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Delta baggage fees and how to avoid paying them

Oct. 29, 2022
13 min read
Delta plane
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Editor's Note

We've updated this post with new information.

Checked baggage fees are some of the most frustrating fees associated with flying, yet they are incredibly common these days. These fees often can be confusing, but Delta Air Lines baggage fees are easy to understand due to the carrier's clear policies and charts.

While Delta checked bag fees could add up quickly, there are many ways to receive your first — and many times even second — checked bag for free.

This comprehensive guide will cover what you need to know about the Delta baggage policy.

Delta carry-on guidelines

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

All passengers on a Delta flight can bring one carry-on bag and one personal item free of charge. Personal items — such as a laptop bag, briefcase, small backpack or diaper bag — must fit under the seat in front of you. You can store a larger carry-on bag in the overhead bin.

However, per the Delta carry-on guidelines, you’re only allowed a personal item on Delta Connection flights with 50 seats or fewer due to limited overhead space. Personal items must fit securely under the seat in front of you or in an overhead bin. You’ll need to check your carry-on luggage as you board the plane, but there’s no charge. And you’ll typically get this baggage back when you deplane.

Carry-on luggage must not exceed a combined length, width and height of 45 linear inches. Also, your carry-on bag can’t be more than 22 inches long, 14 inches wide and 9 inches high. All measurements include any handles and wheels. These size restrictions don’t apply if your carry-on is a small musical instrument.

With the Delta carry-on guidelines, there’s also no weight restriction for your bag unless you are traveling from the following locations:

  • Singapore: 15 pounds or less.
  • Beijing: 22 pounds or less.
  • Shanghai: 22 pounds or less.

There are also a few exceptions where you can bring additional items on board for free. For example, if you’re traveling with a child, you can check a stroller or car seat at the gate. Alternatively, if you booked a seat for your child (required for those 2 years old and older) or if there’s an open passenger seat in your row, you can bring a Federal Aviation Administration-approved car seat on board.

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Related: What is Delta Air Lines elite status worth?

Delta baggage policy

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Delta makes it relatively easy to check baggage. Within 24 hours of your departure, you can check in on Delta's website or mobile app and notify Delta of the number of bags you plan to check. If you’ve already checked in, you can use the baggage drop lane at the airport. You may also check in and pay for bags at the airport.

The Delta baggage policy allows passengers to check up to two bags per flight. But some passengers have to pay a Delta checked bag fee.

The fee varies based on route and fare class, but those with Delta elite status or a Delta credit card will sometimes get the fee waived. Your baggage’s length, width and height must not add up to more than 62 inches.

Delta baggage fees for flights within the United States

For those traveling within the United States, here’s how much you can expect to pay for a first or second checked bag:

First bag in basic economy, Main Cabin and Comfort+Second bag in basic economy, Main Cabin and Comfort+First bag in Premium Select, first class and Delta OneSecond bag in Premium Select, first class and Delta One
General member$30.$40.Free.Free.
Delta Medallion Silver memberFree.$40.Free.Free (and third bag free).
Delta Medallion Gold memberFree.Free.Free.Free (and third bag free).
Delta Medallion Platinum or Diamond memberFree.Free (and third bag free).Free.Free (and third bag free).

The Delta baggage weight limit is 50 pounds per bag for passengers booked in basic economy, Main Cabin and Premium Select and 70 pounds per bag for passengers flying in Delta One or first class. Additionally, passengers with Delta Medallion elite status have a 70-pound weight limit per bag before they face extra fees.

There are some exceptions to the above rules, though. For example, all passengers traveling to or from Key West, Florida, are limited to just one checked bag. Additionally, the first checked bag fee doesn’t apply if you’re traveling to or from the United States and Canada to either Tocumen International Airport (PTY) in Panama or El Salvador International Airport (SAL). Lastly, you can't bring excess baggage (weight, size or piece) on Delta Connection or other regional jet flights to or from cities in Mexico.

Related: Easy ways to earn more Delta SkyMiles

Delta baggage fees for flights between the United States and most international destinations

The Delta checked baggage fee varies based on your route for travel between the United States and most other international destinations. You can check the fee of an already booked flight or one that you are looking to book here. But here’s an overview of what to expect:

First bag in basic economy, Main Cabin and Comfort+Second bag in basic economy, Main Cabin and Comfort+First bag in Premium Select, first class and Delta OneSecond bag in Premium Select, first class and Delta One
General member$0 (select basic economy routes have a fee).Check fee.Free.Free.
Delta Medallion Silver memberFree.Free.Free.Free (and third bag free).
Delta Medallion Gold memberFree.Free.Free.Free (and third bag free).
Delta Medallion Platinum or Diamond memberFree.Free (and third bag free).Free.Free (and third bag free).

The Delta baggage weight limit for international flights is also 50 pounds per bag for most passengers. However, if you are flying in first class or Delta One, the baggage weight limit is 70 pounds per bag.

Military baggage fees

If you’re an active member of the United States Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, Navy or Coast Guard — regardless of whether you’re traveling on military orders or for leisure — you won’t have to pay the same fees as above.

