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Packing tips

A little advanced planning can protect your luggage from the normal rigors of air travel so you can concentrate on your vacation.

  • When purchasing luggage, select pieces that are lightweight, roomy, and durable. Material and design should be able to keep contents dry in adverse weather.
  • Prior to packing, make a list of everything you want to take and check off each item as it is packed. This will help make sure you don't forget anything (it's no fun to discover your toothbrush is still at home when you need to brush your teeth). It will also serve as a handy inventory list should your luggage become lost and you need to file a claim.
  • Airline passengers may now carry only one bag plus one smaller, personal-type item onboard the airplane.
      o Bag dimensions are limited to 10x16x24 inches.
      o Personal-type items include purses, briefcases, cameras, food containers, or laptops (case included).
  • A child safety seat that does not meet the normal carryon size limitations may be brought onboard only if a ticket has been purchased for its use in a passenger seat. All child safety seats used onboard the aircraft must be F.A.A. approved.Keep your jewelry, keys, wallets, eyeglasses, tickets, money, passports, cameras, and other valuables with you in your carryon luggage. Also carry on any medication that you may need during your trip. Although it doesn't happen often, flights can be delayed or luggage lost, and you may need your medication before you receive your luggage.
  • Always put your name and address on the outside of all baggage, both checked and carryon. We also recommend placing your name and address on the inside as well, since outside tags can come off.
  • Be sure to remove any old destination tags from your luggage. You certainly don't want your bags to end up in the wrong city!
  • Put cosmetics, shoe polish, nail enamel, perfume, and anything else that might spill, break, and stain your clothing into resealable plastic bags or unbreakable containers. Hazardous materials are not allowed onboard.
  • Placing garments in plastic bags (such as those that come from a dry cleaners) before folding and packing will help to prevent wrinkling.
  • Rolling up pants, t-shirts, etc. like a newspaper will lessen wrinkling.
  • Placing rolled up socks and other soft clothing items inside shoes will save space and help the shoes keep their shape.
  • Purchase travel size bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and other toiletries or place just the amounts you will need of these items in small containers to take with you. Carrying around several big bottles can get awfully heavy; plus, they take up lots of space in your luggage.
  • Fragile items may be included in your carryon allowance and brought onboard the plane. If you decide to check a fragile item, it's important to make sure it is properly packed to withstand the normal rigors of air travel. Fragile articles are accepted as check baggage only at the customer's own risk.
  • Don't overpack your luggage. Overpacking can wrinkle clothing and cause baggage to rip apart or pop open during handling and transport. Don't take the chance of losing items you have packed. If your bag cannot be easily closed, take something out!
  • Remove hooks and straps before checking luggage. These are easily caught in baggage handling machinery, which can cause extensive damage to your bag.
  • Southwest usually begins accepting baggage for checkin up to four hours before scheduled departure time.
  • When checking luggage, allow sufficient time for it to be placed on your flight. Baggage checked less than 20 minutes before scheduled departure at curbside or at the ticket counter will be tagged with a Late Checkin tag. Although every effort will be made to get late checked baggage on your flight, in the event your baggage does not arrive with you at your destination, Southwest Airlines will not assume delivery charges to get your baggage to you.
  • When you've checked your luggage, make sure you receive a separate claim check for each piece of baggage you've checked. Check to make sure that the city shown on the claim check(s) matches your final destination.
  • All carryon luggage is subject to inspection at the security checkpoint. It could be required that gifts be unwrapped for inspection, so it's best to wait to wrap them until you've reached your destination. The following items are considered dangerous and are not allowed in carry on luggage:
      o knives, including hunting and cooking knives
      o handguns and rifles, including compressed air and CO2 powered weapons
      o mace, pepper spray, or tear gas
      o billy clubs, nightsticks, or brass knuckles
      o any hazardous material as defined and regulated by Federal law
      o balloons filled with helium gas
      o handcuffs
  • Never pack anything considered a hazardous material. Seemingly harmless materials can be dangerous onboard an aircraft. Leave home any flammable liquids (paints, solvents, etc.), household items that contain chemicals (bleaches, drain cleaners, and the like), matches , and other flammable or potentially toxic materials. Variations in temperature and pressure can cause such goods to leak or ignite.
