Skip to main content

Southwest Airlines Community

Box definition during excess baggage embargo

Explorer C

Trying to determine what is considered a box. This is the embargo notice:


Baggage embargo:
Effective November 14, 2016 - January 14, 2017, Passengers traveling to Belize City (BZE), Havana (HAV), Montego Bay (MBJ), Mexico City (MEX), San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO), Santa Clara (SNU), and Varadero (VRA) will be limited to two checked bags that measure up to 62 linear inches each. Boxes of any size will not be accepted. Service items such as wheelchairs and strollers will be accepted.


Says boxes not accepted. I carry my work tools in a plastic foot locker that is exactly regular 

baggage limit size 62" linear


Wont allow me to post just photo here. 


Looking for verification by southwest, without driving a couple hours each way to the airport.

thank you








Re: Box definition during excess baggage embargo

Explorer C

Spoke briefly with a customer service agent that couldnt answer definately. Now been on hold one hour and 33 seconds.

before she put me back on hold asked me if i could drive 2.5 hrs each way to the airport to ask. 


Re: baggage embargo - not an answer

Explorer A

I await an answer from customer service because I too have this "problem."

There was no embargo when I booked my flight (for next Tuesday) and without this community/your posting, I would have shown up without a clue.

It is a shame and a waste of the phone persons time (and your hour) to not get a real answer.

I shall guess that the airport agent would have restrained by the current company policy posting, and no power to override it.

This was the case for me on American years ago, before they started posting the "Box embargo" months in advance. (SW search gave zero hits because it is baggage, not box.)

They though offered for sale a nylon bag at $45 which the "not a typical suitcase" was able to fit inside.

I can appreciate the airline wanting to limit the increase of checked baggage over Christmas. "Boxes of any size will not be accepted" was not anticipated. The baggage policy must formally and perminately mention an embargo will be in affect and give a range in a non-specific year so people aren't greeted by the same attitude as trying to bring peanut butter past TSA, which ends up in the trash..

Traditional luggage with a handle ONLY

Explorer A

If it is not a suitcase like you see millions carry or roll, then it is a "box". Storeage box, cardboard box Televsion box, cooler, they are banned, eith no exceptions and no recourse except to put the stuff back in your car.


a duffle bag?? That is unknown and won't you be surprised the day of your trip if you guess wrong.


I suggest you try the SW email about coverings. They responded in 6 hours. However, I'm not sure I liked the part about my shoe... (humor for SOL)

Re: Box definition during excess baggage embargo

Retired Community Manager

Hi @Harleyandjet,


Thanks for bringing your question to the Community - this is a really good one, and I'm sure you aren't the only one who has saught clarification on this topic. 


The "no boxes" language is meant to refer to anything that wouldn't be considered a traditional piece of luggage. In some cases, this might require the airport to make a judgement call. If your footlocker can be carried similar to the way you'd carry a duffel bag or carryon luggage, it should be acceptable. 


One thing to keep in mind is that because the footlocker is plastic, it might be conditionally accepted (this means that you acknowledge that the footlocker could incur damage during the regular hustle and bustle of transport and that Southwest Airlines does not accept liability for that damage). 


I hope that information is helpful - please reach out if you've still got questions!


Re: Box definition during excess baggage embargo

Explorer C

I was just told by an agent at the 800 number that any kind of plastic tote or cooler is considered a "box" and will be refused.  The only exception is a brand-new flat-screen TV that has not been opened.  Apparently they'll take that.


I've been taking totes to international destinations for years on other airlines with no problem before and now, at the last minute, am being told that I have to pack in something else.


Can I sew up a nylon zippered bag that the cooler or tote can fit into and then have it considered "baggage"???  This just seems silly since the plastic totes are so much sturdier than a soft-sided suitcase.  And I get to leave the totes behind for storage of items there, instead of bringing them back. 


Has anyone tried putting a "soft-sided" nylon bag/suitcase around something like this yet?

Re: Box definition during excess baggage embargo

Explorer A

This may be considered a solution - cancel the reservation and rebook after Jan 16.

There are a number of problems, the first being this thread grouped into 'check-in' forum. When you attempt to check in and the destination is one of the foreign countries, you can hope the agent is not aware of the 'box embargo' (offshoot of 'excess baggage or another mislabel? Box embargo should come up via the search engine but this is not the case) otherwise expect to hit a brick wall. The agent probably does not have any latitude to alter policy.


Alternative solution - return the non-traditional luggage to the vechicle you arrived in if you have time. I do not suggest you leave your box near a tash receptical because you know who is going to take a very keen interest in it and probably make everyone go through security again and thousands of people will be delayed.


While one boardie (above) was told that TV's were OK, I did not address TV's during my phone call, nor read that in the policy, or private email.


What was not addressed anywhere is a bicycle which standardly comes in a box. Bicycles are not mentioned except in the place that says you can bring one. (more below)


I could not get an answer as to IF Southwest was going to be selling zippered nylon bags with a handle which can accomidate a standard box, a cooler, or a tool box. Said sale might get your luggage to the destination, but you are out the $. If the agent considers a TV in a box a box, the bag would have to have rather unusual measurments.


There is one upside to all this, or two. No person or luggage may have to be left behind because of more luggage than they can handle. There is now an available seat on my Tuesday flight. Customers who continue to be customers will know for next year, although the dates will change slightly.


I should mention that just as a 'box embargo' search is useless, so is "bicycle." However, under sporting goods is this


Bicycles (defined as nonmotorized and having a single seat), including Bike Friday and Co-Pilot, properly packed in a hard-sided bicycle box that fall within the dimensions and weight limits established for normal Checked Baggage, (i.e., 62 inches or less in overall dimensions and less than 50 pounds in weight). Pedals and handlebars must be removed and packaged in protective materials so as not to be damaged by or cause damage to other Baggage. Bicycles packaged in cardboard or soft-sided cases will be transported as conditionally accepted items.

(end quote)


WILL BE, with the word "conditionally" refering to 'subject to damage' and not on seasonal or whim or logic.


PS much text was added but lost when I pushed the post button. I have no problem with this post being deleted if it is not helpful but it one person inside SW reads it, some good can come from my efforts.

Re: Box definition during excess baggage embargo

Explorer A

Post script to the above. According to the verbal instructions given to the phone CS person I spoke to, a nylon bag with a zipper and a handle would solve the box embargo situation. No suck mention was made in the email I originally received. Why was that?