Airlines May Crack Down on Heavy Carryon Baggage

Recent news reports suggest airlines are cracking down on the weight of carryon bags during the upcoming holiday travel period, and many flyers are being caught unaware.

While most passengers are familiar with the concept of paying a fee for a first and second checked-bag (except on JetBlue and Southwest, which offer free checked bags), some airlines may charge for excessively heavy carryons or check these weighty totes whether you want them to or not.

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Airlines with Carryon Bag Weight Limits

Most airlines do list specific size limitations on carryons, which is typically about 44 inches total (determined by height plus length plus width), but only a few mention weight limits, as follows:

  • Frontier carryon bags: 35 pounds
  • Hawaiian carryon bags: 25 pounds
  • US Airways carryon bags: 40 pounds

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What Happens to Overweight Carryon Bags

Hawaiian Airlines will charge a fee of $25 for overweight carryons – no fee is specified by Frontier or US Airways but the implication is clear that a too heavy carryon will be removed from the cabin and checked (and the passenger may or may not have to pay the checked-bag fee).

Passengers are advised to remove valuables and must-haves, such as medication, before the bag leaves the cabin.

Spirit’s Carryon Bag Fee

Spirit Airlines remains the lone U.S. carrier to charge for a carryon, which ranges from $20 to $40 depending on whether you pay online, at the airport or at the boarding gate. In some cases, it is actually cheaper to check a bag than bring a carryon aboard a Spirit flight.

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Frontier offers some good advice on its website: “Don’t get carried away with your carry-on baggage. You’ll be sharing the plane with others. Now get out your measuring tape and scale.”


Published: December 27, 2011