Flying on Allegiant Air Without Baggage Fees, Take 2

How to avoid Allegiant Air baggage fees

I just took a flight for a long weekend on Allegiant Air and managed to do it without paying any baggage fees.

Anyone who has flown this bare-bones airline knows that is not an easy task. The only luggage you can bring along without paying luggage fees is a bag measuring a maximum of 15 inches by 14 inches by 7 inches. When I wrote about pulling this off five years ago, the only thing I could find in my luggage-filled house that would work was a schwag bag freebie from a trade show.

This time I found another solution: a convertible bike pannier bag from A company called The Property Of. Usually it’s on the back of my bike, but when I pulled out a tape measure and found it fit, out came the shoulder strap and I was off.

under seat bag Allegiant Air

Now granted it’s easier to pack this light if you’re a married man not going out on the town in your place of arrival. A woman who needs 6 outfits for three days and 12 kinds of goop would have a much tougher time. I packed one additional pair of pants, 2 t-shirts, 2 regular shirts, underwear, socks, my laptop, and all the needed cords. Toiletries were all trial sized items. I wore a few layers including another secret weapon: my ExOfficio Storm Logic jacket. Besides being cozy, it’s loaded with pockets on the inside, pockets that held my Kindle, earbuds, sunglasses, and some cords.

There’s another company called Stuffa that makes a warm vest with 12 stuffable pockets, so that would be a good thing to have for flying on Allegiant without baggage. Or there’s the original–ScotteVest. I’ve used their multi-pocketed vest for trips like this as well. 

Odd-sized Bags Only on Allegiant Air

The Allegiant carry-on rules make it difficult to travel without paying. The only way to get around Allegiant baggage fees and still bring a piece of luggage on board is to stuff everything in a very small bag. The Allegiant Air personal item. They allow what will fit under the seat, which this airline defines as 15 inches high, 16 inches wide, and 7 inches deep.

So if the Allegiant personal item size is so well defined, how many bags out there are actually 15 inches by 16 inches by 7 inches? Not many it turns out. Your average laptop bag is wider than 16 inches and very few backpacks are only 7 inches deep. On my flight leg, someone in front of me glided on with a Ciao Luggage under-seat bag with wheels. It seemed a little too fat to me so I looked it up and indeed, it’s 8.5 inches wide instead of 7. This Delsey under-seat bag is in the same situation—two inches wider than the very stingy 7. It’s soft though, so if you didn’t pack it tight you could probably make it fit in the sizer. Any of them will easily fit under the seat of course, but you’re taking a risk that a grumpy gate agent could make you check it on the spot if you’re pushing the limit. 

People are getting away with these bags that come close because the gate agents rightfully don’t love being bad cops all day. I’d imagine they don’t subject their customers to stuffing things in the sizer very often. (It hasn’t happened on any on my last few flights.)

Allegiant Air bag sizer

But that’s if you’re in the ballpark—you can’t bring something on an Allegiant Air flight that really won’t fit under the seat and try to breeze through without getting noticed. Even with these Ciao and Delsey ones though, you need to smile, act like you’ve done this 100 times, and be nice to the gate agents. If they didn’t want to cut you any slack, you could be stuck for more than the cost of the bag in baggage fees.

The best advice for getting something that works is to scout around. The Allegiant bag size is not one you’ll find in a typical luggage array in a store. I’d recommend finding a small gym bag or scouring your local thrift shops with a tape measure in hand—old bowling ball bags are about right.

Waiting to Commit Will Cost You

These Allegiant baggage fees are lowest when you book your ticket, then they really sock it to you if you want until arriving at the airport to decide you actually need luggage for your vacation. The carry-on fee is $15-$20 per flight leg up front depending on how far you’re going, then spikes to an outrageous $50 each way at the airport. Checking a bag runs $20-$30 per segment at the time of booking rises to $45 pre-departure, then $50 at the airport. For just one bag. They say they can charge “up to $75” for a gate-checked bag.