  • If traveling with an electric wheelchair, you must check in for your flight at least one hour prior to departure to allow for disassembly, when necessary, and proper packaging of batteries. Bringing along assembly instructions will help prevent damage during disassembly and will speed delivery time upon arrival at your destination.
  • Southwest does not accept styrofoam coolers. All perishable items are accepted at the customer's own risk. The perishables must be completely frozen and packed in a hard, durable ice chest. Preferable refrigerant would be a frozen gel pack(s) placed inside the plastic bag with the frozen perishable item(s). A small amount of ice is acceptable when packed in a separate, leakproof bag inside the ice chest. Loose ice is not permitted. Dry ice is acceptable in quantities under 5 pounds, provided it is shipped in a package vented to release the carbon dioxide gasses to prevent a build up of pressure. The outside of the container must be marked "DRY ICE" or "CARBON DIOXIDE SOLID" and display the net weight of the dry ice.
  • Never leave your luggage unattended. If you must leave the area where you have placed it, even for a moment, take your luggage with you.
  • When boarding the aircraft, any carryon item with hard edges or inflexible surfaces should be placed under your seat or on the floor of the overhead bin. Don't place it on top of other items in the overhead bin. Luggage shifts about within the bin, and it could fall out and injure someone when the bin door is opened.
  • When leaving the aircraft, check to make sure you have all your carryon items with you. Southwest cannot be responsible for carryon items left onboard the aircraft.
  • When claiming your checked baggage, check the claim check number and name tag to make sure it is yours. Many pieces of luggage look alike, and you don't want to walk off with someone else's.
  • If your luggage is damaged or does not arrive as scheduled, immediately notify Southwest Airlines. Claims must be filed, in person, within four (4) hours of your flight's arrival.
  • Southwest Airlines does not accept live animals except for assistance animals trained to aid persons with disabilities.
  • Southwest Airlines allows two (2) checked pieces of baggage per ticketed customer. Size and weight limitations apply.
  • Excess baggage: a 3rd through 9th bag or item may be checked for a charge of $50 per piece, and any bag or item thereafter will be $110 per piece.
  • Maximum allowed weight per item is 50 pounds and maximum size per item is 62 inches--height, width, and length combined. Oversized (up to 80 inches total) and/or overweight (up to 100 pounds) items will be accepted for an additional charge per item. Fishing rods will be accepted at no extra charge if encased in a manufacturer's container or for an additional charge if encased in a container furnished by Southwest. Any item over 100 pounds must be shipped as air cargo.
  • Improperly packed and/or fragile items will be conditionally accepted and Southwest will not be responsible for any damage to items that are tagged with Conditional Acceptance.
  • Southwest Airlines' liability for loss or damage of checked luggage (with the exception of wheelchairs, mobility aids, and assistive devices used by an individual with a disability) is limited to the proven amount of damage or loss, but, in no event, shall not be greater than $3,000.00 per ticketed passenger. If your baggage and the contents contained therein is valued at more than this amount, you may purchase excess valuation insurance at time of checkin. If we damage your wheelchair or other assistive device or mobility aid, we will pay for the documented cost of the repair. If we lose your wheelchair, mobility aid, or any other assistive device, or if we damage it beyond repair, we will reimburse you the documented original purchase price, without depreciation.
  • Southwest Airlines/Southwest Vacations will not be responsible for money; jewelry; cameras; video and electronic equipment, including computers; silverware; precious gems and metals; negotiable papers; securities; business documents; samples; items intended for sale; paintings and other works of art; antiques; collectors' items; artifacts; manuscripts; furs; irreplaceable books or publications; and similar valuables contained in checked or unchecked baggage
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