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Savvy Scuba Travelers (Part 2): The Ever Changing Airline Baggage Restrictions UPDATED

DiverWire.com senior contributing editor John Flanders did some research this week on scuba travel and related challenges. In the second of a three-part series, he looks at airline fees and restrictions, and their impact on divers.

As we learned last week, the TSA doesn’t care how much your luggage weighs or how much of it you carry. They do, however, care very much what is in it. Staying on top of those regulations is important; however it is the airlines that set the bottom line. In these tight economic times, the airlines are doing everything they can just to stay alive. Many of their tactics, come at the expense of traveling Scuba divers, just like you. Just last week, Continental airlines, joined several other airline companies, and announced they will be charging for meals.


Scuba diving is an equipment intensive sport. Divers accept the fact that, to reach their objectives, they need to own and travel with their equipment. That means coping with the airlines tight and expensive restrictions are a part of every trip and a necessary evil.

When booking your airline ticket, you need to do your due diligence and factor in baggage costs. Of course, if you travel first class, much of this is a non-issue. However, for us “Joe Divers”, we will be riding in the back of the plane and paying for our luggage. When researching your ticket, you need to know how many bags you will be bringing, per person, what the weight is of each bag, what the dimensions of each bag are, and what you will be carrying on the plane. An extra bag or two, that are oversized and overweight, may make a first class ticket look cheap. Our advice, be aware of the airlines fees prior to pushing the “book it now” button!

READ PART 1 OF THE SERIES

Following is a list, airline by airline, of fees for checked bags on major US airlines. These fees are for domestic economy class travel (which in some cases includes Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and Canada) only and may be higher or lower on international flights.

There are all kinds of exceptions to these fees, especially for certain classes of frequent flyers and military personnel. These fees are cumulative and are double for round-trip travel. They are subject to change and were accurate to the best of our knowledge as of March 1, 2010.

Airline: Airtran Airways

First Checked Bag: $15

Second Checked Bag: $25

Additional Bags: $50

Overweight Bags: 51-70lbs = $39 / 71 to 99 lbs = $79

Oversized Bags: 62-70 total linear inches = $39

71-80 total linear inches = $79

 

Airline: Alaska Airlines

First Checked Bag: $15

Second Checked Bag: $25

Additional Bags: 3rd through 6th bag = $100 / 7th or more = $150

Overweight Bags: 51-100lbs = $50

Oversized Bags: 63-80 total linear inches = $50 / 81-115 total linear inches = $75

 

Airline: American Airlines

First Checked Bag: $25

Second Checked Bag: $35

Additional Bags: 3rd through 5th bag = $100 / 6th or more = $200

Overweight Bags: 51-70lbs = $50 / 71-100lbs = $100

Oversized Bags: 63 inches and over = $150

 

Airline: Continental Airlines

First Checked Bag: $25 (discount for paying online)

Second Checked Bag: $35 (discount for paying online)

Additional Bags: $75 Non Stop / $100 Connections

Overweight Bags: 51-70lbs = $50 / over 70lbs = not accepted

Oversized Bags: 63 and over = $100

 

Airline: Delta Airlines and Northwest Airlines

First Checked Bag: $25 (discount for paying online)

Second Checked Bag: $35 (discount for paying online)

Additional Bags: 3rd bag = $125 / 4th through 10th bag = $200 each

Overweight Bags: 51-70lbs = $90 / 71-100lbs = $175

Oversized Bags: 63 to 80 total linear inches = $175

 

Airline: Frontier Airlines

First Checked Bag: $15

Second Checked Bag: $25

Additional Bags: $50

Overweight Bags: 51-100lbs = $75

Oversized Bags: 63 to 80 total linear inches = $75

 

Airline: JetBlue

First Checked Bag: $0

Second Checked Bag: $25

Additional Bags: $75

Overweight Bags: 51-70lbs = $50 / 71-100lbs = $100

Oversized Bags: 63 to 80 total linear inches = $75

 

Airline: Spirit Airlines

First Checked Bag: $25 (discount for paying online)

Second Checked Bag: $25

Additional Bags: Bags 3 through 5 = $100

Overweight Bags: 51-70lbs = $50 / 71-99lbs = $100

Oversized Bags: 62-79 total linear inches = $100/80 inches and over = $150

 

Airline: Southwest Airlines

First Checked Bag: $0

Second Checked Bag: $0

Additional Bags: 3rd through 9th bag = $50 / 10th and more = $110

Overweight Bags: 51-100lbs = $50

Oversized Bags: 62 to 80 total linear inches = $50

 

Airline: United Airlines

First Checked Bag: $25 (discount for paying online)

Second Checked Bag: $35 (discount for paying online)

Additional Bags: Bags 1 through 4 = $125 / 5th or more = $250

Overweight Bags: $100 (it wasn’t specific, but 50lbs is the anticipated limit)

Oversized Bags: 63 to 115 total linear inches = $125

 

Airline: US Airways

First Checked Bag: $25 (discount for paying online)

Second Checked Bag: $35 (discount for paying online)

Additional Bags: Bags 3 through 9 = $100

Overweight Bags: 51-70lbs = $70 / 71-99lbs = $120

Oversized Bags: 62 to 80 total linear inches = $100

 

Airline: Virgin America

First Checked Bag: $25 (up to 70lbs)

Second Checked Bag: $25 (up to 50lbs)

Additional Bags: Bags 3 through 10 = $25

Overweight Bags: 51-70lbs = $50 / 71-100lbs = $100

Oversized Bags: 63 to 80 total linear inches = $50

The average Scuba diver checks two bags weighing a total of $100. With the exception of Southwest Airlines, this would equate to “extra baggage fees” when traveling on most airlines. After reviewing this chart and figuring you are “just an average diver”, then you should figure $50 to $100 additional for each passenger. If you are traveling with a rebreather, high end video and photography equipment, or Scuba tanks, extra baggage fees could run you more than the ticket itself.

The Savvy Dive Traveler plans for these expenses and isn’t surprised at the airport.

Dive and travel safe!

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