Baggage Embargo

Ultimate Guide to Baggage Embargoes and Restrictions

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In this article we are going to take a detailed look at airline baggage embargoes. This is an important and often overlooked topic when it comes to air travel. We aim to shed light on what a baggage embargo is and why they exist.

We’ll also explain the distinct types of baggage embargoes and how they can affect traveling with checked baggage.

We also have compiled a comprehensive list of destinations that are affected by baggage limitations to help you plan your travels.

What is a Baggage Embargo?

A baggage embargo is a limitation on the amount or type of luggage that you are allowed to bring on a flight. This can be due to a variety of reasons, such as limited space on the plane, safety concerns, or logistical issues.

Baggage embargoes are imposed by airlines, and they predominantly apply to checked baggage. On rare occasions, baggage embargoes are also applied to carry-on allowances. The specific rules and restrictions of a baggage embargo will vary depending on the airline and the specific circumstances of the flight.

For example, an airline may apply a baggage embargo for a particular flight if the plane has a smaller cargo hold and cannot accommodate the usual amount of luggage. In this case, the airline may limit the amount of luggage that each passenger is allowed to bring or may charge extra fees for excess luggage.

It’s important to be aware of any baggage embargoes that may be in effect for your flights, as failure to comply with the restrictions can result in delays, extra fees, or the refusal to allow the luggage on the flight. You should check with your airline for specific information on baggage restrictions before packing for your trip. It’s not unheard of that airlines apply baggage embargoes within days of a flight’s departure. It’s wise to check their email regularly up to the day of their flight, for any last-minute changes to baggage allowances.

It’s worth noting that baggage embargoes are not the same as baggage fees, which are charges that airlines may impose on travelers for bringing additional or oversized luggage. While baggage embargoes are typically imposed for operational or safety reasons, baggage fees are usually applied as a way for airlines to generate extra revenue.

Why Are There Baggage Embargoes?

There are many reasons why airlines might decide to apply baggage embargoes. One reason is to ensure that there is enough space in the aircraft’s cargo hold to accommodate all of the luggage that is expected to be brought on the flight. If the cargo hold is full, the airline may need to place a temporary embargo on baggage to prevent the plane from becoming overloaded.

Another reason for baggage embargoes is to reduce the amount of time that is needed to load and unload luggage at the airport. If there are a large number of bags to be loaded onto the plane, it can take longer to get the plane ready for takeoff. By limiting the amount of baggage that can be brought on the flight, the airline can reduce the time that is needed to load and unload luggage and get the plane in the air more quickly.

Baggage embargoes can also be put in place for safety reasons. For example, if a particular flight is expected to be very full, the airline may decide to limit the amount of baggage that can be brought on board to ensure that there is enough space for passengers to move around the cabin if there is an emergency.

Baggage embargoes may also be temporarily applied during times of natural disasters or other emergencies, when there is a need to prioritize the transport of essential supplies and equipment over passenger luggage.

Overall, baggage embargoes are used by airlines as a way to manage the amount of luggage that is brought on a particular flight and ensure that the flight runs smoothly and safely.

What Are the Types of Baggage Embargoes?

There are several different types of baggage embargoes that may be put in place:

Limitation on Oversized Checked Bags

These embargoes limit the size of bags that can be transported as checked baggage. This may include restrictions on the length, width, and/or height of bags. This restriction is common on flight routes which use smaller sized planes.

Standard checked bags are typically 62 linear inches in size (158 centimeters). This is calculated by adding your bag’s length, height, and width measurements.

On most routes, you can travel with bags up to 126 linear inches (320 centimeters) as long as you pay an oversize fee. On routes that impose a size embargo, oversized checked bags will not be allowed.

Limitation on Overweight Checked Bags

These embargoes limit the weight of bags that can be transported in the plane. This is often done to ensure that the plane is not overloaded, which can affect its safety and performance.

Typically, standard checked bags can weigh up to 50 pounds (23 kilograms). Certain low-cost carriers impose a smaller limit of 40 pounds (18.1 kilograms). Usually, you would be able to travel with overweight bags weighing up to 45 kilograms, subject to a fee.

