Alaska Airlines baggage policies and fees: Here’s how to save

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When you’re flying Alaska Airlines and have baggage to check, know in advance how much you’ll have to pay — it’s not quite as simple as you think.

Like many other airline baggage fee policies, the bag limits and amount you pay (or don’t pay) can vary depending on your destination.  Alaska Airlines also has seasonal baggage limits to and from certain cities.

There are several ways to get your baggage fees waived, such as being an Alaska Airlines Visa Signature cardholder. The airline also checks some items for free, including wine, when you’re traveling from many airports in the U.S. (30 at the time of writing).

I’ll tell you more about Alaska Airlines’ checked baggage policies, and show you how much you can expect to pay for your next trip.

Alaska baggage policies

Alaska baggage policies (carry-on bags)

Like most other airlines, Alaska Airlines allows one personal item and a carry-on bag. But in June 2018, the airline updated their carry-on bag policy and decreased the bag size to increase space in the overheads for passengers. 

Your carry-on bag must fit within the maximum dimensions of 22 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches. When added together, the bag cannot exceed 45 inches. Alaska recommends measuring your carry-on bag after packing if the bag is expandable or soft-sided like a duffle bag. 

Though Alaska doesn’t specify the dimensions of your personal item, it must be small enough to fit under the seat in front of you. Think purse, briefcase, or laptop bag size. 

Some exceptions apply to the carry-on policy. For example, fishing poles and small musical instruments may count as your carry-on, as long as they are able to be secured in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you. Coats, pillows, strollers, and medical assistive devices do not count toward your carry-on limit. 

If you happen to be flying from the Cold Bay (CDB) airport, carry-ons are not accepted and are instead checked for free.

Alaska baggage policies (checked bags)

Checked bag dimensions cannot exceed 62 inches after you add the length, width, and height of the bag. Bags must also weigh 50 pounds or less.

Alaska Airlines also has strict seasonal baggage limits to and from certain cities during peak travel periods. Here’s a chart with the airports and travel dates where you can’t have more than one or two checked bags per person.

AirportTravel DatesBag Limit per person
Barrow, AlaskaJanuary 1 to December 312 bags
Bethel, AlaskaJanuary 1 to December 312 bags
Billings, MontanaNovember 15 to March 11 bag
Bozeman, MontanaNovember 15 to March 11 bag
Cold Bay, AlaskaJune 1 to August 312 bags
Dillingham, AlaskaJune 1 to August 312 bags
Guadalajara, MexicoNovember 15 to January 152 bags
Kalispell, MontanaNovember 15 to March 11 bag
King Salmon, AlaskaJune 1 to August 312 bags
Kodiak, AlaskaJune 1 to August 312 bags
Kotzebue, AlaskaJanuary 1 to December 312 bags
Nome, AlaskaJanuary 1 to December 312 bags
Sun Valley, IdahoNovember 15 to March 11 bag

Note that some of the airports with season limits don’t allow oversize or overweight bags. This means your checked bag must weigh less than 50 pounds and meet the size requirements.

Alaska baggage policies (checked baggage fees)

The standard bag fees for Alaska Airlines paid and award flights are:

  • $30 for the 1st bag
  • $40 for the 2nd bag
  • $100 each for any additional bags

If you plan to check more than two bags, be sure to check the above chart to see if you’re flying out of a select airport during peak travel season.

