Airlines pay a lot of attention to how much your bags weigh. Most of them have restrictions on how heavy your carry-on items are permitted to be, and if your checked luggage exceeds a particular airline's weight limit, you will have to pay extra.

Passengers are also under increased scrutiny, not so much for what they weigh but how much seat space they take up. Each airline has its own published limits and policies when it comes to bags and how much they weigh. Read below to understand the allowed weight of carry-on bags, checked bags and how the weight of passengers themselves factor into the flying experience.

Checked Baggage

The fee you are now paying to check a bag does not cover oversized luggage. While each airline has its own weight restrictions, domestic carriers such as Delta and U.S. Airways allow checked baggage that weighs up to 50 pounds. Southwest is another major airline that allows you to check bags for free, but still has a baggage allowance.

If your bag weighs more than that, you will have to pay an additional fee. Your bag will be weighed by airline personnel at the check-in counter when you drop it off. The maximum weight of bags may vary based off what flying class you are in as well. On some airlines, basic economy will have one allowance and first class may have another, for example.

Carry-On Baggage

Most airlines permit you to carry on a bag and a personal item. Each airline sets its own weight restrictions, but domestic carriers such as Delta and U.S. Airways allow carry-on luggage that weighs up to 40 pounds.

There are other size restrictions to pay attention to. The overhead bins and space under the seats will not accommodate baggage that is too large. Look for signs at the check-in counter and at the gate that show you the acceptable dimensions of carry-on luggage. If your bag weighs more than 40 pounds, the airline could require you to check it.

Most often, carry-on bags are laptop bags, duffel bags that fit within the size limits or backpacks. Because these items often just store essentials like snacks, chargers, electronics, credit cards and medication, it is hard for them to exceed the weight.

Passenger Weight

Airlines generally dislike the subject of passenger weight. They recognize that customers who may be overweight are deserving of sensitivity and will not want to be singled out or offended. However, sometimes these passengers may be required to purchase additional seating or move to balance out the plane.

There are no weight allowances or outright restrictions for passengers in place, although Southwest Airlines does have a "Customers of Size" policy which uses the armrest to determine whether a second seat should be purchased. If a heavier passenger cannot lower the armrest, a second seat must be purchased, with price refunded after the flight.

FAA Weight Averages

The Federal Aviation Administration sets an average weight per traveler and carry-on luggage to estimate how much weight planes will carry. According to The New York Times, the average weight assigned to each passenger by the FAA is 200 pounds for men, 179 pounds for women and 76 pounds for children under 13. These estimates include 16 pounds per person of carry-on luggage and averages in the weight of winter and summer clothing.


These travel tips are meant tio aid you in your next trip, whether you are taking domestic flights or international flights, using these tips will save you grief. Be sure to double check each airline’s policies and you should successfully avoid baggage fees, and any unwanted social situations.