On flight routes which have a weight embargo, you will be limited on the weight of your checked bags. The weight restriction could vary anywhere from 40 pounds to 70 pounds.

This restriction is common when traveling between the U.S. and the Caribbean.

Limitation on Number of Checked Bags

These embargoes limit the number of bags that can be brought on board the plane. This may be done to ensure that there is enough space for all passengers to have the option of checking a minimum number of bags.

Typically, most airlines do not specify a maximum number of checked bags that you can travel with, if you are willing to pay for the privilege. However, on flight routes that impose a limit on the number of checked bags, you may only be allowed to check up to 2 bags. On rarer occasions, you could be limited to only 1 checked bag.

This checked bag restriction is common on flight routes to the Caribbean.

Limitation on Special Items in Checked Baggage

These embargoes prohibit certain categories of checked baggage from being transported in the plane. Commonly, boxes and certain types of sports equipment are restricted as checked baggage.

For example, United imposes a size limit on boxes when traveling to the Caribbean. A box can be no larger than 42 linear inches. Also, United will not accept the following sports equipment on flight routes subject to a baggage embargo:

  • Bicycles
  • Hang gliders
  • Pole vault equipment
  • Surfboards
  • Wakeboards
  • Windsurfing boards

Exceptions to Baggage Embargoes

There are exceptions to some of the restrictions described above, depending on the airline. Certain types of items, such as medical equipment or assistive devices for people with disabilities are usually allowed without restriction.

Also, passengers traveling in a premium cabin or who have status with the airline can be entitled to additional baggage allowances. Military passengers may also still qualify for their entire free checked baggage allowance. The policies are not consistent across all airlines though. It’s always best to check with your airline before you fly.

The baggage rules and allowances that apply to your specific flight will be included with your reservation email.

What is a Seasonal Baggage Embargo?

A seasonal baggage embargo is a temporary limit that some airlines impose on the size, weight and number of luggage that passengers are allowed to bring on a flight during certain times of the year. These embargoes are often put in place during peak travel periods, such as the summer or winter holidays, when the demand for flights is high and the planes are expected to be fuller.

Seasonal baggage embargoes are usually implemented to ensure that the weight and balance of the plane are within safe limits, as well as to make sure that there is enough space in the cargo hold for all of the luggage that passengers are bringing with them. Some airlines may also impose seasonal baggage embargoes to discourage passengers from bringing too much luggage and to encourage them to travel lighter.

If you are planning to travel during a period when a seasonal baggage embargo is in effect, it is important to check the luggage policies of the airline you will be flying with and make sure that your luggage meets any size and weight restrictions that may be in place. If you have any questions about the baggage embargo, you can contact the airline or your travel agent for more information.

What is a Permanent Baggage Embargo?

A permanent baggage embargo, often referred to by airlines as a year-round embargo, is a baggage limitation that applies throughout the entire year. Seasonal baggage embargoes can apply in addition to permanent limitations, during holiday or summer travel periods.

Destinations Affected by Baggage Embargoes

The following section lists destinations impacted by baggage embargoes. The lists are further categorized by airline.

The list is by no means exhaustive and is subject to change at very short notice (Delta is a common offender). As mentioned elsewhere in this post, it’s important to regularly check your email inbox for any last-minute changes to baggage allowances for upcoming flights.

U.S. Baggage Embargoes

Caribbean Airlines

  • Canada
  • United States

Delta Air Lines

  • Key West, Florida (EYW)

Mexico Baggage Embargoes

American Airlines

  • Aguascalientes (AGU)
  • Chihuahua (CUU)
  • Culiacan (CUL)
  • Hermosillo (HMO)
  • Leon (BJX)
  • Morelia (MLM)
  • San Luis Potosi (SLP)
  • Torreon (TRC)
  • Zacatecas (ZCL)

