We've all been there: You bargain-hunt for weeks before scoring the perfect low-price flight deal, just to remember how much it'll cost you to check a bag with your airline of choice. Most airlines charge for passengers to check their baggage – and the prices can get pretty steep. Unfortunately, only a couple U.S.-based airlines will let you check a bag without dishing out extra cash.
No Baggage Fee Airlines
As far as U.S. airlines go, only two permit their passengers to check bags for free. These are Cape Air and Southwest Airlines.
Cape Air offers free carry-on, gate checked and checked bags on the airline's Cessna 402C air crafts for domestic flights, excluding trips to the Caribbean. Checked bags can weigh a maximum of 50 pounds – at 51 pounds, the checked baggage fee rises to $40. Passengers can also check a second or third back for $40 each, regardless of weight.
Southwest has an even better deal on checking bags. Each customer can check two bags for free, as long as each weighs 50 pounds or less and doesn't exceed a combined length, width and height of 62 inches. If a bag is oversized, meaning it weighs 51 to 100 pounds or has a combined length, width and height ranging between 62 and 80 inches, the fee is $75 per bag.
Other Airlines' Baggage Fees
Cape Air and Southwest might offer free baggage check, but that doesn't necessarily mean those airlines are the best deals out there – that all depends on ticket prices.
When comparing flight prices, it might help to take into account the specific costs for checking bags on other airlines in North America. Here's what it costs to check a bag on flights from the following carriers:
- Alaska Airlines: Your first checked bag costs $25, as does your second. These bags must weigh 50 pounds or less and not exceed 62 inches in width, height and length. Your third and additional bags are $75 each, as are oversized bags.
- American Airlines: Baggage fees with American depend on where you're going and whether you participate in a loyalty program with the airline. Assuming you're not part of a loyalty program and you're traveling domestically, you can expect to pay $25 for your first checked bag, $35 for your second, $150 for your third and $200 for your fourth and each additional bag after that.
- Delta Airlines: Passengers flying economy within Canada or the United States on Delta must pay $25 to check their first bag and $35 to check their second.
- Frontier Airlines: If you're flying economy with Frontier, you'll have to pay $45 to check your first bag. A second bag would cost $50 to check.
- Hawaiian Airlines: Domestic flights with Hawaiian Airlines require a $25 fee for customers flying in economy to check their first bag, and $35 to check a second bag. If you're flying outside of the United States or in First Class, you can check two bags for free.
- JetBlue: Pricing for checked bags varies depending on whether you participate in a loyalty program, but for most fliers, it costs $25 to check your first bag, $35 for your second and $100 for your third and each additional bag thereafter.
- Porter: If you're flying Porter, you can expect to pay between $27.50 and $31.62 for your first checked bag, between $37.50 and $43.13 for your second and between $92.50 and $106.38 for your third.
- Silver Airways: If you book a flight and checked baggage space online through Silver Airways, you would pay about $25 to check your first bag on a domestic flight, or $30 if the flight is international. For your second bag, it would cost $35 for domestic and $40 for international flights. These prices rise if you book a checked bag by calling reservations the day before your flight, visiting the ticket counter on the day of departure or check your bag at the gate.
Spirit Airlines: Spirit actually charges for carry-on baggage as well as checked bags
– your only freebie is a personal item. Prices vary depending on your specific flight, but typical costs for a domestic flight would be: $26 for a carry-on, $21 for the first checked bag, $31 for the second checked bag and $76 each for the third through fifth checked bags. If any of your checked baggage weighs more than 40 pounds, you'll have to pay additional fees. * United Airlines: If you're flying economy on United within Canada or the United States, you can expect to pay $25 to check your first bag and $35 for your second. Your bags can weigh a maximum of 50 pounds and their length, width and height must not exceed a total of 62 inches.