Updated Checked Bag Fees on Airlines to Hawaii

Checked Bag Fees On Hawaii Flights To Rise

Ancillary airline fees are in a seemingly endless spiral up. We find them annoying and, even when we can afford to pay them, we just don’t like to. Since we last updated checked bag fees on Hawaii Flights only 9 months ago, you won’t be surprised to learn that they have started to increase again.

2020 increases, with a twist, are in process.

This started last month when non-Hawaii airline Jet Blue began the latest round of increases. That was followed last week by United Airlines, including on Hawaii flights, as shown below. That will undoubtedly be followed by the other airlines as well.

The twist this year, is that bag fees will in part be based on when you pay. In order to avoid the new increase, passengers on United need to  prepay for checked bags. So long as you pay before checking in online, the prior bag fees of $30 and $40 will, at least at this time, still be in effect.

Part of the game here is also to drive loyalty credit cards with annual fees, in order to help you avoid checked bag fees on flights to Hawaii.

What have you been doing about bag fees, if anything?

We continue to rethink packing when traveling to and from Hawaii, and at least in part that is to help reduce bag fees. For one thing, last year we bought new carry-on’s that really help and have avoided problems (see tips and tricks below).

Since last we checked, these fees became standard across all airlines, with the lone exception of Southwest Hawaii flights. It seems hard to avoid them when coming to Hawaii given the average stay duration and distance. All airline fees have been on the increase since their introduction ten years ago, and last year, it was estimated that they amounted to $5 billion in the US alone. Read on for our updated checked bag fees by airlines for flights to Hawaii.

1. Checked bags fees Hawaii Flights (effective 2/2020):

With the exception of Southwest, checked bag fees increased 20% in 2019 and are starting the processing of going up another 17% this year.

United Airlines: $35 $30 first bag, $45 $40 second bag. Change takes effect for travel beginning March 6, 2020.

Here are where the other airlines stand. We expect to see all airlines (except Southwest) increase checked bag fees soon.

Alaska Airlines: $30 first bag, $40 second bag. No increase yet.

American Airlines: $30 first bag, $40 second bag. No increase yet.

Delta Airlines: $30 first bag, $40 second bag. No increase yet.

Hawaiian Airlines: $30 first bag, $40 second bag. No increase yet.

Southwest Airlines No charge for first two checked bags. (Best checked bag deal).

2. How much airlines that fly to Hawaii made on bag fees in 2019.

These amounts are based on the latest report from the US government’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Alaska Airlines: $250 Million.

American Airlines: $1 Billion. Side note: American made the most money yet lost or mishandled 1 million bags last year.

Delta Airlines: $783 Million.

Hawaiian Airlines: $65 Million.

Southwest Airlines $39 Million.

United Airlines: $772 Million.

3. Tips and Tricks for Carry-on and Checked bags.

Use a larger carry-on that still fits in airline overheads (22 x 14 x 9).  Warning: be sure to check the actual dimensions (rather than the quoted dimensions) when purchasing luggage. Most luggage companies measure without including the wheel protrusion. The airlines, on the other hand, measure total exterior dimensions including wheels. Frequently, a 22″ carry-on actually has a dimension of over 23″.

Consider newer carry-on’s that weigh about half what they did even a few years ago. We replaced 10 lb bags with 6 lb bags. On Hawaiian Airlines for example, our new full-size 22″ (measured) carry-on fits directly into the overhead both inter-island and trans-Pacific. Check what size will fit on the airline and plane type that you’ll be flying.

You won’t need as much clothing as you think in Hawaii.  One sweater or sweatshirt, long pants and athletic shoes worn on the plane are generally adequate for staying warm during all seasons in Hawaii. A shell (no liner) for rain also helps year round. The remaining clothes can be lightweight, mostly shorts, shirts and sandals. Dressing beyond “resort casual” is less common in Hawaii.

