Southwest pledges no checked bag fees policy will stay

Incoming CEO Bob Jordan will continue Gary Kelly's 'Bags Fly Free!' policy

Southwest Airlines will not charge for checked bags for the foreseeable future, according to outgoing CEO Gary Kelly and his successor, Bob Jordan.

"I will say emphatically that we will not charge for bags,'' Jordan said in an interview with USA Today. "And there will be no [ticket] change fees.''

Kelly, a 35-year Southwest veteran who will pass the reins as CEO to Jordan in February 2022, echoed the comments.

"That's one of the beauties of this: Bob and I are very well aligned with our values, with our love for the company, with our embrace of the Southwest culture and certainly our attitudes toward customer service,'' Kelly told the publication.

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Kelly, the chief executive since 2004, will become the company's executive chairman and serve in the role through 2026 "at the discretion of the Board of Directors." Jordan currently serves as Southwest's executive vice president of corporate services and has been with the company since 1988.

Kelly has long defended his "Bags Fly Free!" policy, which allows for passengers to check two bags up to 50 pounds and 62 inches without fees, including skis, golf bags and surfboards in Hawaii. 

Bags that are overweight – items from 51 to 100 pounds, in excess of 62 inches but not more than 80 inches – are accepted for a charge of $75 per item one-way.

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Only one $75 charge applies if the piece is both oversized and overweight, regardless of the weight as long as it does not exceed 100 pounds.  

"While bag fees have become the norm amongst our competitors, we've stayed true to our reputation as the maverick of the airline industry by not charging for your first two checked bags (weight and size limits apply)," Southwest says on its website.

Excess baggage is accepted for a charge of $75 per item one-way, and overweight excess baggage is charged that amount plus "the applicable oversize or overweight charge."

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Any item that weighs more than 100 pounds is required to be shipped as air cargo.

Military passengers traveling on active duty or permanent change-of-station orders are exempt from both the baggage limit and any excess, oversize or overweight charges provided none of the baggage exceeds 100 pounds and 80 inches.