Alaska Airlines baggage fees and how to avoid paying them

Jun 5, 2022

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Alaska Airlines has a fairly comprehensive policy regarding checked baggage fees and carry-on guidelines. The Alaska Airlines baggage policy also provides a variety of ways to avoid paying those fees.

Your ability to avoid those fees depends on many factors, including where you’re flying and whether you have elite status or carry select Alaska credit cards. This guide will cover all the information you need to know about Alaska Airlines baggage fees.

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Alaska Airlines carry-on guidelines

Alaska Airlines plane
(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The Alaska Airlines carry-on guidelines are simple to understand and customer-friendly.

Everyone is entitled to bring one personal item and one carry-on bag onto every flight, even customers who purchase Alaska’s version of basic economy, Saver Fares.

According to Alaska, a personal item should be able to fit underneath the seat in front of a passenger. Examples of personal items are backpacks, purses, briefcases, laptop bags and approved pet carriers.

Meanwhile, the Alaska carry-on size restrictions require that your carry-on bag be no larger than 22 inches by 14 inches by 9 inches.

Related: Best sweet spots with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Alaska Airlines baggage policy

Alaska Airlines Airbus A321
(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Alaska Airlines’ checked bag fees are among the most generous in the industry and also represent the unique destinations the airline serves in Alaska.

Alaska’s checked bag fees are the same for virtually everywhere it flies. But you can avoid those fees in several ways, including if you hold select Alaska credit cards (such as the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card) or have status with Alaska Airlines or the Oneworld alliance.

Alaska Airlines baggage fees

Unlike United and Spirit Airlines, you won’t need a fancy calculator to determine how much your checked bags will cost. You’ll also find some of the lowest fees, as you can see in the table below:

First bag Second bag
Customers with no status and no eligible credit card $30. $40.
Eligible credit cardholders Free. $40.
MVP and MVP Gold Mileage Plan members Free. Free.
Oneworld Ruby and Sapphire members Free. Free.
MVP Gold 75K and 100K Mileage Plan members Free. Free (and third bag free).
Oneworld Emerald members Free. Free (and third bag free).
Club 49 members (traveling to, from or through Alaska) Free. Free.
Customers traveling wholly within Alaska Free. Free (and third bag free).
Active duty U.S. military and dependents Free. Free (and fifth bag free).
Customers traveling in First Class Free. Free.

Alaska’s baggage weight limit before incurring fees is 50 pounds per bag. Active U.S. military and their dependents get an exemption, though, as the weight limit for these passengers is 70 pounds per bag.

Unique destination rules

There are a few unique exceptions when it comes to the Alaska Airlines baggage policy. For starters, as the proud home carrier of the state of Alaska, Alaska Airlines has a very generous policy of allowing three free checked bags for all passengers traveling wholly within Alaska. Alaska Airlines does have some seasonal limits, though, and maintains a list of those limits on its website.

Alaska also allows Mileage Plan members to bring a case of wine as a free checked bag (which doesn’t count against your baggage allowance) from a select list of airports.

And, Alaska has what may be the most fun baggage exception I’ve seen: You can bring a full case of pineapples from any of the Hawaii airports Alaska serves to the U.S. and it won’t count against your baggage allowance. Talk about a sweet deal.

Overweight and oversize baggage fees

Alaska Airlines charges both an overweight fee and an oversize fee as follows:

  • Overweight fee: $100 per bag weighing between 51 and 100 pounds.
  • Oversize fee: $100 per bag between 63 and 115 linear inches, including wheels and handles.

So, you’ll want to avoid checking overweight or oversize baggage if at all possible.

Excess baggage fees

The Alaska baggage policy states that all excess bags will cost $100 per bag. But, due to the unique nature of certain destinations, there are further restrictions for some destinations and dates of travel. Alaska maintains a list of these exceptions on its website.

Sporting equipment

From bicycles to fishing rods, Alaska Airlines will let you check many types of sports equipment for free. Skis, snowboards, hang gliding equipment, parachutes and many more items can count as a checked bag as long as they meet the requirements.

Alaska will even waive the overweight and oversized fees on many of these items. And, unlike many other airlines that have an extra surcharge for scuba tanks, Alaska will accept those as checked baggage without an additional fee.

You can check out the requirements and fees for checking sports equipment on Alaska’s website.

Related: The ultimate guide to flying with sports equipment

How to avoid Alaska Airlines baggage fees

Alaska check in area
(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Luckily, there are several ways to avoid paying Alaska Airlines baggage fees, even if you want to bring checked baggage on your next flight.

Elite status allowances

All four status levels in the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program offer checked bag benefits:

  • MVP and MVP Gold members receive a free first and second checked bag for themselves and up to eight traveling companions on the same reservation.
  • MVP Gold 75K and MVP Gold 100K members receive a free first, second and third checked bag for themselves and up to eight traveling companions on the same reservation.

Additionally, Oneworld alliance members receive a baggage allowance on all flights operated by Alaska:

  • Oneworld Ruby and Sapphire members receive a free first checked bag.
  • Oneworld Emerald members receive a free first and second checked bag.

Related: What is Alaska Airlines elite status worth?

Credit cards

Alaska has several credit cards that offer baggage fee waivers as a benefit. The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card gives the primary cardholder and up to six traveling companions a free first checked bag on all flights operated by Alaska.

You must book the flight with your Alaska Airlines Visa to receive the benefit. However, travelers who hold the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card receive the same benefit.

Related: These 27 credit cards can get you free checked bags

Fly first class

If you’re flying in first class on any flight operated by Alaska Airlines, you can bring up to two checked bags without paying extra fees.

Related: The ultimate guide to getting upgraded on Alaska Airlines

Use card travel credits to cover fees

Several travel rewards cards come with annual statement credits toward travel purchases. Some cards offer a credit that you can use for various travel purchases, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve and its $300 annual travel credit.

On the other hand, some American Express cards, like The Platinum Card® from American Express, offer annual credits for incidental airline fees. So long as you enroll in this benefit and select Alaska as your airline of choice, your baggage fees could be eligible for reimbursement through this credit.

Related: How to avoid checked baggage fees on major domestic airlines

Bottom line

The Alaska Airlines baggage policy is relatively customer-friendly. Alaska does a good job of keeping its fees simple and provides several ways to avoid checked baggage fees for passengers. Further, Alaska’s carry-on policy of allowing a full-size carry-on bag and a personal item on all tickets, including Saver Fares, sets it a notch ahead of most other airlines.

One important detail to note is that free bags are for the first and second checked bag fee and can’t be “stacked” on top of each other. For example, an Alaska MVP Gold member who holds the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card can’t get three free checked bags, even though they’re entitled to two as a Gold member and a free checked bag with the credit card.

Featured image by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.

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