Alaska Airlines Baggage Fees: What They Cost and How to Avoid Them

A few simple strategies and some planning can help you avoid paying extra for your bags on your next Alaska Airlines flight
Last updated Sep 18, 2020 | By Robin Kavanagh
Woman at airport with luggage

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Alaska Airlines has been flying passengers to destinations for more than 85 years. Currently serving over 44 million customers annually to more than 115 stops throughout four countries, Alaska Airlines may well be on your list of flight possibilities as you research upcoming trips.

If you’re like most travelers, you’re looking to save money on travel where it makes the most sense. When it comes to air travel, that means looking at what baggage fees you may face and if there are any ways to get around them. In some cases, upgrading your ticket may be the best choice. Other times, it may be getting one of the best airline credit cards that delivers the perks you need.

In this article, we take a look at how you can save money on Alaska Airlines’ baggage fees. Then you can decide if any of these tips are a good idea for your trip.

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What’s Alaska Airlines’ baggage policy?

Alaska Airlines has recently updated its baggage policies, though they are still similar to those of most other airlines. Here’s a quick look at what to expect for your trip.

Carry-on bags

Passengers are allowed one carry-on bag and one personal item free of charge. Carry-on bags must be 22 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches or smaller (no more than 45 linear inches), including the handle and wheels. Personal items include laptop bags, purses, briefcases, or other small items.

Bags, luggage, and strollers with removable batteries are acceptable for both checked and carry-on, but the batteries may need to be removed and stored safely before they will be allowed on board. Bags without removable power sources will not be allowed.

Different rules apply if you’re booked on Alaska Airlines international flights 5000 through 5499. These are operated by Qantas, an Australian-based airline, which has its own carry-on policies depending on which class you are flying.

Checked bags

If you have bags that don’t fit the above requirements, chances are you’ll have to check them. Alaska Airlines baggage fees are as follows: $30 for the first checked bag, $40 for the second, and $100 each for any additional bags. These prices apply to bags up to 50 pounds and 62 linear inches in size.

Keep in mind that you may be limited to just two checked bags if you’re traveling to certain destinations during peak times of the year. Be sure to check the Alaska Airlines website for details.

If a bag weighs more than 50 pounds or is between 63 and 115 linear inches, it may be subject to oversize baggage fees. Alaska Airlines charges $100 to check an overweight or oversized bag.

There are some exceptions to these rules:

  • Car seats and strollers, properly packaged pineapples from Hawaii, medical and mobility devices, and cases of wine can be checked free of charge in some instances.
  • Alaska residents who are members of the airline’s frequent flyer program may have baggage fees waived when traveling to, from, or within the state.
  • If you’re flying within the boundaries of Alaska, your first three checked bags are free. After that, you’ll be charged $100 per bag.

When you fly internationally on Alaska Airlines’ flights 5000 through 5499, your first two checked bags up to 62 linear inches and no more than 50 pounds each are free. Additional bags of this size will cost $175 each. Overweight or oversized bags will be charged $75 each. Strollers, car seats, and mobility aids, such as walkers or canes, may be checked at no charge.

How to avoid Alaska Airlines' baggage fees

Now that you know what you may be facing when it comes to Alaska Airlines’ baggage fees, let’s dive into some strategies for getting around them. There are a lot of options available for you, depending on your situation.

1. Only pack a carry-on

This is one of the simplest ways to avoid Alaska Airlines baggage fees. Simply don’t bring anything that you’ll have to pay a fee to check. Since small rolling suitcases can be counted toward your carry-on allotment, consider looking for one that fits the size and weight limitations and then using that for your essentials.

Additional items, such as toiletries, books, small articles of clothing, and medications, can be put in a small backpack or another type of soft bag that can be stored under your seat. This can count as your free personal item and allow you more space to bring what you need for your trip.

2. Join the Alaska Airlines loyalty program

Alaska Airlines offers a frequent flyer program called Mileage Plan. Enrolling is free, and you earn miles for flying with Alaska Airlines and other carriers in its Global Partners program. These include American Airlines, British Airways, Qantas, Emirates, Icelandair, Aer Lingus, and Ravn Alaska. You can also earn miles by shopping through the Mileage Plan Shopping website, which offers deals from more than 850 online retailers, including Walmart.com, Kohl’s, BestBuy.com, Home Depot, and more.

After you earn 20,000 miles or fly 30 segments on Alaska Airlines and qualifying partner airlines, you’ll be eligible for the first tier of elite status — MVP. At this level, you’ll qualify to have two bags checked without fees. This will apply to those flying with you as well, so long as they are booked on the same reservation. You’ll also enjoy additional benefits, such as priority check-in and boarding, bonus miles, and free upgrades when available.