Alaska Airlines excludes the following items from the standard baggage fees:

  • Strollers and car seats when traveling with infants or children
  • One box of pineapple from Hawaii when traveling within the U.S. from:
    • Honolulu
    • Kona
    • Maui
    • Kauai
  • Mobility aids and medical devices
  • 1 case of wine when traveling within the US from these airports: 
    • Bellingham, Washington
    • Boise, Idaho
    • Burbank, California
    • Eugene, Oregon
    • Fresno, California
    • Los Angeles, California
    • Medford, Oregon
    • Monterey, California
    • Oakland, California
    • Ontario, California
    • Orange County, California
    • Palm Springs, California
    • Pasco, Washington
    • Portland, Oregon
    • Pullman, Washington
    • Redmond, Oregon
    • Sacrament, California
    • San Diego, California
    • San Francisco, California
    • San Jose, California
    • San Luis Obispo, California
    • Santa Barbara, California
    • Seattle, Washington
    • Sonoma, California
    • Spokane, Washington
    • Sun Valley, Idaho
    • Walla Walla, Washington
    • Wenatchee, Washington
    • Yakima, Washington
    • Santa Rosa, California
    • You must have an Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan frequent flyer account (free to sign-up) to check wine for free.

      Alaska asks that you check in your bag 40 minutes before departure for domestic flights and 60 minutes for international flights. To save time, you can print your bag tags at home and simply drop them off at the designated baggage drop areas. Some airports require extra time for baggage drop so it’s best to drop your bag off one hour before your flight.

      Alaska Airlines also promises to get your checked bags out to the baggage claim within 20 minutes of gate arrival or else you’ll receive a $25 discount code for a future flight or 2,500 Mileage Plan bonus miles. If this scenario occurs, you’ll need to see the agent at the baggage claim office within two hours to claim your prize.

      Alaska baggage policies (excess baggage fees)

      If your checked bag exceeds the size or weight requirements, you’ll pay a $100 fee for either one. If your bag is both overweight and oversized, you’ll be charged only a single fee.  And if your bag weighs 100+ pounds or is more than 115 inches combined, it simply does not qualify as checked baggage. It’s possible it can travel as cargo, but you’ll need to contact the airline for assistance at 1-800-225-2752.

      Some exceptions to Alaska’s excess baggage fees include sporting equipment, musical instruments, and perishable items like big game trophies.

      How to avoid Alaska Airlines baggage fees

      There are lots of ways to avoid paying baggage fees on Alaska Airlines flights! Here’s a handy chart showing who gets free bags.


      Bag 1Bag 23 or More BagsNote
      Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card cardholders$0$40$100 per bagComplimentary 1st bag for 6 companions on the same reservation
      Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card cardholders$0$40$100 per bagComplimentary 1st bag for 6 companions on the same reservation
      First Class passengers$0$0$100 per bagYou must be upgraded before checking your bag
      Alaska Airlines elite status passengers and traveling companions on the same reservation$0$0$100 per bag
      Club 49 members (free to sign-up for Alaska residents)$0$0$100 per bagFlight must be to or from city in Alaska
      Passengers traveling exclusively within Alaska$0$0$0$100 per bag after the 3rd bag
      Active duty US military and dependents with travel orders$0$0$0First 5 bags are free and additional bags are $100 each

      Don’t forget, you can use your status with another airline to get elite status with Alaska Airlines.

      If you don’t qualify to have your baggage fees waived, consider paying the fee with a credit card that covers airline incidentals and fees (like food, in-flight Wi-Fi, and baggage fees), such as:

      • The Platinum Card® from American Express – Annual up to $200 airline credit on the airline of your choice (can be used for airline incidentals, like baggage fees)
      • Chase Sapphire Reserve® – Annual up to $300 travel credit (can be used for ANY travel expense, including baggage fees)
      • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express — Up to $200 annually in statement credits for airline incidentals with your selected airline (luggage fees, in-flight food and drink, etc.)

      Bottom line

      The standard Alaska Airlines baggage fees are:

      • $30 for the first bag
      • $40 for the second bag
      • $100 for the third bag and beyond

      Alaska Airlines allows you to check some items for free, such as pineapple from Hawaii or a case of wine. But you must be traveling to and from certain airports.

      You can avoid paying baggage fees if you have the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature personal or small business card. Cardholders get a free 1st checked bag for themselves and six companions on the same reservation. First class passengers and folks with Alaska Airlines elite status also get free checked bags.

      Which method do you use to get free checked bags on Alaska Airlines flights? 

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