The Allegiant baggage weight is only 40 pounds, so you’ll pay more if your checked bag is more than 40 pounds (most U.S. airlines allow up to 50). You will also pay extra if it has dimensions that are over the ones listed on the Allegiant site. Thankfully, the Allegiant carry on size is the same as the legacy airlines’ is: 45 linear inches of 14 X 22 X 9 inches. 

The reason people put up with this restrictive baggage policy—and all the other Allegiant fees—is that the base fares are so low. You could actually pay less for your ticket than you do in fees, even if all you do is check a bag the day of because you bought some things you need to bring home. My flight between Clearwater/St. Pete, FL to Greenville, SC was $125 when paying with my credit card. I flew from Syracuse to Tampa Bay for under $100 one-way.

I bought a ticket on Allegiant Air for my mom to come visit from Virginia and that was $119 round-trip, plus about $80 in fees. Bringing her in on United would cost more than $500, there’s a plane change, and she would still get dinged for baggage if she checked a bag. Ouch! The Allegiant flight came out way ahead, even with all the fees. 

The Allegiant baggage fee is just one of many fees on that airline though: you’ll pay to pick a seat, to board first, to get a drink of water, get a boarding pass at the counter, or pay with a credit card (3.2% up to $8). I paid the credit card one, but ducked all the others on my no-baggage flight. With no seat selection (which can be “up to $80”) I got a dreaded middle seat on the way there, but a window seat back. It’s only an hour and a half to where my father lives, so I didn’t mind taking the chance. Here’s the whole fee rundown, which requires some scrolling. But check out the base prices:

Allegiant cheap fares come with baggage fees

I’ve done this before and I’ll do it again. I can fly to 55 cities from Tampa Bay on this airline. Since the big 3 suck so badly anyway and are generally downright unpleasant to fly, there’s not much advantage anymore to being on deceptive legacy airlines American, Delta, or United. Yes, you can earn miles, but not as many anymore since those miles are based on dollars spent rather than miles flown. You’re better off just churning their credit cards.

If the flight is going to suck anyway and the big airlines are all racing to the bottom to be more like Spirit and Allegiant, you might as well take the direct flight with the lower fare—even if you do end up paying luggage fees. Remember though, the Allegiant checked bag weight is only 40 pounds. You still need to pack relatively light.

But if you can manage to fly on Allegiant air without paying for luggage at all, you’ve scored a double win.

Have you tried a way to avoid Allegiant Air baggage fees? Tell us your story in the comments!

  1. Polly Everage

    Can you take flower seeds in your personal bag.
    Polly Everage
    Grgma20[email protected]

    • Tim Leffel

      Unless it’s an international flight, yes.

  2. amanda

    Curious, I am hoping to take my kids kindle in their personal bag, Do you know if they allow that with all the fires in flight. Thanks

    • Tim Leffel

      Not an issue on any flights within or out of the USA.

  3. JUDY

    I few from St Pete/Clear Water airport on Allegiant in April 2017 I am a handicapped person in a wheel chair and traveling with my caregiver. My caregiver could not sit with me unless I purchased his seat at additional price. I did not know this until I arrived at airport, most airline will seat caregiver next to special needs person automaticly, I booked on line and no mention of caregiver seating with a handicapped person at additional cost seating. The caregiver must purchase seating at additional next to the handicapped person he or she is traveling with. Just FYI for future special needs travelers.

    • Tim Leffel

      Yes, you have to shell out for everything, including assigned seats. It doesn’t matter the situation. Same with Spirit, RyanAir, Aerobus, etc.

  4. Linda K VanDamme 2 neices need to fly to Flagstaff AZ to visit their mother…very ill. Anyway one neice is large and can hardly fit in one seat. The other is very trim. Does allegiant have seats with removable arm rests. They could easily fit. Trying to avoid buying two seats for Michelle

    • Tim Leffel

      Not that I know of. As with most budget carriers, all seats are the same. Spirit has some larger ones at the front for a small premium.

