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How to get free checked bags on Alaska Airlines

Check up to two bags free with Mileage Plan elite status.

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Fact checked

If you don’t travel light, you could pay a hefty premium on your original fare as checked baggage fees add up fast. This guide will show you how you can use credit cards, elite status and fare upgrades to avoid those fees.

How do I get a free checked bag on Alaska Airlines?

Free checked baggage on Alaska Airlines can save you $60 to $140 per person on a round-trip flight. If you have the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card or its business version, you and up to six guests get one checked bag free on Alaska flights. Check two bags free when you fly First Class or if you’re a Mileage Plan elite. Each bag can weigh up to 50 pounds and have overall dimensions of 62 inches.

The carrier also includes other unique ways to get around the checked-baggage fee, including joining the Alaska-exclusive Club 49 and traveling between Alaskan destinations.

Here are more details about getting free checked bags on Alaska flights:

  • Get an Alaska Airlines credit card.
    There are two card options. Each waives the fee for one checked bag per Alaska Airlines flight.
  • Fly First Class.
    Flying this fare class lets you check two bags for free. You’ll also get access to expedited check-in, priority boarding and express security screening at some airports.
  • Get a credit card with travel credits.
    You can pay for Alaska baggage fees and get reimbursed via statement credits. This option might be ideal if you fly only once in a while, or if you want to check two or more bags per flight.
  • Earn elite status.
    Alaska’s Mileage Plan has three elite tiers, all of which offer two free checked bags on each Alaska Airlines flight.
  • Be a Club 49 member.
    If you’ve joined Club 49 — accessible only to residents of Alaska — you can check your first two bags free when traveling on an itinerary that has at least one Alaska-based Alaska Airlines city.
  • Travel to destinations within Alaska.
    If your itinerary includes only Alaskan destinations, you can check your first three bags free.
  • As active military personnel.
    If you’re actively serving in the US military, you and your dependents can each check five bags free. Each bag can have overall dimensions of 115 inches and weigh up to 70 pounds.

Pro tip: You can upgrade your paid fare to First Class for 15,000 miles one-way. You can also pay for an upgrade with dollars, for as little as $29 for a one-way trip within 450 miles in distance. This could be very cost-effective, especially if you’re planning on paying for checked baggage anyway.

One-way First Class upgrade prices

One-way trip in miles Price
0-450 $29
451-700 $49
701-1,400 $99
1,401-2,100 $149
2,101 and above $199

According to the Alaska Airlines website as of April 2019. Values are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.

Guide to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

How to earn elite status in Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Reach elite status one of three ways by earning enough eligible miles or segments:

  • Earn miles on Alaska Airlines flights only.
  • Earn miles on flights with Alaska Airlines and elite-qualifying partners.
  • Fly segments on Alaska Airlines and elite-qualifying partners.
MVP MVP Gold MVP Gold 75K
Eligible miles on Alaska 20,000 40,000 75,000
Eligible miles on Alaska + elite-qualifying partners 25,000 50,000 90,000
Segments flown on Alaska + elite-qualifying partners 30 60 90

How much does it usually cost to check a bag on Alaska Airlines?

These rates apply to bags that weigh up to 50 pounds and have maximum linear dimensions of 62 inches. You’ll pay extra if your bags are oversized or overweight.

First bag Second bag Each additional bag
$30 $40 $100

According to the Alaska Airlines website as of April 2019. Values are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.

How to get a free checked bag with an Alaska Airlines credit card

You can avoid checked baggage fees with the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card or the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card.

You and up to six companions on the same reservation can each check one bag for free per flight. You must be enrolled in Alaska’s Mileage Plan program to qualify, but you don’t have to pay for your flight with the card.

Consider applying for the card well in advance of your flight. You’re eligible for the checked baggage benefit about two to three weeks after opening your card account.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® card benefits

  • Annual fee: $75.
  • Signup bonus.40,000 bonus miles and Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare after you make $2,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Rewards.
    Earn 3x miles on Alaska Airlines purchases. Earn 1x miles on all other purchases.
  • Annual companion fare.
    Each year after your account anniversary, get an Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare code in your Mileage Plan account.
  • Checked baggage benefit.
    You and up to six companions on the same reservation can each check one bag free per Alaska Airlines flight.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
    You won’t pay any additional fees when you make purchases abroad or through foreign websites.

What is Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare?

Book an Alaska Airlines flight in economy — round-trip or one-way. During the same booking, add a guest onto your itinerary.

Your guest will fly for a $99 base fare plus taxes and fees, which start at $22. This could total as low as $121.

Compare Alaska Airlines credit cards

There are two cobranded Alaska Airlines credit cards that offer free checked baggage.

Meanwhile, several other cards offer general travel credits, which you can use to offset baggage fees. You’ll pay annual fees for most of these cards. If you want to pay no annual fee, consider the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card.

Consider a card from another airline

United℠ Explorer Card

  • $0 first-year intro annual fee, then $95.
  • Signup bonus: 60,000 miles after you make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Plus an additional 10,000 points after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months.
  • 2x miles on United purchases, hotel stays and restaurant purchases.
  • Credit every four years for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee.
  • 25% back as statement credit on United inflight purchases. Plus, priority boarding and your first checked bag free on United-operated flights.
  • 2 United Club one-time passes each card anniversary.
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Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card
40,000 miles and companion pass after spending $2,000 in the first 90 days
3x miles on Alaska Airlines purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases
$75
40,000 bonus miles after you make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.
Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card
40,000 miles plus companion fare from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) after spending $2,000 in the first 90 days
3x miles on direct Alaska Airlines purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases
$50
Earn 40,000 miles plus companion fare from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) after spending $2,000 in the first 90 days of your account opening.
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Bottom line

There are a few ways to avoid baggage fees on Alaska Airlines. The quickest option is upgrading your Alaska Airlines flight to First Class.

If you’re not sure an Alaska Airlines credit card is right for you, consider an airline credit card with travel credits.

Frequently asked questions

  • How much will I pay for an oversized or overweight bag?
    For bags that weigh 51 to 100 pounds, you’ll pay $100 each. For bags with linear dimensions of 63 to 115 pounds, you’ll pay $100 each.
  • What if my bag weighs more than 100 pounds?
    The bag won’t be permitted on an Alaska Airlines flight. It also won’t be permitted if it exceeds 115 inches in linear dimensions.

    However, you may be able to transport it through Alaska Air Cargo, which you can call at 800-225-2752.

  • How do travel credits work?
    Pay for an eligible purchase with your card. Later, you’ll see a credit on your statement for the purchase, provided you have sufficient travel credits.

Pictures: Getty Images

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