Basic economy, Main Cabin and Comfort+Premium SelectFirst class and Delta One
Military ordersFive free bags (up to 100 pounds per bag).Five free bags (up to 100 pounds per bag).Five free bags (up to 100 pounds per bag).
Personal travelTwo free bags (up to 50 pounds per bag). Three free bags (up to 50 pounds per bag).Three free bags (up to 70 pounds per bag).

Those traveling on military orders can check a bag up to 80 inches in combined length, width and height. For personal or leisure travel as an active military member, your bag can be up to 62 linear inches.

Overweight and oversize baggage fees

If you are checking a bag that exceeds the above weight or dimensions, you’ll face extra fees (although there’s an exception for some special items) in addition to the baggage fees.

With the Delta baggage policy, for flights within the United States (including the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico), you’ll be charged the following:

Overweight bag

  • 51 to 70 pounds: $100.
  • 71 to 100 pounds: $200.

Bags exceeding 100 pounds are not permitted.

Oversize bag

  • 63 inches to 80 inches: $200.

Bags larger than 80 inches are not permitted.

If you’re checking a special item (such as sporting equipment, musical instruments or medical supplies), you’ll want to check the fee for that particular item. Many special items don’t incur an excess fee, so you’ll only need to pay the standard checked bag fee. For example, ski and snowboard equipment often counts as a regular checked bag.

Excess baggage fees

If you need to check more baggage than the standard amount, Delta will allow up to 10 bags per passenger for flights operated by Delta or Delta Shuttle and up to four bags on Delta Connection flights (on a space-available basis).

Unless you are eligible to check three bags for free — per the above table — for domestic flights (including the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico), you’ll be charged $150 for the third checked bag and then $200 each for bags four through 10.

Prices to carry excess baggage on international flights vary depending on the route. However, some common routes cost the same as domestic pricing, such as flights to Canada, the Caribbean and Central America.

Excess bags must also be within the standard weight and dimension requirements. Otherwise, you’ll also face extra fees based on the excess weight or size.

Related: 5 things you need to know about Delta SkyMiles

How to avoid Delta checked bag fees

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Although Delta Air Lines charges passengers a fee to check bags, there are many ways for your bags to fly for free.

Elite status allowances

Those with Delta Medallion status — Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond — benefit from a checked-bag-fee waiver. When traveling domestically, Silver members can check one bag for free, Gold members can check two bags for free and Platinum and Diamond members can check three bags for free.

When traveling to or from the U.S. or Canada, Medallion members in Comfort+, Main Cabin or basic economy can check one additional bag up to 50 pounds over the standard cabin allowance. And Medallion members in Delta One, first class or Premium Select can check up to three free bags at up tp 70 pounds per bag.

Up to eight companions traveling on your reservation can also benefit from your elite baggage allowance on Delta-operated flights. However, for flights departing from Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) or Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS), this benefit doesn’t apply.

Related: How to change or cancel a Delta Air Lines flight

Credit cards

Several Delta credit cards give you a first checked bag free when flying Delta, including the following cards:

This first-checked-bag benefit can save you $30 per one-way or $60 on a round-trip flight. Up to eight additional companions on the same reservation as the cardmember can reap this benefit. For example, if you have four members of your family traveling together, that’s a savings of $120 each way or $240 for a round-trip flight.

Silver Medallion Members who hold an eligible Delta SkyMiles American Express Card will receive up to two free checked bags when traveling within the U.S. and Canada.

Book a premium cabin

As you can see in the charts above, those flying in the front of the plane can check additional bags for free. If you book a Premium Select, first-class or Delta One seat, you can check two bags for free. However, you’ll still face extra fees if your bag exceeds the standard size or weight.

Use card travel credits to cover fees

While many Delta travelers already have one of the Delta credit cards — which waives the fee for the first checked bag — there are a few other ways to cover the cost of checking your bag.

For example, several travel rewards cards come with annual statement credits toward travel purchases, which you can use toward Delta’s checked bag fees. One popular card is the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, with which you’ll receive up to $300 in annual travel credit.

There’s also The Platinum Card® from American Express, which allows you to pick an airline of choice at the beginning of the year to receive airline fee credits. So long as you enroll in this benefit and select Delta as your airline of choice, you could reimburse your baggage fees with this credit.

Use Delta SkyMiles to pay for baggage fees

Finally, SkyMiles members with flights originating from most domestic airports can pay for standard checked bag fees with miles instead of cash. To redeem Delta miles for baggage fees, select the option to pay for luggage with miles while checking in on Delta's website, through the Delta mobile app or at an airport kiosk. You can't purchase excess or overweight baggage with miles, though.

Related: Carry-on vs. checked bags: Which is the better choice?

Bottom line

The Delta checked baggage policy is pretty straightforward. Plus, there are many ways to waive luggage fees for you and your traveling companions when flying Delta.

Finally, Delta offers a baggage guarantee. Based on this guarantee, if your checked bag doesn’t arrive at the baggage carousel within 20 minutes after any domestic flight, you can request 2,500 bonus miles. This guarantee is a unique opportunity to hold Delta accountable and earn bonus miles when it doesn’t meet your expectations.

Additional reporting by Ehsan Haque.

Featured image by ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
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  • Annual Fee

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

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Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees