Southwest Airlines Baggage Policy

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About Southwest Airlines

Whenever you plan to travel with an airline, it’s crucial that you learn about every detail and policy they have to offer. Similar to other airlines, Southwest Airlines also has a system which assists passengers and makes their journey seamless. The Southwest Airlines baggage policy is also created by the airline, which explains how much luggage is allowed in the cargo and cabin for each passenger. 

Southwest is one of the major airlines of the United States and is headquartered in Dallas, Texas. It was founded in 1967 and considered as the largest low-cost airline of the world. With its primary hub at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, the airline also has an operating base at 10 other cities of the USA. As of now, it serves 121 destinations of the United States and 10 other countries of America.

Baggage Allowance Policy

Planning to travel with Aerolineas Argentinas? Then before boarding your flight, check out these guidelines explaining Southwest Airlines baggage allowance for a clearer picture. 

  • Each passenger is allowed one piece of carry-on bag and one piece of personal item bag, with Southwest Airlines. 
  • You can take the first two checked bags for free, and if you still have to carry any luggage the baggage fee will be levied. 
  • Domestic cats and dogs are allowed in the passenger cabin, provided that you keep it in the pet carrier and take full responsibility for it. They are not allowed on international flights.
  • You can travel with your kids seamlessly, provided that you follow some basic guidelines and avoid chaos. 
  • All the baggage that crosses the limit of checked baggage will be termed as excess baggage and will incur a fee.

Carry-On Baggage Allowance 

  • As per Southwest Airlines baggage weight limit guidelines, you can take upto one piece of carry-on baggage and one personal item bag with you in the cabin.
  • If you’re traveling with pets, then either your personal item bag or carry-on bag will be counted as a pet carrier.
  • Your wheeled or non-wheeled carry-on bag must not exceed the dimensions of 24” (L) + 16” (W) + 10” (H). If it does, it will have to be checked. 
  • If your carry-on bag needs to be checked then, it will be safely stowed below the plane and you can pick it up at baggage claim when you arrive at your final destination. Assistive devices and strollers may be claimed at the gate / jet bridge. If your bag needs to be checked, be sure to remove the following:
  • Medication
  • E-cigarettes
  • Spare batteries
  • Assistive devices (i.e., canes, etc.)
  • Keys
  • The Personal item bag includes purses, briefcases, cameras, food containers, or laptops (case included). It should be of maximum limit which is: 16.25” (L) + 13.5” (W) + 8” (H) and must fit in the space under the seat in front of you. 

Items not counted as carry-on bag or personal item

  • A child restraint system.
  • Assistive/mobility devices for individuals with a disability. There is no limit to the number of assistive/mobility devices you can bring onboard.
  • Outer garments or other wearable articles of clothing.
  • Food in disposable packaging.
  • Walking canes or umbrellas.

Restricted / prohibited items as carry-on and personal item

In accordance with Southwest Airlines baggage policy, please make sure that any sharp objects (especially needles, syringes, and other items needed for medication) are properly covered and secured to prevent injury. Please tell a Flight Attendant if you use a needle / syringe while onboard, so they may provide a disposal container.

  • Traveling with liquids, aerosol, gels, creams, and pastes

Each Passenger is allowed to pack one quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosol, gels, creams, and pastes in their carryon bag. These are limited to 3.4 oz (100 mL) or less per item. Any liquid, aerosol, gel, cream, or paste that triggers an alarm during screening will require additional screening. Medications and infant and child nourishments are exempt from the 3.4 oz limit.

The airline prohibits carriage of self-defense sprays (such as pepper spray) on all flights; they are also not allowed in Southwest Airlines checked baggage or otherwise.

Passengers traveling internationally into the United States with a connecting flight are allowed to pack more than 3.4 oz or 100 mL of liquids purchased in duty-free shops in their carryon baggage. These liquids must be secured in tamper-evident bags. 

Liquids that cannot be screened and cleared by TSA will not be allowed in a carryon bag. Passengers can pack these items in their checked baggage, if available, or forfeit them before entering the secure area of the airport. This may include liquids in opaque, ceramic, or metallic bottles, or other containers that cannot be effectively scanned.

