here’s a look at Air Canada baggage fees and a bunch of ways you can get free checked bags.

In this article

What’s Air Canada’s baggage policy?

Carry-ons

All customers are allowed a baggage allowance of one personal item and one carry-on bag (called a standard article). The carry-on must be 21.5 inches x 9 inches x 15.5 inches or smaller, including wheels and handles. If you’re traveling with an infant riding on your lap, you can bring one additional piece of carry-on baggage for the child.

Personal items must be 13 inches x 6 inches x 17 inches or smaller. Examples include purses, briefcases, backpacks, laptop bags, camera bags, small animal carriers, and garment bags. If you are traveling with an infant, you may also bring one additional standard item with your child's belongings.

In addition to these items, you can also bring a coat or sweater, small purse (no larger than 10 inches x 12 inches x 5.5 inches), a diaper bag, stroller, and a car seat/booster (if you bought a seat for your child). Mobility aids, medical equipment, medications, and communication aids are also allowed without fees.

There is no official weight limit for carry-on or personal items, but they must be light enough for you to put them into the overhead bins without any assistance.

Checked bags

Checked baggage fees with Air Canada vary depending on where you take off from, your destination, fare type of the ticket you purchased, and level of status with Air Canada Altitude or Star Alliance.

Generally, checked bags must be no heavier than 50 pounds and no larger than 62 inches when you add up all the linear dimensions (height + width + length with handles and wheels included). Fees can be as low as $30 for the first bag, $50 for the second, and $100 for a third per direction for Basic and Standard Economy tickets.

Checked bags on international flights to the Caribbean or Mexico with Basic Economy tickets run $60 for the first bag and $100 for the second, plus up to $225 for a third bag. Flights to international destinations other than the Caribbean, Mexico, or U.S. will get one bag checked free and the second bag for no more than $100, with the one exception of Economy Basic fare on flights between Canada and Europe, which will pay $70 for their first bag.

Different levels of economy fares (such as Flex, Comfort, and Latitude), Premium Economy, Rouge, and Business Class tickets generally have some free checked bag allowances. If you have Star Alliance or Air Canada Altitude membership or status, bag fees may also be waived.

For example, a Basic Economy flight from New York to Toronto will have a baggage fee of $30 for the first bag, $50 for the second, and $100 for each additional bag. For that same flight booked at a Flex fare or higher, up to two bags may be checked for free. If you’re a Star Alliance Gold member or have Air Canada Altitude status, you may also get one or more bags checked for free, even with a Basic Economy class ticket.

You can check the airline’s checked baggage calculator to figure out how much you might be looking at for your trip.

Specialty baggage

Bags that are either 50 to 70 pounds or 63 to 115 linear inches qualify as overweight or oversize, respectively, and will cost between $100 to $118 per direction, plus taxes, to check. Bags that are above both the size and weight limits will only be charged one fee.

Some types of oversized bags — such as those containing sports equipment, musical instruments, and hunting equipment — may require special arrangements, waivers, and charges. Special packaging may also be required for food or items needing dry ice. In addition, your sports bags can only contain sporting equipment and not clothing or other personal litems.

Like all airlines, there are restrictions on what you can and can’t pack in checked luggage, the most common of which apply to specific types of batteries. Here’s a complete list of restricted items for both types of luggage.

Excess baggage

If you are traveling with more bags than the standard bag allowance, then you will also be charged excess baggage fees. These fees will vary with your destination and could range from $100 to $265.50 per bag.

How to avoid Air Canada baggage fees

Now that you have an idea of what baggage fees might cost you for a flight with Air Canada, let’s look at some ways to minimize or get around them.

1. Only pack a carry-on

This is a tried-and-true way to avoid baggage fees: Don’t check any bags. Air Canada’s carry-on allowance is pretty standard, which gives you a small suitcase and another small bag that you can pack for your trip. This not only saves you money, but also saves you time at check-in.

Prioritize what you need and what you can easily buy at your destination. For example, clothes are a necessity, but some bulky toiletries (such as toothbrushes or shampoo) can be bought after you land and discarded before you head home.

Jackets and small purses are allowed on board in addition to your carry-on allowance. Use that to your advantage and think about how you can best economize your carry-on space.

2. Join the loyalty program

Air Canada has a unique loyalty program. Air Canada’s miles program is administered through Aeroplan, a rewards program that works with partners to give miles to members as a result of purchases.