Do plan some for some laundry while you’re here. Many if not most Hawaii accommodations have laundry facilities on location or nearby. The exception is generally the better hotels; although even many highly rated hotels have added a guest laundry. Without laundry facilities, quick washing can be done in a sink (consider packing a 1-2 ounce container of liquid dish washing soap), and a drying line in the bathroom is either provided or can be improvised. Have you tried the incredible travel clothes we fancy from Ex Officio? They wash in the sink, dry in a few hours and always look sharp.

Use the hotel beach towels.  Bringing your own takes up valuable luggage space. Use the hotel towels and drop them off on your day of departure en route to the airport. Or, consider a fast-dry travel towel. We find those very handy after checking out, and then heading to the beach before the airport.

White clothes stay home. They don’t mix very well with either the unavoidable red dirt here in Hawaii or other stains. That is especially true for shoe soles.

Keep track of the weight of your carry-on (and your checked luggage). Airlines are beginning to enforce carry-on weight limits, so be prepared in case they do. We just saw that when flying interisland on Mokulele Airlines. A portable luggage scale is essential, and just keeps on working trip after trip.

Join the airline’s loyalty program. For example, Hawaiian Air’s frequent flyer membership will get you a $10 savings on the first checked bag and $15 saving on the second on interisland flights. We suggest signing up for membership prior to purchasing Hawaiian Airlines tickets.

Check airline credit card programs. Many of these offer free checked bags, upgrades, other perks worth investigating.

Updated 2/24/20.

Beat of Hawaii photo at Waikiki.

53 thoughts on “Checked Bag Fees On Hawaii Flights To Rise”

  1. Aloha all – I refuse to give in to them! Won’t accept the credit card offer (unless it has no fee), and won’t pay to check a bag. I bought a set of these and I’ll be…they work (I used 3)! Doesn’t change the weight but certainly condensed my packing! I also traded my soft sided carryon to a 6 pound hard shell – I find I’m less generous with my packing because there’s no wiggle room! My friend used her soft sided on our recent trip to Kauai & HA nailed her for being well over weight (her bag looked stuffed!) – meanwhile I just rolled on by. On the way home we flew Southwest to give them a try…I really wish they had USB adapters! Otherwise they were great. They even had snack packs for us! They have free tv and movies using your own devices. https://amzn.to/2SWaUJU

  2. Ken & I have been going to Kauai for many years and from golf addiction he is now fishing addicted! From an over sized golf bag ( literally stuffed with other items) to a carry on fishing pole (in 2 pieces). Always take less – we create a list to pack and revise it every time we get back, editing many items we didn’t need. I always take a pair of decent but worn hiking shoes and toss them after they are covered in lovely red dirt.
    We joined the Alaska Air plan- they have the best companion fare and free checked bag for each of us. It takes a lot of work to figure out all the ‘deals’ – thanks for all the great info everyone! Keep up the good work! We Love Kauai! 2 months is not enough…

  3. Hawaii is very casual today, my wife and I gave been going for 30 years. Airline fees and hotel/resort fees have gotten crazy.
    We usually stay 4 weeks anymore. We each travel with only 1 carry on bag. We pack clothes for 4 days and wash. We take one nice set the rest shorts & shirts. Sunscreen you can buy in island.
    It’s worth getting a Costco membership even though we’re almost 200 miles away at home. In Hawaii we recover that fee many times over each trip. Looking today on Gas Buddy, you save 20 to 60 cents per gallon depending on the island. Large pizza $10, pepsi and Hot dog $1.59.
    Their are lots of good local places to eat that cost like home.

  4. Hi, we just returned from Kauai and had a wonderful time. I read everything you post and have learned a lot about flying to HI. Next trip is to Oahu where we have visited before and enjoy all the different things that happen there. I purchased an under the seat bag however it did not fit under the seat. Maybe it was the equipment used for that trip. Looking forward to your next posting.