  5. Gforce

    If you are, or were, military, ALL of your bags are free. I get one personal, one overhead, and three checked bags at no cost — forever. Thanks, Allegiant!

    • Kelly Green

      Any chance you know if my husband is a veteran and we are flying with him, do we get our carry-on bag free too??

      • Brenda

        Yes you need to have military spouse ID at check in, then you also get free carry on and three checked bags …. dependents also get this if they have Dependant ID.

        • Doris Rogers

          How does one get “dependent ID” for free baggage and does this apply to a widow of a Veteran.

      • John Hain

        do they charge for weight

  6. Simon Sykes

    Solid article. For the reliably-sketchy Allegiant Air experience, I use a safety-award backpack from a construction project 20 years ago. You can jam a lot of stuff into a non-compartmentalized backpack. And it’s squishy, so you can torture it down into their template box if necessary. I’ve never been hassled about it.

  7. J Reynolds

    If I use a suitcase that fits the personal dimensions that fits under the seat, can I carry it on without any fee even though it looks like a suitcase?

  8. Andrea Spitzer

    My mom got me a touch lamp in want to bring it because she passes it’s the only thing I have can I bring it aboard

    • Tim Leffel

      That’s not a restricted item as far as I know.

  9. Kay Riddle

    Can I bring cookies, other small snacks, homemade?

    • Tim Leffel

      As long as they’re not liquids or gels, yes on any airline I’ve ever been on.

  10. Rebecca Burnett

    I’d love to know if i can add a bag AFTER booking, but BEFORE I get to the airport. I am not sure how many bags i need just yet, but i would not wait til the airport. Is the only time to get a discounted bag fees at the time of purchase? Or, after purchase but Before the day of departure? THanks.

    • Tim Leffel

      Yes, you can do that, though it might have to be before the check-in process and printing your boarding pass. And the fee structures are intentionally complicated (as they are with the legacy airlines too), so it may be a few bucks more than if you made up your mind when first booking.

  11. sara

    Does Allegiant offer free seat assignment for families travelling with young children? Most major airlines I’ve traveled with allow me to buy my tickets first, then I just have to call reservations and tell then I’m with young children, and they would gladly assign seats (so we’re not separated) for free.

    • Tim Leffel

      Nope, you will pay extra for that. You have to take your chances at check-in.

    • BB

      When my 9 year old and I checked in for our flight we were separated, but I contacted Allegiant through the online chat option and explained the situation. It was immediately resolved and we were seated together. I think as long as there are enough seats together available they would rather parents sit with their children than be separated from them. That would be a huge liability on their part.

  12. Dave

    you also pay a $18 “Carrier Usage Charge” per segment for booking online and over the phone

  13. Greg

    I have a laptop backpack that’s 17″ tall, 14″ wide, and around 8″ thick with laptop inside. The thing is, I fit it comfortably sideways into the Allegiant personal item bag sizer at another airport which is what gives me the idea I could use it for my one free bag. Knowing that do you think I can ignore that it doesn’t exactly pass the tape measure? Thanks.

    • Tim Leffel

      If it fits in the sizer (and under the seat) you should be fine.

    • Scott Adams

      Greg. I have the same size laptop bag. Did it pass for personal carry on for allegiant..

  14. Mary

    Can you bring Travel size lotion, dove soap and perfume on your personal item bag?

    • Tim Leffel

      TSA rules on liquids have been roughly the same since 2002. That’s handled at security checkpoints, not by the airlines.

  15. Joyce Moore

    I fly all airlines without baggage fees. I have a backpack that is within all their different regulations. Less is more! Love Allegiant and Frontier for cheap flights.

  16. Jim

    When you say “no fee charge for Veteran’s bags..Does the veteran have to be on active duty or retired military? I’m a Navy veteran card carrying lifetime Amvets member , and a annual American Legion member….