The miles can be redeemed for Air Canada flights and fees or through the Aeroplan booking site, where you get more credit for miles on Air Canada or any other airline in the Star Alliance family. You can also use Aeroplan points to pay for baggage fees on your Air Canada flight if you book through the Aeroplan website.

Air Canada Altitude was a previous frequent-flyer program that the airline offered, but it has been combined into the Aeroplan program and is now known as Aeroplan Elite Status. This level of status gets you access to the Maple Leaf Lounge, free checked bags, cabin upgrades, and priority services at the airport.

3. Buy a premium ticket

Air Canada has several levels of tickets, including Basic, Standard, Flex, Comfort, Latitude, Premium Economy, and Business Class. Basic and Standard tickets generally don’t have allowances for checked bags. However, this differs from flight to flight, so it’s best to use the checked baggage calculator on the Air Canada website to estimate fees.

Flex and Comfort class tickets come with one free checked bag and a second you can check for $50. Latitude, Premium Economy, and Business Class tickets allow two free checked bags. All international flights (outside of the U.S. and Canada) allow for one free checked bag, regardless of ticket class, except for Basic Economy flights from Canada to Europe.

4. Bring your military documentation

If you’re an active or retired member of the U.S. or Canadian military, you can check up to three bags for free on Air Canada flights. Bags can’t weigh more than 70 pounds each.

You’ll have to present a valid military ID to a customer service agent at the airport to receive this benefit. This could include current active duty photo identification, discharge papers, a statement of service, or a temporary military ID.

5. Use a travel card

Finally, you can use a travel credit card to help get around paying baggage fees. Some of the best travel credit cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve, offer a travel credit annually that you can use to reimburse baggage fees.

Many travel credit cards also offer you the ability to transfer credit card points to partner rewards programs, such as frequent-flyer miles programs. Points you earn by using an American Express Gold Card, for example, can be transferred to Air Canada on a 1:1 basis, and you can use those points to help pay for your flight fees — including baggage.

Big Rewards for Dining Out

Intro Offer

Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you make $4,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of card membership

Annual Fee

$250

Rewards Rate

4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, after that 1X) and at restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., 3X on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com, and 1X on all other eligible purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards Points after you spend $4,000 in the first 6 months of card membership
  • Rose gold is back! Choose your color.
  • $120 in dining credits
  • $120 in Uber Cash
  • Select benefits require enrollment.
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • $250 annual fee. Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • No lounge access benefit
  • Has annual fee
Card Details
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you make $4,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of card membership
  • 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, after that 1X) and at restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., 3X on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com, and 1X on all other eligible purchases
  • Terms apply

And the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has a unique offer for travelers: redeeming miles on past travel purchases. This redemption feature allows you to use your miles to take any travel purchases made within the past 90 days off of your statement. You could pay for your Air Canada baggage fees with your Venture card, then submit for a statement credit toward that purchase.

Incredibly Flexible Rewards

Intro Offer

Earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and car shares booked through Turo; and 2X miles on all other purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • 75,000 bonus mile welcome offer
  • 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit
  • No foreign transaction fees

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee
Card Details
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and car shares booked through Turo; and 2X miles on all other purchases

Bottom line

At present there are no Air Canada co-branded credit cards available to U.S. citizens, but there may be new developments in the coming months. If you are a frequent user of this airline, keeping watching for updates. In the meantime, if none of the above mentioned credit cards does the trick for you, be sure to check out our list of the best airline credit cards for more options. 

As you can see, you have a lot of possibilities for getting around Air Canada baggage fees. A little research before you book your flight can end up saving you some substantial money.

#1 Premium Travel Credit Card

Intro Offer

Earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

Annual Fee

$550

Rewards Rate

10X points on Lyft rides, Chase Dining purchases, hotels and cars booked via Ultimate Rewards; 5X points on air travel booked via Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on travel and dining; and 1X points on everything else

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • point sign-up bonus
  • points on
  • Priority Pass airport lounge access

Drawbacks

  • High annual fee
  • Excellent credit required
Card Details
  • Earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 10X points on Lyft rides, Chase Dining purchases, hotels and cars booked via Ultimate Rewards; 5X points on air travel booked via Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on travel and dining; and 1X points on everything else

Author Details

Robin Kavanagh Robin is a freelance writer who lives on the South Carolina beach. She has spent the last 20 years writing about all kinds of topics for publications such as The New York Times, Yes! Magazine, Next Tribe, Parenting, and various trade magazines. On FinanceBuzz.com, you’ll find her mostly writing about smart ways to use credit cards, navigating personal loans, how to save when traveling, and ways to improve your financial health.