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.

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