  17. Eva Longoria

    I read your article about baggage policies, I find it very interesting and very informative. As a Frequent Flier, I usually travel with Turkish airlines and I get a Big discount on airline tickets, cheap flight and last-minute flights easily.

  18. Ann

    I’m a frequent business traveler with TSA preCheck. When my employer is paying, I use the big airlines which are much more comfortable and convenient but when I pay, I go budget. I travel with my small child to visit our family frequently and even with the base fare and not choosing our seats, they always put us together. I have the airline app and use it for the boarding pass. I don’t pay for carry on and travel with two small rolling bags which aren’t as big as a standard carry on, but don’t fit under the seat either and they have never given me any trouble. I assume it’s because its not TSA’s job to enforce the airline’s baggage fees and at the gate, they are busy trying to get everyone on board. I board early when they call for anyone traveling with small children so I don’t have trouble getting overhead bin space. I’m not sure how old my child has to be for us to stop benefiting from this but it’s worked out thru 7 years old on both allegiant and Spirit.

  19. Kim

    I learned by trying to book my kids on a flight by themselves that Allegiant wont allow 14 and under to travel alone and they will seat a patent with them for free.

  20. Ardith Johnson

    I have found that a beach bag makes a great, cheap carry on, and versatile use if I’m going to a beach destination. Surprisingly, I can pack up to 3 days worth of clothes in there, all rolled up, and still squishy enough to fit in the measuring bin. If I buy stuff while I’m on vacation, I just stop at a post office and get one of there boxes that ships for one price, no matter the weight, and mail my clothes back home. It’s a 2 day priory box, and usually cost like $18. Then I can cruise right on the plane home without lugging anything.

  21. Betty

    Can I carry on a travel sized hair spray in my purse?

    • Tim Leffel

      That’s a question for the TSA, but in general, aerosol items of any kind are not welcome on planes. They can explode. If it’s just a pump spray, no problem if it’s under the designated size limit.

  22. Sheila Robinson

    Does the carry on bag have weight limits?

    • Tim Leffel

      Not that I am aware of. The personal item is supposed to be 25 pounds or less, but I’ve never seen them weigh that or the carry-on. The checked bag limit is 40 pounds, which is 10 less than most other airlines. So a lot of people get tripped up by that and have to pay more. It’s a racket.

  23. Patricia Woodward

    I have been flying Allegiant Air from Maryland to Sanford/Orlando a couple times a year since my daughter moved there with my grandchildren. I got dinged for the luggage at first, thinking I could “breeze by” them. Yikes! $100 at the gate. Well, game on Allegiant Air…game on!
    I found a carry on to meet the dimensions (A very large purse, actually). Then I space bagged all my clothes. Two medium sized space bags holds a lot of clothes….and still way under the 40 lb limit. I then wore a light vest with deep pockets. I could stuff a ton of things in there (they cannot charge you for what is on your body) and once I got past the weigh-in station, I stopped and emptied my pockets into the bag.
    NOTE: If you are going to do this, make sure that the items in the space bags are CLOTHES ONLY or you may have to open it for security. I personally am able to leave a tote of toiletries at my daughters house, so I do not have to bring any liquids. But you can fill your pockets with 2 oz toiletries, and throw them away before returning home. Also note you will need access to a vacuum to use the space bags on the way home.

    • Tim Leffel

      Great advice on the space bags. Thanks!

  24. Jackie frank

    Can you take 2 check in to destination and return with one

    • Tim Leffel

      Yes, each flight leg requires a separate luggage charge.

  25. Dee

    After reading this, if I already paid for a carry on bag, can I change my mind and cancel it and just use a personal item

  26. Connie Hite

    I am a diabetic and take liquid insulin so there I have to use needles, am I allowed to take my needles in my back pack

  27. Phyllis Leonard

    I am a retired flight attendant, can I qualify for free seat assignment?

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