Be sure to check up on checked-bag fees

The pockets of holiday season travelers flying within the United States this year might get picked by the domestic airlines’ latest trend: charging for luggage.

All but two of nine major national airlines flying out of San Francisco International Airport charge up to $25 for the first bag fliers check, and in a couple of cases a third bag can cost as much as $100.

Southwest allows the first two bags for free, then charges $50 for the third. JetBlue checks the first one for free, then charges $30 for the second.

Furthermore, airlines sometimes charge per pound for bags that outweigh 50 pounds.

“The rule of thumb, I say, is about 20 kilos [about 44 pounds],” said travel agent Glenn Talken from AirTreks, which specializes in international trips. “And the cheaper the airline, the more likely it is they’re going to charge to check the bags.’’

Most airlines offer to waive the baggage fee if the traveler buys an upgrade, and two of them — Delta and Continental — knock off $2 for checking in online.

Talken also said he refers all his clients to the website www.luggage, which allows them to enter an airline and then spells out the rules for them accordingly.

And do not try to sneak on with two carry-ons. Most of the airlines now only allow one plus a personal handbag.

Despite the increasing fees, SFO spokesman Mike McCarron said traveler numbers this year have increased by 4 to 5 percent.

Sky-high for the holidays

Travelers need to include the cost of getting to the airport, parking at SFO and checking baggage in their holiday budgets.

Parking: $14 per day

  • Can use FasTrak


  • First bag: $25
  • Second bag: $35
  • Carry-on: 1


  • First two bags: Free
  • Bags three-nine: $50
  • Carry-on: 1
  • Virgin America:

  • Bag one through 10: $25
  • Carry-on: 1
  • Delta:

  • First bag: $23 online, $25 in person
  • Second bag: $32 online, $35 in person
  • Carry-on: 1
  • JetBlue:

  • First bag: free
  • Second bag: $30
  • Third bag: $75
  • Carry-on: 1
  • Alaska:

  • First through third bag: $20
  • Four and up: $50
  • Carry-on: 1
  • Continental:

  • First bag: $23 online, $25 in person
  • Second bag: $32 online, $35 in person
  • Carry-on: 1
  • US Airways:

  • First bag: $25
  • Second bag: $35
  • Third-plus: $100
  • Carry on: 1
  • American Airlines:

  • First bag: $25
  • Second bag: $25
  • Third-plus: $100
  • Sixth-plus: $150
  • Carry-on: 1
  • Source: Airlines, SFO

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