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.
6 minute read | 6/13/19June 13, 2019
Checked baggage being loaded onto a plane

Delta Air Lines is hugely popular for both business and vacation travelers. The company 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 baggage fees. Here’s what you need to know.

What’s 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 allowances carefully can help you save money on checked bags.

Carry-ons and personal items

Your carry-on 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-ons 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 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.

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. Fly from the U.S. to Tahiti, however, and you’ll be charged $60 for the first bag and $100 for the second. You can see how much your luggage will cost for your upcoming itinerary on Delta’s 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 oversized luggage, you may have to pay additional 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 baggage 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 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 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. You’ll earn Silver Medallion status when you 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 higher-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.

If you’re traveling during your 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 when you check your bags.

5. Get a Delta 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.

Perks you get on Delta Annual fee
Amex Gold Delta SkyMiles
  • First checked bag free
  • Priority boarding
  • Discounts on Delta Sky Club Access
  • 20% savings on inflight purchases
$95 (waived first year)
Amex Platinum Delta SkyMiles
  • 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
$195
Amex Delta Reserve 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
$450
Amex Gold Delta SkyMiles Business
  • First checked bag free
  • Priority boarding
  • 20% discount on in flight purchases
  • Earn 2X miles per $1 spent on eligible Delta purchases
$95 (waived first year)
Amex Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business
  • First checked bag free
  • Priority boarding
  • 20% discount on in flight purchases
  • Annual companion certificate
  • Annual miles boost based on your spending
$195
Amex Delta Reserve for Business
  • 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
$450

6. Use a general travel card

If you prefer to shop around rather than stay devoted to one airline, signing up for a general travel rewards card may be a better option than a Delta credit card. Some cards offer valuable perks that can help you get free checked bags, such as airline credits and point transfers.

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.

The Platinum Card from American Express also offers significant benefits, including a $200 airline credit you can use to get reimbursed for baggage fees and other costs.

Avoiding baggage fees on Delta

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

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