Know before you go.
Now that Alaska Airlines is absorbing Virgin America, more West Coast travelers will be flying with the Seattle-based carrier — and be stuck with the airline’s notorious $25 checked bag fee.
Unlike many other airlines, Alaska’s baggage fees are fixed — meaning they don’t fluctuate depending on when you make the baggage reservation. In other words, you can pay for your luggage while you’re booking your airfare, or wait until you get to the airport check-in counter. Either way, the price will not go up.
For travelers frustrated by the $25 charge, it's not all bad news. In 2010, the Seattle-based carrier made a lot of customers happy with its “20-minute Baggage Guarantee.” Here’s the pledge: for every incoming domestic flight on Alaska Airlines, all bags will be delivered to the baggage carousel within twenty minutes of arriving at the gate. Otherwise, you get a $25 voucher for your next Alaska Airlines flight.
What’s the deal?
Alaska Airlines currently charges $25 for both your first as well as your second piece of checked luggage. That cost leaps to $75 for the third, and each additional bag. Any overweight (heavier than 50 pounds) or oversized bag will incur a $75 fee. Light packers are in the clear, however. Every passenger is allowed one carry-on item and one personal item (such as a purse, small backpack, or briefcase)
What’s the catch?
Alaska has one rather unique exception to its baggage policy: Hawaiian pineapples. Per the airline’s website, any passenger flying out of Honolulu, Kona, Maui, or Kauai to somewhere in the continental United States or Alaska is entitled to one free checked item.
As long as it’s a box containing pineapples. Seriously.
Traveling with more than two checked bags? You’ll want to check Alaska’s website first, as certain flight routes (Dillingham, Guadalajara, Havana, King Salmon, and a few others) during peak season impose a two-bag limit. This probably won’t affect you (two checked bags is plenty for most folks) but better safe than sorry.
There are other exceptions, too. If you’re traveling solely within the state of Alaska, you can check up to three bags completely free of charge. Fees are also waived for First Class passengers (two free checked bags) and U.S. military personnel (five free checked bags).
And if you subscribe to one of the airline’s loyalty programs? You’re likely eligible for up to two free checked bags.