United Airlines

  • Acapulco (ACA)
  • Aguascalientes (AGU)
  • Cancun (CUN)
  • Chihuahua (CUU)
  • Ciudad Del Carmen (CME)
  • Cozumel (CZM)
  • Guadalajara (GDL)
  • Ixtapa (ZIH)
  • Leon/Guanajuato (BJX)
  • Los Cabos (SJD)
  • Manzanillo (ZLO)
  • Merida (MID)
  • Mexico City (MEX)
  • Monterrey (MTY)
  • Morelia (MLM)
  • Oaxaca (OAX)
  • Puebla (PBC)
  • Puerto Vallarta (PVR)
  • Queretaro (QRO)
  • Tampico (TAM)
  • Tuxtla Gutierrez (TGZ)
  • Veracruz (VER)

Caribbean Baggage Embargoes

American Airlines

  • Camaguey, Cuba (CMW)
  • Dominica, Dominica (DOM)
  • Grenada, Grenada (GND)
  • Havana, Cuba (HAV)
  • Holguin, Cuba (HOG)
  • Kingston, Jamaica (KIN)
  • Port au Prince, Haiti (PAP)
  • Samana, Dominican Republic (AZS)
  • Santa Clara, Cuba (SNU)
  • Santiago, Cuba (SCU)
  • Santiago, Dominican Republic (STI)
  • Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (SDQ)
  • St. Vincent (SVD)
  • Varadero, Cuba (VRA)

Caribbean Airlines

  • Grenada

Delta Air Lines

  • Havana, Cuba (HAV)
  • Santiago, Dominican Republic (STI) to/from New York (JFK)
  • Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (SDQ) to/from New York (JFK)


  • Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • Haiti
  • Trinidad and Tobago

Southwest Airlines

  • Belize City, Belize (BZE)
  • Havana, Cuba (HAV)
  • Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ)
  • Nassau, Bahamas (NAS)

United Airlines

  • Antigua-St. John’s, Antigua (ANU)
  • Belize City, Belize (BZE)
  • Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles (BON)
  • Grand Cayman Island, Cayman Islands (GCM)
  • Havana, Cuba (HAV)
  • Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ)
  • Nassau, Bahamas (NAS)
  • Oranjestad, Aruba (AUA)
  • Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago (POS)
  • Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic (POP)
  • Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ)
  • St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles (SXM)

Central American Baggage Embargoes

America Airlines

  • Comayagua, Honduras (XPL)
  • Managua, Nicaragua (MGA)
  • Roatan, Honduras (RTB)
  • San Pedro Sula, Honduras (SAP)
  • San Salvador, El Salvador (SAL)

Delta Air Lines

  • San Pedro Sula, Honduras (SAP)
  • San Salvador, El Salvador (SAL)

Southwest Airlines

  • San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO)

United Airlines

  • Guatemala City (GUA) to/from Washington, D.C. (IAD)
  • Liberia, Costa Rica (LIR)
  • Panama City, Panama (PTY)
  • Roatan, Honduras (RTB)
  • Roatan, Honduras (RTB)
  • San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO)
  • San Pedro Sula, Honduras (SAP)
  • San Pedro, Honduras (SAP)
  • San Salvador (SAL) to/from Washington, D.C. (IAD)
  • San Salvador, El Salvador (SAL)

South American Baggage Embargoes

American Airlines

  • Cali, Colombia (CLO)
  • Georgetown, Guyana (GEO)
  • Guayaquil, Ecuador (GYE)
  • Lima, Peru (LIM)
  • Paramaribo, Suriname (PBM)
  • Quito, Ecuador (UIO)
  • San Andres Island, Colombia (ADZ)

Caribbean Airlines

  • Caracas, Venezuela

Delta Air Lines

  • Quito, Ecuador (UIO)


  • Ecuador
  • Guyana
  • Peru

United Airlines

  • Quito, Ecuador (UIO)

European Baggage Embargoes


  • London, United Kingdom

Oceanic Baggage Embargoes

United Airlines

  • Auckland, New Zealand (AKL)
  • Melbourne, Australia (MEL)
  • Sydney, Australia (SYD)

African Baggage Embargoes

Delta Air Lines

  • Lagos, Nigeria (LOS)

United Airlines

  • Accra, Ghana (ACC)
  • Johannesburg, South Africa (JNB)
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