    1. Hi Mcc.

      Always good to hear from you – even under your new pen name. 😉


  5. Would appreciate your opinion on a June 2019 trip to Maui. We will be flying from Portland, OR on 6/24/19 and come back on 7/1/19. There will be six of us. Current price on Hawaiian is $684.50. Do you think that price might come down as competition ramps up in early 2019? Thanks!

    1. Hi Frank.

      Yes it might come down, but probably not on the nonstop. The 1-stop, which is currently priced $200 less than nonstop, might drop even further.


  6. I’ve seen bagged wedding gowns hanging near the front of some of the airplanes I have travelled on (mainly United and American) so maybe a gown could travel that way. I also find it easy to pack all in a carry on; my main problem coming from Boston is that most of the year it’s freezing here so I need something to get to and from the airport, especially if I take public transportation!
    On a different topic, where was the photograph used for today’s post taken, and what islands does it show? Where I stay in east Maui I can glimpse the Big Island, which looks like Brigadoon through the mist : )

  7. Sorry to hear about the bag fee increases. We figure checked bag fees equal a nice meal out. So, we travel light. We have a couple of Rick Steves carry on backpacks and just recently purchased two Samsonite under seat bags – and YES – they do fit under the seat nicely. We have found as Jeff says – you really don’t need as much as you think.

    My son would disagree heartily! He needs to change clothes twice a day and takes a dozen pairs of shoes/thong sandals, ha ha! Maybe not fretting so much over what to wear is a bonus for growing older. Think?

    Thanks for all the tips. Always come away with something handy from the comments.


    1. In addition to my previous comments – since experiencing some back issues, I have gone to one ‘spinner’ hard sided carry on that my Samsonite under-seat back fits on nicely. Hubby takes a backpack carry on as well as a Samsonite under seat rolling bag. We get everything we need with room for a few trinkets on return trip into these bags.

      We make sure everything we take goes with something else. I take one pair of beach thong sandals and one nice pair for evening. If we need Tennis Shoes, we buy them at Costco. Under $20 a pair usually.

      ONE THING I will mention about our under seat bags (which we love, by the way) is that sometimes they won’t fit under the window seat on SWA. So, we try not to sit in a window seat. Same with Hawaiian, we choose a middle and an aisle if that is the config. If we do have to sit in one of the smaller seats – the seat isn’t smaller, just the underseat storage – then we just put one of the underseat bags in the overhead and stuff the soft sided backpack under the seat. We have pretty well stopped using our Rick Steves backpack carry ons. We would use them if we ever go to Europe.

      Heading back to Kauai and Maui later this year. :0) Thanks for all your updates!! Invaluable info.

      1. Hi Colleen.

        Thanks for all of your valuable input! Will be get to see you this visit?


        1. We sure hope to see you in late November. We will be in touch. See you soon! Staying in Kapaa area.

  8. Can you clarify whether the increased.fees. applies to flights BOOKED or FLOWN after November 13? I booked a ticket about 10 months ago and when I wanted to check-in today, it wanted to charge me the new fee ($30) per bag from the West Coast to Hawaii. That seems inconsistent with their policy.

  9. We were on the Big Island in April. We have Amazon Prime (like most of the world) and used Prime to send directly to the hotel. We added our confirmation number on the shipping info and everything was waiting for us when we arrived. Saved a checked bag!

    1. How does that work? Sounds great as I fly often to Oahu to my son’s winery. Thanks for your help! All mamas like to take things to the kid visits! Thanks – love to read “Beat of Hawaii!

  10. Really? People worry over $120 to $160 in baggage fees? When compared to the total cost of your trip to Hawaii, it is minimal at best. So if these fees are really a big financial issue for you, you might need to rethink spending the money on the trip in the first place. With that said, I truly believe the airlines should just increase the cost per seat and allow 2 bags per passenger for free.

