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Carryon baggage policy and tips

Southwest Vacations travel tips

Of course we've all adjusted to changes in air travel lately, but we still want the time you spend with Southwest Airlines to be easy and enjoyable. That's why we've prepared some tips that we hope will assist you when preparing for your flights to and from your vacation.

FAA mandated carryon policy:

In keeping with new security directives from the FAA, strict limits are being imposed on carryon items.

  • Airline passengers may now carry only one bag plus one smaller, personal-type item onboard the airplane.
  • All customers' and employees' items are subject to a thorough, physical search.
  • Personal-type items include purses, briefcases, cameras, food containers, or laptops (case included).
  • Assistive devices for qualified customers with disabilities will not be considered carryon or personal items and may be brought onboard the flight in addition to the above.
  • Southwest Airlines limits carryon bag dimensions to 10x16x24 inches.
  • On Southwest Airlines, a child restraint device for a child who has been ticketed or who has a seat reserved will not be considered a carryon or personal-type item and may be carried onboard.

When In doubt, leave it out

If you're not sure whether an item will be accepted past the security checkpoint, it's probably best to either travel without it or ponder some of these fabulous alternatives. Is it really necessary to check your bag just so you can travel with that extra tube of hair gel? Even if hair gel isn't your thing, we encourage you to visit the TSA's website to learn what other items can or cannot be carried onboard the aircraft. Being informed before you pack and go will help reduce the amount of time spent in line at the security checkpoint or the ticket counter.

Did you know?

  • In this new era of security procedures, many hotel chains are assisting customers by maintaining a supply of essential toiletries. Shampoo, conditioner, lotion, toothpaste, mouthwash, and even contact lens solution are being provided on request by many nationwide hotel properties. Please make sure to check with your individual hotel as to what they are providing their guests.
  • Hotels are also making sure their gift shops are fully stocked with essential items (including that oh-so-important hair gel), and many are even located within a short distance to a local convenience store or drugstore.
  • Several companies offer carryon-friendly alternatives to the liquid versions of your toiletries or personal items. Consider powdered toothpaste, bar shampoo (shampoo that looks like a bar of soap), perfume or cologne towelettes, powdered sunscreen, and moistened face wash towelettes. Check your local drugstore, grocery store, or convenience store for these and other products.
  • Ok, ok. So you can't live without the hair gel. You can certainly check your bags as you head out for your trip. However, have you considered leaving any leftover toiletries in your hotel room before you head back home? This will save you time at the airport if it allows you to carry on your bag instead of checking it, and will even give you a reason to buy a fresh supply when you return home.

Lithium batteries

The Department of Transportation has recently updated the regulations regarding lithium ion and lithium metal batteries. These batteries power common electronic devices such as watches, cell phones, pda's, cameras, laptops, etc. and should be carried in carryon baggage only. Batteries must either be installed in equipment or be protected from short circuit. One of the easiest ways to protect spare batteries from short circuit is by placing them in individual zip top plastic bags or taping over the terminals.

In addition to assuring the batteries are protected from the possibility of short circuit, batteries are subject to lithium metal and lithium ion content limits on a per battery basis. Most consumer electronic materials will fall below these requirements, but some larger batteries (auxiliary laptop batteries and large video cameras for example) may exceed the limits.

For additional information on these and other hazardous material restrictions in checked or carryon baggage, please see or the travel tools section on

Checking in

Ticketed customers must present their tickets for checkin at the airport ticket counter or a Skycap Podium (in select locations) to obtain a boarding pass.

Carryon or checked baggage?

All luggage is subject to inspection, and regardless of the way it is packed or sealed, it may have to be opened. If you are checking luggage, we recommend that you limit your checked luggage to no more than two pieces and arrive at the ticket counter 120 minutes (two hours) before your flight's scheduled departure. We strongly suggest that you carry your Southwest Vacations' travel documents, keys, and medicines on you (or in your carryon items) and not place them in your checked luggage.

Stay informed

Please visit Southwest's flight status online for the latest information regarding your flight. You may also sign up for Southwest's convenient flight status messaging to receive the latest information about your flight via e-mail, cell phone, or pager.

Get helpful tips from fellow customers, and share your own

Check out the Southwest blog, Nuts About Southwest, and share your hot tip for making travel more convenient, or just read how other customers are adjusting to "life without liquids".

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