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What Happens if Your Luggage is Overweight?

It’s every traveler’s worst nightmare to make it to the airport and find out that their checked luggage is overweight. Most airlines have a strict policy for weight limits. If you are over the weight limit for your designated airlines, your options are limited:

  1. Pay an excessive fee to check your overweight bag.
  2. Rearrange your heavier items into your carry-on or personal bag
  3. If you traveled in a group, put your stuff in their checked bags
  4. Send some items home with whoever dropped you off
  5. Toss the items you can replace in the trash
  6. Ask the airport staff if they can check it anyway without the fee (it does occasionally work)

If possible, always try to weigh your luggage before you get to the airport.

How Much Does it Cost if Your Luggage is Overweight?

Each major airline will have a baggage fee if your checked bag is over the limit. We’ve put together a list of some of the most popular airlines weight limits and baggage fees:

AirlineWeight LimitSize Limit (length+width+heightBaggage FeeBaggage Policy Link
Southwest50 lbs62 inches51-100lbs = $100 feeSouthwest Baggage Policy
American Airlines50 lbs

70 lbs for First and Business Class
62 inches51-70 lbs = $100

71-100 lbs = $200
American Airlines Baggage Policy
United Airlines50 lbs

70 lbs for First and Business Class
62 inches51-70 lbs = $200

71-100 lbs = $400
United Baggage Policy
JetBlue50 lbs62 inches51-99 lbs = $150jetBLue Baggage Policy
Delta50 lbs62 inches51-70 lbs = $100

71-100 lbs = $200
Delta Baggage Policy

Carry On Luggage

The standard domestic carry-on luggage size is 22″ x 14″ x 9″, which also includes the handles and wheels. The idea is to that you should be able to stow your bag in an overhead bin or under the seat in front of you without causing discomfort to any other passenger.

There is no fixed weight for carry-on luggage but it’s important to ensure that it isn’t stuffed and difficult to carry around.

Check In Luggage

The standard luggage size for check-in luggage is 27″ x 21″ x 14″. If a check-in luggage is oversized it may be reclassified as ‘large baggage’ or ‘overweight’ baggage. All airlines charge a fee that varies between $75 -$100 for luggage that weighs over 50 pounds. For luggage weighing over 75 pounds, the fee varies between $75 -$200. For luggage that is just ‘oversized’, the fee varies between $75 -$200 depending on the airline.

Don’t forget that you also have to pay a base fee for every luggage that you check in. Southwest and Jetblue don’t charge for one check in bag but most other airlines charge a fee of $25. If you plan on checking in 3 bags, you could end up paying an extra fee of $100 to $200 for the third bag.

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How You Can Reduce Paying Extra For Your Luggage

Hate paying extra at the airport each time you fly? Here are a few tips on how you can avoid those hefty fees:

Read the Airline Policy

By going through the website of your chosen airline carrier, you’ll understand how many bags are allowed per person as well as the extra amount you would have to pay in case the luggage is overweight. Baggage fees change all the time and vary depending on the destination, date of travel as well as bag weight and size.

Frequent Flyer Incentives

If you are a frequent traveler and even if you aren’t, signing up for frequent flyer miles may have many more incentives than you think. The incentives are many and quite a few airlines offer discounts in their frequent flyer programs. You could avail special discounts at hotels and even get a discount on overweight baggage fees.

Buy a Portable Luggage Scale

One of the best purchases you can ever make, a portable luggage scale is easy to carry and so small that it fits inside your carry-on luggage without taking up too much space. You’ll find that it’s easier to make better decisions with regard to baggage weight when you have a proven method to actually check the weight.

Buy Good Luggage

Gone are the days when bags used to be bulky and heavy, these days the focus is on creating good long-lasting luggage that doesn’t weigh much. When you purchase luggage made from a light-weight material like polycarbonate, you will find that you’ll be able to pack much more in your bags.

Ship Your Bags

If you really must take a lot of stuff with you and you know that you will have to fork out a hefty baggage fee, then shipping your luggage to the destination of choice is a lot more affordable. Courier companies like UPS and Fedex have attractive rates for overweight luggage which are worth checking out.

Being prepared beforehand is the best way to enjoy your trip without incurring extra expenses that can be avoided.

Hayden Wall

Hayden is the founder of Travel Gear Discounts and tries to vacation as much as possible. He loves finding the latest travel accessories that will make getting out easier and planning the perfect weekend getaway.