    1. I agree with Timothy…if you’re worried about your nickels and dimes, Hawaii may not be your best option. On the same subject, Beat of Hawaii is constantly promoting airfare sales, most of which are very restrictive. Would you really plan a whole trip to Hawaii, or at least on specific dates, because you can save $50 on airfare?

    2. While the baggage fees might seem minimal, that money can be better used on other goods/experiences, and that’s why people try to avoid the fees. If money is not in an endless supply, it’s a matter of priorities, and I for one appreciate all the tips and tricks I can find. Thanks Beat of Hawaii!

      1. Hi Dee.

        Thank you! Sometimes it is better when we don’t say anything and let others comment. We seriously dislike ancillary airline fees. It isn’t even just the money – it’s the idea of the whole thing.


        1. I agree. Flying just FELT BETTER in the good old days when everything was included in the ticket price. Luggage, drinks, food and REAL dinnerware and cutlery. Nothing plastic. No glasses of ice with 2 oz of soda pop. They gave you the whole can. etc. etc. etc. I think those of us of a certain age remember those ‘good old days’ with fondness. OH, they even gave our kids little keepsakes – they give nothing away today except credit card applications. ha ha

          1. Hi Colleen.

            That is classic – all they give away is credit card applications.


    3. That is the most insane comment ever! Who wants to pay for baggage? That is the greediest thing by airlines ever. An extra $160 for bags, yes people would rather use that on a trip! SWA will kill them in this dept. And raise seat prices? Dude are you someone that loves paying extra money for know reason?

      1. We were soooo looking forward to our trip to Hawaii in 2019 with SWA. But, since the Max 8 debacle, we will be flying Hawaiian again and probably on future flights. The Max 8s will have to fly without incident for a very long time before any ‘low’ fares or free checked bags temp us to fly. Very Sad. We even worked extra hard to get the companion pass this year only to have to scrub our flight to Hawaii on SWA due to fear. Maybe we are overreacting, but it is what it is. Fear is just that – fear.

    4. That’s a silly statement. It’s not that people can’t afford it. We’re tired of getting nickel and dimed just to take a vacation! I would never spend $120 to check luggage unless I had no choice and could not go at all. I feel I already pay enough to enjoy Hawaii, why add to the bill if I don’t have to. That’s why I’m looking forward to SW! ☺️

    5. My problem with taking only a carry-on is the cosmetic stuff I need. Most of it is not available over there or would cost me more than the saved baggage fees, I put them in a rubber maid container and it takes up a lot of space. If I use baggies they can get crushed and squirt out in the bag – NO! I can put them in smaller containers in my backpack, but ONLY ONE quart-sized baggie is allowed, right? Any ideas people?

    6. That is why we fly Southwest. However, the traveler must remember that most of Hawaii is extremely casual so bring less and get a place with a washer dryer. Unfortunately those with toys like snorkel and biking safety gear cant get a break on bringing less. I think that those extra unregulated bag fees just take away from money spent in Hawaii and thus hurt local business. And less goods I buy there to take home like coffee!

  11. Just paid $50 for two checked bags on Hawaiian airlines (two people traveling) from KOA to HNL for the 47 minute flight tomorrow morning. Nice if you would have ADDED Southwest Airlines to your bag fee list. Granted flights with SWA have not started yet but all signals say that two bags per person come with NO ADDITIONAL FEES. Also looking forward to SWA doing inter-island flights to see if Hawaiian Airlines make a change in their inter-island baggage fees.

    1. You mist have missed this part:
      Southwest Airlines (flights not announced yet): No charge for first two checked bags. (Best deal).

  12. And if you think the price is steep for a suitcase, try looking at the cost of flying with a bicycle (or other sporting equipment). $100-$150 each way is standard, but Alaska Air charges the same for a bike as a suitcase. So if you have their credit card and get a free checked bag, and that bag happens to be your bike, you just saved a couple of hundred dollars per trip.

