The baggage policies for award flights are the same as paid fares. Economy class flights within North America are usually subject to a checked baggage fee, while international flights will come with one free bag. Travelling in premium classes typically grants two free bags or more.
On award tickets with one or more partner airlines, the baggage policy conforms to that of the airline operating the longest segment within the itinerary.
Airlines’ baggage policies apply the same way regardless of whether you booked your ticket with points or with cash. So if you redeem miles for a domestic flight within Canada or a flight to the US in economy class, you’ll still have to pay the ~$30 checked baggage fee (unless you have additional airline status).
On international itineraries, virtually all airlines give passengers one free checked bag. Meanwhile, for business class or First Class travel, you can expect to receive a baggage allowance of two or even three free checked bags.
If your international itinerary consists of a mix of airline partners, then the overall baggage allowance is dictated by the airline operating the longest segment (typically the “overwater” segment). So if you’re flying domestically on Air Canada before connecting onto a Swiss flight to Europe, then you won’t have to pay for your checked bag even though it’s a domestic flight, since your overall itinerary counts as an international one.
If you need to double-check, all the baggage information should be included in the confirmation email that you received from your frequent flyer program when booking the ticket.
Last updated 17 November 2018. Any questions? Contact me.