Are checked baggage fees refundable?

The good news? YES you can get a refund on your checked baggage fees. The bad news? But only if your baggage goes missing. That’s right. Airlines are only required to give you a refund if your bags are delayed by more than 12 hours (domestic) or 15 hours (international). Ouch!

You’ll have to check with your airline for specifics on your flight, but in pretty much every other case, you’re out of luck. Let’s look at the most common reasons for wanting a refund on baggage fees and see which ones will give you your money back.

  • If you’re canceling your flight

    Airlines want your money upfront. That’s why it’s cheaper to pay for all those “extras” when you book your ticket than at the airport. And it’s pretty tempting, right? If you know you’re going to check a bag – and really, who doesn’t – then you may as well pay for it ahead of time and save money.

    So you buy your tickets and prepay bags (both ways). And then you have to cancel or reschedule your flight. Sure, the airline will give you a refund or voucher. But baggage fees? Nope. You’ll have to pay those again when you reschedule. It’s the ultimate “sorry not sorry” from your airline.

  • If you just decide you don’t need as much…. stuff

    Raise your hand if you can fly with just a carry-on. No one? That’s okay, overpacking is an underappreciated art form! But sometimes, very rarely, but sometimes, you’ll find that you really don’t need to bring as much with you. Or maybe you just overestimated how much room you would need.

    The point is, as you’re packing before your flight, you’ve realized that you can fit all your vacay gear into one suitcase instead of two. So you decide to cancel that extra baggage fee. Another “lol, no” from the airlines. Once you’ve paid, you’ve paid. You won’t be able to cancel your baggage fees. You’re stuck paying for that extra suitcase that you’re not bringing, both ways.

  • If you want to unbundle

    No, we’re not talking about the weather, we’re talking about airline bundles. If you’ve booked a flight with a discount airline recently, you’ve probably seen this trend. Airlines are “bundling up” their a la carte items to save you money. So, if you know you’re going to check bags ($45), and want lunch ($15), and maybe you prefer an exit row ($20), you can buy them as part of a package deal, and pay less.

    But here’s the thing: with most airlines, you have to buy your bundles when you book your flight, and they’re nonrefundable. That’s right. Even if you cancel your flight or decide you don’t need one of the items – c’mon, you can bring your own snacks! – you’ll still have to pay for the full bundle you bought. No unbundling, and no canceled bundles.

It kind of sucks, doesn’t it? It’s a catch-22. Do you pay ahead of time and risk losing money with nonrefundable baggage fees? Or do you wait and get stuck paying a higher price at the airport? Too much stress!

Take a deep breath, we’ve got you covered! LugLess has a much better solution: ship your luggage to your destination. You can decide just a few days before your flight, so that you’ll be sure that you’re not canceling and have a better idea of how much you’re bringing. And with prices starting at $20, it costs even less than paying baggage fees online.