6 Easy Ways to Avoid Delta Baggage Fees

Delta baggage fees can cost you up to $60 round trip for just one checked bag. Check out how you can skip those charges.
Last updated Jun 6, 2021 | By Kat Tretina
Checked baggage being loaded onto a plane

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Delta Air Lines is hugely popular for both business and vacation travelers. The company is based in Atlanta, Georgia, but services areas around the world, from Canada to Australia to Central America.

Delta positions itself as a premium airline, offering more comfort and luxury than budget-friendly carriers. As such, you won’t typically get perks like free bags as you do on Southwest; instead, you’ll usually have to pay a fee for each bag you check.

However, there are some ways to get around Delta Airlines baggage fees. Here’s what you need to know.

In this article

What is Delta Air Lines’ baggage policy?

When you fly on Delta, you’re allowed one carry-on and one personal item at no cost. Using those baggage allowances carefully can help you save money on checked bags.

Carry-ons and personal items

Your carry-on baggage can’t exceed 45 linear inches in combined length, width, and height, including handles and wheels. In general, your bag should be 22 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches or smaller. Carry-on items don’t have a weight limit, except at the airports below:

  • Singapore, Singapore — Changi International Airport (SIN): 15 pounds
  • Beijing — Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC): 22 pounds
  • Shanghai — Pudong International Airport (PVG): 22 pounds

Personal items include purses, diaper bags, camera bags, laptop computers, or items of similar size. Just make sure they fit in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you.

If you’re traveling with children or someone with special needs, you’re in luck. Special items like strollers, child seats, wheelchairs, crutches, and assistive devices don’t count as a carry-on or personal item, so you can bring them on the plane in addition to your other items.

Checked bags

When it comes to your checked bags, your fees are based on your bag’s weight, your destination, and the number of bags you’re shipping.

For domestic flights in North America, if you're traveling in the main cabin, you’ll typically pay $30 for your first checked bag that weighs less than 50 pounds and $40 for your second checked bag that weighs less than 50 pounds. Baggage must not exceed 62 inches when you total the length, width, and height.

International flights to locations outside of the United States have more variable baggage fees. A flight from the U.S. to Europe, for example, offers one checked bag for free, but the second bag will cost you $100. If you fly from the U.S. to the Caribbean, Bermuda, or Ecuador, however, you’ll be charged only $40 for that second bag. A third checked bag can cost you $200 or more, depending on your location. You can see how much your luggage will cost for your upcoming itinerary on the Delta.com website.

You can check up to 10 bags per passenger on flights operated by Delta or Delta Shuttle and up to four on Delta Connection carrier flights. However, if you travel with more than two pieces of luggage, Delta may not be able to accommodate all of your baggage on one flight. Instead, it may be transported on the next available flight.

If you have oversize luggage or excess baggage, you may have to pay additional checked bag fees. You’ll have to pay an extra fee for every limitation you exceed in terms of weight, size, and quantity. For example, an excess bag that is over 50 pounds will have an extra checked bag fee and an overweight fee.

How to avoid Delta baggage fees

While Delta charges fees for your checked bags, there are ways around paying that extra cost. Here are six ways you can save on Delta baggage fees.

1. Only pack a carry-on

If you can pack light, having only a carry-on and personal item could save at least $60 per round trip. Even better, you don’t have to worry about your bags getting lost; you’ll have your carry-on baggage with you every step of the way.

2. Join a loyalty program

If you frequently fly with Delta, consider signing up for the Delta SkyMiles loyalty program. It’s free to sign up, and you’ll earn miles you can use toward future trips — plus you can earn SkyMiles Medallion status levels and get perks like seat upgrades and free checked luggage.

To qualify for free checked bags, you need to earn at least Silver Medallion status. Once you achieve that level, you’ll get your first checked bag for free. Up to eight of your travel companions will also get a free checked bag. Medallion members earn Silver status when they earn 25,000 Medallion Qualification Miles and $3,000 Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQD) or an MQD Waiver.

Once you sign up for SkyMiles, just enter your member number into your reservation when you book a flight. Depending on the flight, you could earn up to five miles per $1 spent on your ticket.

3. Buy a premium ticket

If you want more legroom and comfort, it may be worth the splurge to buy a business class or first class ticket. Upgrading your Delta airfare may also entitle you to free checked bags, helping offset the extra cost.

Delta Premium Select passengers get two free checked bags weighing a maximum of 50 pounds. First class and Delta One passengers can bring two checked bags on at no cost, up to 70 pounds each.

4. Bring your military documentation

Active military service members can qualify for free checked bags. If you’re on military orders, you get up to five free checked bags.

For military personnel traveling during personal time, you get up to two free checked bags if you’re flying basic economy, main cabin, or Delta Comfort. If you’re flying first class, Delta One, or Delta Premium Select, you get up to three free checked bags weighing 70 pounds each.

To qualify, you must show a valid military ID to Delta staff at check in.

5. Get a Delta Skymiles credit card

If you travel often and want free baggage and other perks, signing up for a Delta-branded credit card can be a smart decision. You can earn valuable rewards for your travel and get free upgrades. You'll want to compare the different Delta card perks so that you can choose the best airline credit card for you.


