October 20, 2017

Alaska Airlines Baggage Fees: What You Need to Know

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Alaska Airlines is a great budget-friendly carrier, especially for flyers who frequent the West Coast or Alaska. But the low fares can be undermined by unanticipated fees. Learn what to look out for.

© tomasdelcoro (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

Read this guide for smart ways to avoid fees on Alaska Airlines. Scroll down for our tips on everything from booking your tickets to getting around those checked bag fees.

  • Buy your tickets online. You probably already save on this fee without even thinking about it; booking flights through the Alaska Airlines call center comes with an extra $15 fee, but booking online is free. You can call in with your questions, but be sure to make the final purchase online.

  • Pack light. With Alaska, you can bring one free carry-on as long as it measures 24"x17"x10" or smaller. If you're going on a short trip, you can save at least $25 by packing everything you need into that carry-on.

    If you need to check bags on a regular economy flight, here's what you'll pay:

    • $25 for your first checked bag
    • $25 for your second checked bag
    • $75 each for any additional bags

    Depending on your flight, you might qualify for some key exceptions to those charges:

    • 1st, 2nd, and 3rd checked bags are free for flights solely within the state of Alaska
    • 1st and 2nd checked bags are free for First Class passengers, Elite Level Mileage Plan members, and some American AAdvantage members
    • 1st and 2nd checked bags are free for Club 49 members (making at least one stop in Alaska)
    • The first 5 checked bags are free for active duty U.S. military personnel (with valid military IDs)
    • The first 5 checked bags are free for active duty U.S. military personnel dependents (with valid military IDs and travel orders)

    Tip: Alaska will let you check some types of luggage with no fee. You can bring some medical and mobility assistive devices onboard at no extra charge (think wheelchairs, canes, and crutches) as well as FAA-approved child seats (when they're in use).

  • Measure and weigh your bags. In addition to the $25 fee for your first checked bag, you'll have to pay extra for larger and heavier bags:

    • $75 for a bag weighing 51-100 pounds
    • $75 for a bag measuring 63"-115" linear

    Unlike some other airlines, Alaska won't tack on two extra charges for bags that are both oversized and overweight. For example, if your first checked bag weighs 70 pounds and measures 100 linear inches, you'll pay $25 to check it plus one $75 fee.

    Tip: Alaska's size and weight restrictions vary for some musical instruments (provided they're packed into the appropriate cases) and are waived altogether for some types of sporting equipment. Another quirky exception: you won't be charged for checking one box of pineapples on flights within the U.S. from Honolulu (HNL), Kona (KOA), Maui (OGG), or Kauai (LIH).

  • Opt for regular seating. Alaska offers upgrades to premium seating - which come with more legroom, complimentary cocktails, and early boarding - starting at $15. Skip the upgrade (and the extra charge) and you'll still have access to non-alcoholic beverages, some snacks, and movies and entertainment for no extra cost.

  • Download the Gogo┬« Entertainment App. On Alaska flights, you'll have to pay extra for internet access. You'll be charged anywhere from $1.95-$39.95 for inflight internet or $16 for an all-day pass. There's an easy way to avoid that charge: download the Gogo Entertainment App before you board.
    Once you've reached about 10,000 feet, you'll be able to connect to the gogoinflight network and use the app to stream select TV shows and movies - all for free. Keep in mind, access to "premium" titles and using one of the airline's entertainment pads will run you extra, so it can't hurt to bring your computer and download your preferred flick ahead of time.

  • Pack your snacks. Some juices, sodas, and coffee are complimentary on Alaska flights, but you'll pay $6-$8 for snack packs and sandwiches. As inflight dining options go, that's not too bad, but if you're really looking to budget for your trip, you can save by packing some TSA-approved food and drinks in your carry-on.

  • Stick to your plans. Although Alaska gives some leeway here, you might run into fees for changing or canceling your itinerary:

    • $25 for same day confirmed changes
    • $125 change/cancellation fee for changes made less than 60 days prior to departure
    • No change/cancellation fee for changes made more than 60 days prior to departure
    • No change/cancellation fee for changes made to travel wholly within the state of Alaska

    Those charges apply to passengers flying in the main cabin, but Alaska is a bit more forgiving of First Class and Mileage Plan members. You can compare those charges on Alaska's fee chart.

  • Join Alaska's Mileage Plan. If you frequently fly in or between Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and other major U.S. cities, joining Alaska's frequent flyer program might save you money in the long run. Once you qualify for MVP status, you'll enjoy priority boarding, 2 free checked bags, and free upgrades on Alaska flights.

    Alaska residents can join Club 49 to enjoy 2 free checked bags on flights with at least one stop in Alaska, and 2 Travel Now discounts per year (good for 30% off some one-way Refundable Coach fares from or within Alaska.)

  • Book with a card that reimburses bag fees. If you fly frequently, you might be able to avoid checked bag fees by using a travel rewards card that offers travel credits.

  • More questions about fees? Alaska Airlines makes it pretty easy to anticipate their fees. You can browse all of their fees (and fee exceptions) on their Services and Fees page.

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