  • Traveling with lithium batteries, e-cigarettes, and lighters

Passengers can travel with up to 20 spare batteries at a time. This includes portable chargers and external battery chargers for mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. Portable chargers and spare batteries must be packed in your carryon bag or with you onboard.

Because e-cigarettes are designed to operate by creating heat, they must be placed in a carryon bag or with you onboard. E-cigarettes aren’t allowed in checked bags. Don’t forget, you cannot use e-cigarettes onboard.

Passengers are also allowed to travel with one lighter, which must be in your carryon or with you onboard. Note: lighters with fuel are prohibited in checked bags, unless they adhere to the Department of Transportation exemption, which allows up to two fueled lighters if properly enclosed in a DOT approved case.

Checked Baggage Allowance 

  • In accordance with Southwest Airline baggage allowance, each passenger can check the first two bags for free, irrespective of the fare type and destination. 
  • Your checked baggage must meet the allowed limit of 50 pounds and 62 inches per bag.
  • You can take special items such as skis and golf bags for free, and surfboards for free, if you’re traveling to Hawaii.
  • To save your time at the airport, you can self-tag your bag at a kiosk at many of the airports. This way, your luggage will be dropped and picked by an airport’s employee and will be handed over to you at your destination.
  • To check more than two bags, each additional bag will cost USD 75 each way as long as it is no bigger than 62 inches (L+W+H) and weighs 50 lbs. or less. 
  • Excess baggage that is also overweight or oversized, will be charged excess baggage fee plus the applicable oversize or overweight fee
  • Any item weighing more than 100 pounds and exceeding 80 inches in size must be shipped as Air Cargo, as decided under Southwest Airlines baggage policy.
  • Active-duty Military Passengers with a current, valid military ID will be exempt from the checked baggage limit and excess / oversize / overweight baggage charges, provided that their luggage doesn’t exceed 100 pounds in weight and 80 inches in size. 

Items prohibited in checked baggage 

  • You are not allowed to check lithium batteries. While you’re allowed to travel with up to 20 spare batteries at a time, spare batteries must be packed in your carry-on bag or be with you onboard.
  • Since e-cigarettes are designed to operate by creating heat, they must be placed in a carry-on bag or be with you onboard. A friendly reminder, you are not allowed to use e-cigarettes onboard in the aircraft.
  • Passengers are also allowed to travel with one lighter, but not in checked baggage. Rather, it must be in your carryon or with you onboard.
  • The airline currently prohibits self-defense sprays on any flight for both checked or carry-on baggage. Lithium batteries that are damaged, defective, or recalled for safety reasons are not allowed in checked baggage, carryon baggage, or cargo.

Checked Baggage Policy For Lost and Damaged Baggage

  • Southwest Airlines takes no responsibility and will not be liable for loss or damage arising from normal wear and tear, such as cuts, scratches, scuffs, stains, dents, punctures, marks, and dirt on the luggage. 
  • Southwest Airlines assumes no responsibility and will not be liable for any fragile items such as money; jewelry; photographic, video, and optical equipment; computers and other electronic equipment; computer software; silverware, etc. 
  • In accordance with Southwest Airlines baggage policy, the airline is liable for the loss or damage of protruding parts of luggage and other articles of checked baggage (e.g., wheels, feet, pockets, hanger hooks, pull handles, straps, zippers, locks, security straps).
  • The compensation provided by Southwest Airlines (if any) for the loss, damage, or delay in delivery of carryon or checked baggage is limited to the proven amount of damage or loss, not to exceed $3,800.00 per fare-paying customer.
  • If your baggage gets delayed, it will be transported to the location of your choice. Make sure to share the particular address information with the airline.
  • If your bag has been lost, damaged, or delayed, you must report this, in person, at the Southwest Airlines Baggage Service Office within four hours of arriving at your domestic destination or seven days of arriving at your international destination. The office is in the baggage claim area or at the ticket counter at the airport. Further, if you’ve left the airport, contact the airline’s customer support at 1-855-234-4654.

Southwest Airlines Baggage Policy For Infants

If you’re traveling with an infant or small child, you should know that proper use of a child restraint system (CRS) enhances child safety on aircraft. For this reason, we and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) strongly recommend that infants and small children who weigh 40 pounds or less be secured in an appropriate CRS when traveling by air. 

