Delta Airlines baggage policies and fees: What you need to know

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Do you, like many folks, find Delta’s checked baggage fees confusing?

There are a lot of rules and variables that can make the amount you pay for checking a bag very different!  Things like elite status and destination can be the deciding factor for if you’ll pay $0 or $200!

For example, bringing two checked bags to South Africa will cost you nothing each way.  But bringing two checked bags to Europe will cost you $100 each way!  It pays to know the rules, so you can budget accordingly! Even simply holding one of the best Delta credit cards can save you hundreds per year.

I’ll explain the Delta checked baggage policies and help you quickly figure out what you can expect to pay for your next trip!

(Photo by NextNewMedia/Shutterstock)

Delta baggage policies

Delta baggage policies (carry-on bags)

On Delta, every passenger (including those who purchased a Basic Economy ticket) can bring one personal item (purse, laptop bag, shopping bag, etc.), and one carry-on item (no larger than 22 by 14 by 9 inches or 45 inches total) for free.

Either your personal item or your carry-on item should be small enough to fit under the seat in front of you. Items such as strollers or medical assistive devices do not count towards your carry-on allowance. There is no weight limit for carry-ons unless your flight takes you to Singapore, Beijing or Shanghai. 

But things get more complicated when it comes to checked baggage!

Delta baggage policies (checked bags)

Checked bag dimensions can NOT exceed 62 inches after you add the length, width, and height of the bag. 

The maximum weight limit is 50 pounds per checked bag if you’re traveling on a basic economy or main cabin ticket. First class and Delta One tickets allow a 70-pound weight limit. 

Delta guarantees your checked bags reach the baggage claim within 20 minutes of arrival at the gate or you can claim 2,500 bonus SkyMiles. You’ll need to complete an online form within three days of your flight. 

Delta baggage policies (checked baggage fees)

Whether you use miles or cash to book a flight, you’ll still pay for checked baggage.

Beyond the 62 inch maximum dimension, Delta will charge you a different amount for checked bags depending on your destination.  Here’s what you should expect to pay for checking bags with Delta when traveling from the U.S.

ZoneBag 1Bag 2Bag 3Bag 4+Maximum Number of Bags
Domestic flights within US and Canada$30$40$150$20010
El Salvador$0$40$200$20010
South America$0$0$200$20010
Europe and parts of North Africa$0$100$285$28510
Most of Africa$0$0$285$28510
Most of the Middle East$0$0$200$20010

Delta’s prices have changed a bit throughout the years, but the above chart bespeaks each region. You can quickly see exactly how much your baggage will cost on your desired route by using Delta’s baggage policy calculator here.

You can see the full list of Delta’s baggage regions here. And check out the official baggage rules if you’re still not sure.

If you’re traveling in First Class or Delta One, you should receive at least two free 70-pound checked bags everywhere. Again, there are a few exceptions to the rules, so be sure to use the above calculator.

Delta baggage policies (excess baggage fees)

The maximum weight for a checked bag without penalty is 50 pounds.

If you’re traveling within the U.S. or to Canada, the following rules apply:

  • If your bag is between 51 and 70 pounds, you’ll have to pay a $100 fee each way
  • If your bag is between 71 and 100 pounds, you’ll pay $200 each way. Bags of 100 pounds or more are not accepted
  • If your bag is between 62 and 80 inches, you’ll pay a $200 fee each way. Anything larger is not accepted

 If you’re traveling to Europe or North Africa:

  • If your bag is between 51 and 70 pounds, you’ll have to pay a $100 fee each way
  • No heavier bags are permitted

If you’re traveling to Honduras or El Salvador:

  • If your bag is between 51 and 70 pounds, you’ll have to pay a $150 fee each way

Everywhere else:

  • If your bag is between 51 and 70 pounds, you’ll have to pay a $100 fee each way
  • If your bag is between 71 and 100 pounds, you’ll pay $200 each way. Bags of 100 pounds or more are not accepted

How to avoid Delta baggage fees

Depending on your situation, Delta will waive baggage fees for you!  You’ll pay less if you fall under any of these categories.

Delta elite status

With Delta elite status, you can minimize and even eliminate baggage fees, depending on your elite tier, your route, and the number of bags you’ve got.

Credit cards

If you have any of the following Amex Delta co-branded credit cards, you and up to eight other travelers on your reservation will receive one free checked bag up to 50 pounds:

  • Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

This is much better than similar American Airlines co-branded credit cards, which only give you and four travel companions a free checked bag on domestic routes. Unfortunately, you cannot use this perk for bags that are overweight or oversize.

Several other credit cards cover airline incidentals and fees (like food, in-flight Wi-Fi, and baggage fees), that you can use towards Delta baggage fees. For example:

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express – Annual up to $200 airline credit on the airline of your choice (can be used for airline incidentals, like baggage fees)
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® – Annual up to $300 travel credit (can be used for pretty much any travel expense, including baggage fees)

Active-duty military

If you’re an active-duty military member, you will receive free bags for both personal and business-related flights!

Traveling on Military Orders

  • Basic Economy, coach, and Delta Comfort, first class, Delta Premium Select, Delta One – 5 free checked bags (100 pounds)

Personal Travel

  • Basic Economy, coach, and Delta Comfort – 2 free checked bags (50 pounds)
  • First Class, Delta Premium Select, Delta One – 3 free checked bags (70 pounds)

Bottom line

Delta baggage fees can be a little complicated.  I’ve included a few simple charts to help you figure out what you’ll pay for checked bags – but be sure to use the Delta baggage fee calculator on your particular route just to be sure.

Note that you may get a free checked bag if you have certain travel credit cards, or if you’re flying in business or first class, even if you booked the ticket with miles and points! Know the rules so you can learn how to avoid these fees, and spend your money on the vacation instead of the commute.

Sarah Hostetler is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets. She covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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