Perks you get on Delta Annual fee
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
  • First checked bag free
  • Priority boarding
  • Discounts on Delta Sky Club Access
  • 20% savings on inflight purchases
$99 (waived first year) (See rates and fees) (Terms apply)
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
  • First checked bag free
  • Priority boarding
  • Discounts on Delta Sky Club Access
  • 20% savings on inflight purchases
  • Annual companion flight certificate
  • 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles each year
$250 (See rates and fees) (Terms apply)
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
  • First checked bag free
  • Priority boarding
  • Free Delta Sky Club Access
  • 20% savings on inflight purchases
  • Annual companion flight certificate
  • 15,000 Medallion Qualification Miles each year
$550 (See rates and fees) (Terms apply)
Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card
  • First checked bag free
  • Priority boarding
  • 20% discount on in-flight purchases
  • Earn 2X miles per $1 spent on eligible Delta purchases
$99 (waived first year) (See rates and fees) (Terms apply)
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card
  • First checked bag free
  • Priority boarding
  • 20% discount on in-flight purchases
  • Annual companion certificate
  • Annual miles boost based on your spending
$250 (See rates and fees) (Terms apply)
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card
  • First checked bag free
  • Priority boarding
  • 20% discount on in-flight purchases
  • Annual companion certificate
  • Complimentary Delta Sky Club Access
  • Concierge assistance
  • Annual miles boost based on your spending
$550 (See rates and fees) (Terms apply)

Free Bag & Priority Boarding

Intro Offer

90,000 bonus miles (and 10,000 MQMs)

Annual Fee

$250

Rewards Rate

up to 3X miles

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • 3X miles on purchases made directly with Delta and at hotels
  • First checked bag free on Delta flights
  • Statement credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry
  • $250 annual fee. Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee
  • Best for frequent Delta travelers
Card Details
  • Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 3X miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta and at hotels; 2X miles per dollar spent at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets; and 1X miles for every dollar spent on all other eligible purchases
  • Terms apply

6. Use a general travel card

If you prefer to shop around rather than stay devoted to one airline, a more flexible travel rewards card may be a better option than a Delta credit card. Some of the best travel credit cards offer valuable perks that can help you get free checked bags, such as airline credits and point transfers. Plus, you can often earn bonus miles from your spending to help further offset the cost of travel and your rewards aren't restricted to a single airline.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve, for example, offers a $300 annual travel credit. Use your card to pay for travel expenses, including baggage fees, and you’ll get up to $300 as a statement credit to reimburse you. You can also redeem your rewards through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program to book Delta flights and get 50% more for your points. And if you happen to want to fly a different airline, Chase has a long list of partners you can transfer your points to.

#1 Premium Travel Credit Card

Intro Offer

50,000 points

Annual Fee

$550

Rewards Rate

up to 10X points per dollar

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • 50,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 10X points on hotels and cars booked through Ultimate Rewards
  • $60 annual DoorDash credit in 2021
  • Priority Pass airport lounge access

Drawbacks

  • High annual fee
  • Excellent credit required
Card Details
  • Earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 10X points on Lyft rides, Chase Dining purchases, and hotels and cars booked through Ultimate Rewards; 5X points on air travel booked through Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on travel and dining, and 1X points per $1 spent on everything else

FAQs

What is the maximum size my baggage can be?

When checking standard luggage through Delta, you’ll need to ensure that your bags are no more than 62 inches (157 centimeters) in total when adding the length, width, and depth together. There is an exception to the baggage regulations if you are active duty military traveling on orders. In this case, your bags can be up to 80 linear inches (203 centimeters) total.

What is Delta’s policy regarding musical instruments and sporting equipment?

When flying Delta, you can bring along musical instruments in an Air Transportation Association-approved travel case that does not measure more than 150 linear inches (length plus width plus height) or weigh more than 167 pounds. Sporting equipment can be checked as long as it does not exceed 115 linear inches in size. Be aware that equipment weighing more than 50 pounds may be subject to additional overweight baggage fees.

Can I bring a suitcase and a backpack as carry-ons on Delta?

Delta passengers are able to bring one carry-on bag and one personal item onto the plane with them, without charge. Carry-on bags cannot exceed 45 linear inches (length plus width plus height), and individual measurements cannot be greater than 22 inches by 14 inches by 9 inches. Personal items can include things like purses, laptop bags, camera bags, a small backpack, or similar-sized bags. Whether you can bring a suitcase and backpack as your free carry-ons will depend on the dimensions of your suitcase and the size of your backpack.

What happens if my bag is over 50lbs on Delta?

Delta does have weight restrictions in place, so if your bag weighs more than 50 pounds, you may be subject to overweight baggage fees. These fees range from $100 per bag (for 51 to 70 pounds) to $200 per bag (71 to 100 pounds). Bags weighing more than 100 pounds each are not permitted on Delta flights. Keep in mind that overweight bag fees are in addition to any applicable Delta baggage fees for checked baggage. That said, if you have loyalty status with Delta, you may benefit from greater luggage weight allowances and avoid excess baggage fees when traveling in certain seat classes.

What is Delta’s baggage policy when traveling to, from, or in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands?

Effective August 2017, Delta now waives the second checked bag fee for passengers traveling between the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.


Bottom line

Delta Airlines baggage fees can add hundreds to your round trip’s cost. But by researching your options, including upgrading your ticket or signing up for credit cards, you can avoid these costly fees and save money on your trip, helping you prepare for your next adventure.

Great Welcome Offer and Continuing Rewards

Intro Offer

70,000 bonus miles

Annual Fee

$99

Rewards Rate

up to 2X miles

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn 70,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
  • 2X miles on purchases with Delta, at restaurants, and at U.S. supermarkets
  • Check your first bag free on Delta flights
  • Annual fee is waived your first year
  • $99 annual fee. Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee
  • Best for frequent Delta travelers
Card Details
  • Earn 70,000 bonus miles after you send $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 2X miles on qualifying Delta purchases, at restaurants, and at U.S supermarkets; and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases
  • Terms apply

Author Details

Kat Tretina Kat Tretina is a freelance writer based in Orlando, Florida. Her work has been published by publications like The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, MarketWatch, and more. She specializes in producing content around paying down debt, increasing income, and maximizing credit cards. You can view her work at www.KTretina.com, or contact her on Twitter @KatTretina.