Traveling with an infant on an international flight

  • One child over 14 days old and under two years of age not occupying a seat may be carried free of charge when traveling with someone 12 years of age or older.
  • If you plan to travel with an infant as a Lap Child, you must pay the taxes and fees that apply to the international portion of the flight’s itinerary. The taxes and fees must be paid prior to travel.  
  • If you choose to purchase a seat so your infant can travel in a child restraint system (CRS), they need a boarding pass, in accordance with Southwest Airlines baggage policy. 
  • If you choose to travel with your infant on your lap (at no additional charge), they don’t need a boarding pass; however, you’ll need a Boarding Verification Document (BVD) for the infant so they can board. BVDs can be printed at the airport on the day of travel at a kiosk or the ticket counter. 

Guidelines for Child Restraint System

  • It is important to note that the CARES CRS is the only harness-type device approved for use onboard. The device is designed for infants weighing between 22 and 44 pounds and must have a label that indicates, “FAA Approved in Accordance with 14 CFR 21.305(d), Approved for Aircraft Use Only.”   
  • Additionally, please know the FAA has banned certain types of child restraints that may be harmful to a child in the event of an aviation emergency. These include backless booster seats and any device that ties the child to another person. 

Guidelines For Pregnant Passengers

While flying doesn’t usually cause problems during pregnancy, in some cases, traveling by air has been known to cause complications or premature labor. If you’re pregnant, you should consult your physician before flying. 

The Airline recommends pregnant women to not travel by air from beginning at the 38th week of pregnancy. Depending on physical condition, strength, and agility, you may, in some cases, be asked not to sit in the emergency exit row if pregnant. 

Southwest Airlines Pet Policy

  • The airline welcomes small vaccinated domestic cats and dogs in an appropriate pet carrier in the cabin on domestic flights. Carriers must be stowed under your seat. For Customers traveling to Puerto Rico, specific requirements may apply. As per Southwest Airlines baggage rule, no pets are allowed on flights to or from Hawaii. 
  • The fare is charged as USD 95 per way, per pet carrier. You must pay the fare at the airport’s ticket counter. 
  • The space for pets is subject to availability. Hence, you are advised to make a reservation in advance, to avoid the unnecessary chaos. The airline accepts pets on a first-come, first-served basis until they reach the six-carrier capacity. 
  • Pet carriers are considered either a personal item or a carryon item. You may board the aircraft with either a pet carrier and a personal item or a pet carrier and a regular size carry-on bag.
  • Pets must be secured in the pet carrier at all times while in the gate area, during boarding/deplaning, and for the entire flight. If you don’t follow this requirement, your pet may be denied transportation.
  • Pets are not allowed on international flights and not allowed to travel alone with unaccompanied minors. 
  • Although the airline won’t ask for documentation, your pets must be fully vaccinated, as per Southwest Airlines baggage policy.
  • Those traveling with pets may not sit in an exit row seat or a seat with no under-seat stowage in front of them.

Southwest Airlines Special Baggage Allowance

  • Sports Equipment

Any of the items listed below may be checked in substitution of one piece of the free Southwest Airlines checked baggage allowance for you at no charge on a one-item-for-one-bag basis. If the item of sporting equipment exceeds 50 pounds in weight or 62 inches in size (outside length plus height plus width), excess weight and size charges may apply. The items are: 

  • Archery equipment
  • Baseball and softball equipment
  • Boogie or kneeboard
  • Bowling equipment
  • Bicycles
  • Fishing tackle box and fishing rod
  • Golf equipment
  • Hockey and/or lacrosse equipment
  • Blades
  • Parachutes
  • Scuba equipment
  • Skateboards
  • Snow ski equipment
  • Surfing equipment
  • Water ski equipment

Specialized sports equipment

The items listed below will be accepted as Checked Baggage for USD 75 each way charge:

  • Bicycles 
  • Javelins 
  • Kayak 
  • Kiteboard 
  • Life raft cartridges
  • Surfboard bag 
  • Vaulting poles 
  • Windsurfing board
  • Batteries

Dry cell batteries

Dry cell batteries are allowed in checked and carry-on Southwest Airlines baggage. This includes Alkaline, NiCad, Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH), Silver Oxide, and Carbon Zinc batteries similar to those used in flashlights or commonly used electronic devices.

