The Unwritten Southwest Airlines Carry On Bag Weight Limit

Last Updated on August 14, 2022

The weight limit for a checked bag on Southwest is 50 lbs or less.

But is there a weight limit for carry-on luggage?

Well no… not officially.

But there is an unwritten weight limit that comes into play because of one of Southwest’s other carry-on baggage policies.

This post explains all.

The Unoffical Weight Limit For Carry-On Bags On Southwest

A passenger on Twitter asked Southwest if they have a weight limit for hand luggage:

Here’s what Southwest replied.

Each traveler will be allotted one carry-on bag for the overhead bin that can’t exceed 24 x 16 x 10 inches and one personal item to stow under the seat in front of them. There is no weight limit for carryon items, as long as you can lift and stow without assistance.

It’s that last part of the answer that creates an unoffical weight limit for carry-on baggage on Southwest flights.

You need to be able to lift your own bag above your head to stow it in the overhead bin all by yourself.

This might seem trivial if you are 6 feet tall, young, fit, and healthy.

But many travelers are shorter, elderly, pregnant, recovering from surgery, the list is endless. There are many reasons why a passenger might struggle to lift a heavy suitcase into the overhead compartment.

You might have assume that a flight attendant will lift the bag into the overhead bin for you.

In fact, while Southwest flight crew are trained to assist passengers with finding a place to stow the luggage they are instructed NOT to lift luggage into the bins for passengers.

Southwest explains this in another tweet:

According to Southwest, flight attendants risk serious injury if they routinely lift hundreds of bags.

When they put it like that, it makes sense.

It might seem like small ask to lift one bag into the overhead bin, but to lift heavy bags in to the bin, day after day, week after week it does pose a risk to the health of the flight crew.

This leads to situations like Katrina experienced:

When Katrina flew with Southwest she couldn’t lift on bag into the bin because she has a bad back.

The passenger seated behind her refused to help her.

The flight attendant also refused to help her and said that her bag would need to be checked.

All hand luggage needs to either be stored in the bin or under a seat before the plane is legally permitted to take off.

That means if you can’t lift your bag over your head into the bin the you risk that your bag will be force checked.

In a sense Katrina’s carry-on bag was over her own weight limit for a Southwest flight because she couldn’t lift it without assistance.

The Verdict

There is no official weight limit for carry-on luggage on Southwest airlines.

There is an unofficial weight limit determined by your own physical strength.

Flight attendants are not required to assist passengers with lifting bags and you cannot depend upon sitting next to a kind stranger.

If you can’t lift your suitcase to store it in the bin flight crew may take it from you and check it into the plane’s hold.

Did This Page Help You?