    I do have to disagree partially about the snorkeling equipment. We pack our masks and snorkels but rent fins. It’s the fins that take up the space. And anyone who has rented or purchased a cheap mask or one that does not fit properly, knows how important it is to have good quality and good fitting equipment. I’d leave behind that extra pair of shoes before leaving behind my mask and snorkel.

    1. I would pack a wedding dress in a carryon suitcase and get it pressed over there. I wouldn’t let it out of my sight.

    2. Granted, I have been married 50 years and did not do a destination wedding. But, was thinking (if your heart can stand the strain) have you considered shipping the dress INSURED, of course? You could then box it appropriately and often hotels will accept packages a week ahead of time for a small fee.

      I can say this after 50 years and realizing I am a LOT more relaxed about things now than I was then. So, do feel free to ignore this post. you won’t hurt my feelings one bit. I was just thinking out loud.

      If you have not bought the dress yet – perhaps consider some of the very ‘casual’ looking dresses that go great with a beach wedding and bare feet. MORE unsolicited advice :0)

    3. PS on wedding dress:
      Daughter in law took hers as carry on in a nice garment bag and had the hotel steam it or you can take your own steamer if you don’t trust it out of your sight. If it can hang a couple days it should look good. Hope you have a WONDERFUL HAWAII WEDDING and many happy years.

      1. I took my wedding dress to St Lucia in a foldable suitcase wardrobe. I was questioned once when we got on the small plane to St Lucia if they could stow it and I told them the contents. The airline (American) said we wouldn’t want to make you stress out about not having your dress out of sight so I just did the check at the gate with it. They didn’t want to deal with a panicked bride to be and I don’t blame them. Just don’t do the traditional bag check part. Too many risks for that type of item.

  13. When buying trinkets and other souvenirs for friends and family, I stop at a post office and send the gift directly to the recipient. If you send Priority Mail you get a box and can use the Post Office’s Priority Mail tape. The mailing cost is the same as mailing on the mainland.

    1. I also mail items back home to myself, particularly liquids (skin creams, lotions) since I only bring carry-on bag for my usual 10-12 day stay. Priority Mail is a whole lot less than baggage fees and no risk of having liquids confiscated.

  14. As for packing clothing you intend to donate, please make sure it’s laundered and folded before donating. A friend packs worn out underwear they plan to toss, then throw it away as they go. But in general, you can pack so light for Hawaii that not much is needed.

  15. We are trying to determine how to manage our luggage from the time we get off cruise ship at 0800 until we go to airport at 6pm. We were thinking we didn’t want to carry it around the city does anyone please have any suggestions? Thank you

    1. Hi Beth.

      From our recollection there is no longer luggage storage at or near the airport. Are you going on the NCL cruise or another one. If it is NCL, would suggest you plan to be at the dock by 12 noon or earlier. You can board much sooner than is indicated and you’ll save yourself a lot of lines and grief in so doing.


      1. It seems like they are asking about the debarkation, the reverse of your answer. Take a day tour of the city or to Pearl Harbor, etc., and a decent tour company should store the luggage for you.

    2. I don’t know where you are staying, but the Hilton Hawaiian Village has a room that you can drop off your luggage and then come back to pick it up when you are ready. We have been to Oahu several times, and have used this each time. Be sure to leave them just a little tip.

  16. ROLL those clothes – you get far more in the suitcase. Swap out cotton for the lighter weight clothing such as Columbia, REI, and even women’s retailer Chico’s Zynergy collection. Cotton is rotten in the terms of sweat retention, wrinkles and weight. These lighter weight fabrics not only weigh less, they roll into small tube sizes and wrinkles disappear, especially in Hawaii. no ironing and they wash well and just hang to dry. If going in winter months or over to Kauai where it rains more, do bring a light weight rain jacket with hoodie. Also, pack one or two of the Tide laundry pods in a baggie and don’t forget a couple of dryer sheets.

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