Batteries must be protected from damage and creating sparks or a dangerous evolution of heat. If installed, the device must be protected from activation by protecting the “on/off” switch or using a trigger guard. If this is not possible, the battery or batteries must be removed and packaged to prevent short circuit.

Fuel cells

Fuel cells used to power portable electronic devices (e.g., cameras, cellular phones, laptop computers, camcorders) are allowed under the following conditions:

  • Fuel cells containing fuel are permitted in carry-on baggage only.
  • Fuel cells and fuel cell cartridges may only contain flammable liquids, corrosive substances, liquefied flammable gas, water-reactive substances, or hydrogen in metal hydride.
  • Refueling of fuel cells on board an aircraft is not allowed, but you can install a spare cartridge on board.
  • Each fuel cell or cartridge must be marked with the maximum quantity and type of fuel.
  • Fuel cells whose sole function is to charge a battery in the device are not allowed.

Spillable wet cell

Wet cell batteries (like most car or motorcycle batteries) are not allowed in checked or carry-on baggage, in accordance with Southwest Airlines baggage policy.

The only exception is for a customer’s wheelchair or assistive device. If your wheelchair / assistive device is powered by a spillable wet cell battery, the battery will be removed from the wheelchair and transported in a special battery box. To allow for proper handling, please arrive at the gate one hour before departure and notify a Customer Service Agent that the battery is a wet cell spillable battery.

Non-spillable wet cell

Equipment containing non-spillable wet cell batteries (gel cell or absorbent glass mat) can be carried as cargo (shippers must meet all applicable security requirements). The equipment with the battery installed must be protected from short circuit and securely packaged. The package must be marked “Non-spillable” or “Non-spillable Battery.”

If you are traveling with a wheelchair or other assistive device that has a non-spillable battery, it is important to note that the battery will be disconnected at the quick disconnect, securely attached to the wheelchair / assistive device during transport and reattached at your destination.

Hoverboard batteries

Hoverboards, gravity boards, and self-balancing devices are not allowed in either checked baggage or as a carry-on item.

  • Guns, Ammunition, and Self-defense sprays
  • Customers are responsible for knowing and following the firearms laws of the state(s) that they will be traveling to, from, and through.
  • You must declare the gun at the ticket counter (no firearms will be accepted curbside) and ensure that the firearm(s) chambers are free of ammunition and the magazine clip has been removed (when applicable).
  • Paintball and Airsoft guns are allowed in Southwest Airlines checked baggage and are not subject to the container requirements of firearms. Customers must declare the paintball or Airsoft gun at the ticket counter.
  • Compressed gas cylinders are allowed in checked baggage or as a carryon only if the regulator valve is completely disconnected from the cylinder and the cylinder is no longer sealed (i.e., the cylinder has an open end). 
  • Firearms will count toward the two-piece free baggage allowance for each fare-paying Passenger. We allow multiple firearms to be transported inside one hard-sided case. Southwest Airlines assumes no liability for the misalignment of sights on firearms, including those equipped with telescopic sights. Firearms are never allowed in carryon luggage.
  • Loose ammunition or loose loaded magazines and/or clips are not allowed. Paintballs must be packaged in a leak-proof container and will be subject to limited release.
  • The airline prohibits carriage of self-defense sprays (such as pepper spray) on all flights; they are not allowed in checked bags or in your carryon.
  • Medications and oxygen
  • Medical pills are allowed to be carried in carry-on baggage, as per Southwest Airlines baggage guidelines. 
  • The airline is not equipped to transport or provide medical oxygen. Unfortunately, any Customer who requires a constant supply of compressed or liquid medical oxygen cannot travel on Southwest. 
  • Alcoholic Beverages

As per Southwest Airlines baggage policy, you can carry alcoholic beverage in checked baggage under following conditions: 