3. Buy a premium ticket

First-class tickets with Alaska Airlines come with more than just free drinks and extra legroom. They are also eligible for baggage fee waivers for the first two bags checked. Additional bags will cost $100 each.

This is the only class of ticket to offer such a waiver if you don’t have a Mileage Plan membership with elite status.

4. Bring your military documentation

Active military members and their dependents do not pay fees for the first five bags they check on Alaska Airlines. Each additional bag will cost $100 to check. Weight and size restrictions are also larger for these passengers; bags can be up to 70 pounds and 115 linear inches.

To receive the waivers needed for these benefits, the active member must present a valid military ID. Dependents must show a valid military ID and travel orders to receive their baggage fee waivers.

5. Get an Alaska Airlines credit card

Like most carriers, Alaska Airlines offers its own credit cards, all of which give you the chance to earn frequent flyer miles that are added to your Mileage Plan membership and to qualify for premium benefits. Your everyday purchases add miles to your plan, and purchases made directly through Alaska Airlines earn three times as many miles.

Card Alaska Airlines perks Annual fee
Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card
  • First checked bag free for you and six companions on the same reservation
  • Companion fare eligibility after spending $2,000 in the first 90 days; annual companion fare after
  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles (+ round-trip coach Companion Fare) after spending $2,000 in the first 90 days
  • 20% off inflight purchases and 50% off Alaska Lounge day passes
$75
Alaska Airlines Visa Business Card
  • First checked bag free for you and six companions on the same reservation
  • Companion fare eligibility after spending $2,000 in first 90 days; annual companion fare after
  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in the first 90 days
$50

6. Use a general travel card

You can also get one of the best travel credit cards issued by banks that are not associated with any specific airline. With these cards, you earn points or miles that you can put toward different kinds of travel expenses, which can result in some significant savings. They’re also generally more flexible, since you can redeem your points with many different airlines instead of being limited to just one.

For example, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards card allows you to use points toward purchases with airlines. If you use the card to pay for Alaska Airlines baggage fees, you could apply your card’s miles to pay for that purchase.

Some cards offer annual travel credits, which is like free money that you can apply to travel-related purchases, including baggage fees. The Chase Sapphire Reserve, for instance, allows members to claim $300 in reimbursement of travel expenses each year. Similarly, some American Express cards offer airline fee credits, which could be used to reimburse you for Alaska Airlines’ baggage costs.

Common questions about Alaska Airlines' baggage fees

Is baggage free on Alaska Airlines?

You’re allowed to bring one carry-on bag and one personal item free when traveling with Alaska Airlines. Checked baggage will cost you, though. You’ll pay $30 for your first checked bag, $40 for your second checked bag, and $100 each for any additional bags. The only exceptions are strollers and car seats, mobility aids, and medical devices. You’re also allowed to bring a box of pineapples if traveling within the U.S. from Hawaii.

Is Alaska Airlines strict about carry-on size?

All carry-ons you bring with on Alaska Airlines must be 22” x 14” x 9” or smaller, including the wheels and handles, or less than 45” when adding the length + width + height. Make sure to measure your suitcase after you’ve packed it to accurately assess whether it complies. (If you’re in the market for some new luggage, check out our favorite carry-ons.)

What is the baggage weight limit for Alaska Airlines?

No checked baggage can weigh more than 100 pounds when traveling with Alaska Airlines. If a bag weighs between 51 and 100 pounds, you’ll be charged a $100 overweight baggage fee. Use a luggage scale to ensure that your bag is not overweight before you bring it to the airport.

How do I check baggage on Alaska Airlines?

Typically, you’ll need to bring your bags to the counter at the airport between one and four hours before your flight time, but ticket counter hours and cut-off times can vary by airport. If you have a connecting flight with less than 12 hours between flights, your baggage will be checked to your final destination.

How much does it cost to check a bag on Alaska Airlines?

When traveling with Alaska Airlines, your first checked bag costs $30, your second checked bag costs $40, and any additional bags cost $100 each. Your bag must weigh 50 pounds or less and have a maximum linear dimension of 62” if you want to avoid overweight and oversized baggage fees.

The bottom line

Overall, there are a lot of opportunities available to sidestep baggage fees on Alaska Airlines. Take some time to research your options and consider what you really need for your upcoming trip. You may find that you can easily avoid paying anything for your checked bags. And who doesn't love getting something for free?

Earn valuable Alaska Airlines miles

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card

Benefits

  • 40,000 bonus mile sign-up offer
  • 3X miles on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases
  • Multiple travel perks when flying with Alaska Airlines
  • No foreign transaction fees