  • Alcohol (wine and liquor) must be in the original unopened container with the manufacturer’s label when transported as checked baggage.
  • The maximum quantity of liquor that may be transported in or as checked baggage is five liters per Customer. Wine is not subject to the five-liter per Customer limitation. Alcohol content may not exceed 70% by volume (140 proof).
  • Alcohol (wine and liquor) accepted as checked baggage must be contained within a corrugated box secured with sealing tape. The contents must be packed in a leak-proof bag with professional packaging designed to fit the proportions of the bottle to prevent breakage.
  • Liquor and wine packaging is available for sale at our ticket counters for USD 5 per unit.
  • The airline doesn’t accept liability for breakage of liquids or fragile items in checked luggage even if transported in special packaging purchased from Southwest.
  • All alcohol (wine and liquor) is subject to TSA screening.
  • Human Remains
  • Customers may take cremated remains on board as a carry-on item under certain conditions. Keep in mind that Southwest Airlines does not accept human remains as checked baggage.
  • Cremated remains must be inspected by the TSA at the security checkpoint. Southwest Airlines baggage policy recommends the transport of remains in a temporary plastic or cardboard container, that is typically provided by the crematorium to ensure the item can be cleared by X-ray screening. 
  • If the package cannot be screened, it is not permitted past the security checkpoint in carry-on baggage and must not be placed in checked baggage either.
  • If a Customer or funeral / cremation facility wishes to transport cremated remains via Southwest Airlines Cargo, contact the customer support for additional information and requirements.
  • Customers may take cremated pet remains on board as carry on items under the same conditions.
  • Musical Instruments
  • If your musical instrument (including case or covering) is within the size requirements for carryon items 24” (L) + 16” (W) + 10” (H), you may bring it with you as a carry-on item. If your instrument exceeds carry-on sizing requirements, it can still be carried onboard if it will fit in an overhead bin or under a seat if there is space available.
  • If you are traveling with a musical instrument that will not fit in an overhead bin or under a seat, you may purchase a seat for it. Some musical instruments (e.g., double bass, cello, etc.) cannot be secured in a seat and must be transported as Southwest Airlines checked baggage.
  • A musical instrument may be checked to substitute one piece of the free Checked Baggage allowance for each Passenger at no charge on a one-item-for-one-bag basis. Oversize or overweight charges will apply if the instrument is between 62 and 150 inches and weighs between 51 and 165 pounds. 
  • We won’t accept any musical instrument (when including the case or covering) if the sum of the length, height, and width of the outside linear dimensions exceeds 150 inches or the weight exceeds 165 pounds.
  • Instruments transported in soft-sided cases or other packaging, which is not strong enough to protect under normal baggage handling conditions will be subject to limited release. Southwest Airlines assumes no liability for any damage sustained to the item during transport.

FAQs

  • How early can I check my luggage, if I am traveling with Southwest Airlines?

    Southwest Airlines allows passengers to check in at least 3-4 hours prior to the scheduled departure of all flights.

  • How many free checked baggage can I carry with Southwest Airlines? 

    Southwest Airlines will allow free checked baggage of up to 50 lbs for all flight fares and destinations.

  • What is the Southwest Airlines baggage fee?

    Southwest Airlines charges an additional and excess baggage fee of USD 75 per item for all flight fare types. 

  • What should I do if my baggage is delayed or damaged?

    If you are at the airport, you can go to the Southwest Airlines baggage counter and report about the issue. If the luggage is damaged and the airline is responsible, then they will reimburse you.

  • What is Southwest Airlines baggage policy ?

    Southwest Airlines baggage policy allows you one piece of carry-on bag and one piece of personal item bag. The checked baggage of up to 50 lbs is allowed for all passengers. 

  • Can you check more than two bags in Southwest Airlines?

    Southwest Airlines allows you to check the first two bags for free. Post that, a baggage fee will be charged.

  • How can I pay the Southwest Airlines baggage fee?

    Southwest Airlines allows you to pay your baggage fee both at the airport counter and online via the official website.

  • Can I carry my pet on the Southwest Airlines flight? 

    Yes, Southwest Airlines only allows household pets dogs and cats in the passenger cabin. The pet must be kept in a pet carrier, under its owner's responsibility. 

  • What is Southwest Airlines baggage allowance for infants?

    As per Southwest Airlines baggage policy, infants are allowed one piece of diaper bag. 

  •  Is Southwest Airlines a good airline? 

    Southwest Airlines is Certified as a 4-Star Airline for the quality of its airport and onboard product and staff service. It promises unmatched reliability and great comfort while traveling, besides ensuring great customer services.

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