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American Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the industry, operating in over 50 countries with thousands of flights each day. However, if you enjoy flying with American Airlines, you need to be aware of the baggage fees, which can have a massive impact on your vacation costs.
What is American Airlines’ Baggage Policy?
American Airlines applies bag fees at check in each way and they are non refundable. This even applies if you purchase or receive an upgrade that may include free checked bags. If your flight is domestic, Transpacific or Transatlantic, you can check up to 10 bags onto your American Airlines operated flight. If you’re traveling to, from or through South America, Central America or the Caribbean, you can check up to five bags.
American Airlines calculates the bag size limits using the total outside dimensions of each of the bags. For all regions, the bags should have a total length plus width plus height measurement of 62 inches or 158 centimeters.
American Airlines also has a list of prohibited items for both checked and carry on bags. This includes drones, firearms, flammable items, cutting instruments and stun guns.
How Much Are American Airlines’ Baggage Fees?
The American Airlines’ baggage fees can vary according to your region of travel and the number of bags you’re checking. The lowest baggage fee for your first checked bag is $30 and this applies to domestic, and most international destinations, but the first bag on Transpacific flights is free of charge.
The major differences in price occur on bags two to four plus. The fees at the time of this article are:
There are some exceptions to the pricing for the above regions, such as Haiti, so it is important to check the specific fees for your flight before you book.
What is American Airlines’ Carry On Baggage Policy?
As with most airlines, the baggage fees on American Airlines only apply to your checked bags. You are entitled to a carry-on bag and a personal item such as a purse.
Providing it fits in the overhead bin, a musical instrument would be classified as a carry-on item. If you have strollers, mobility devices, or diaper bags, these are permitted and will not be counted towards your carry-on allowance.
Your carry-on bag should not exceed the dimensions of 22x14x9 including handles and wheels. However, American Airlines does have a sizer at the airport, so you can check if your bag fits and determine if you need to check it.
This is because items larger than this size will not fit in an overhead bin or under your seat, which means that they need to be checked. American Airlines recommends labeling your carry on bags as you would your checked bags, just in case there is a problem when you arrive to check in.
You can also take a soft sided garment bag as your carry on item provided it is smaller than 51 inches in length plus width plus height. If you’re traveling with a pet, the container or kennel will count as your carry on, but a carry on pet fee may also apply.
Your personal item should not exceed 18x14x8 as it must be able to fit under the seat in front of you.
If you book through AA website, you can check out your baggage fees at the bottom of your order summary:
How to Save on AA Baggage Fees
If you are planning on flying with American Airlines, there are a number of ways that can help you to save on the baggage fees. These include:
1. Get a AA Credit Card
We’ve already discussed some credit cards that offer free checked bags on American Airlines flights, but there are others. If you’re already considering a new credit card, keep an eye out for airline cards that offer free checked bags for you and your travel companions.
In addition to saving on baggage fees, you can also enjoy some great travel perks such as discounts or cash back on in flight purchases, priority boarding, or companion passes.
2. Join a Loyalty Program
The AAdvantage American Airlines frequent flyer program is free to join and regular travelers can rack up some serious miles.
In addition to miles per dollar when you buy airfare with your basic membership, there are Loyalty Points that can help you work towards elite status.
These status levels provide eligibility for benefits such as free checked bags. You will need Gold status to get this perk, but the higher your status, the more benefits and baggage benefits you will get, generally.
For example, if you have Platinum elite status, you’ll receive three checked bags for free.
3. Stick to Carry On Packing
American Airlines allows you to travel with a carry on for free even if you’re using a Basic Economy ticket. So, if you can pack light, you can travel without needing to pay any checked bag fees.
You’ll need to make sure that your carry is within the maximum dimensions and weight, so it can fit in the overhead bin.
However, with packing cubes and other packing hacks, it is possible to fit sufficient clothing and accessories in one smaller bag rather than needing to bring a massive suitcase.
4. Upgrade to a Premium Ticket
If you want to enjoy an enhanced travel experience, consider booking a Premium ticket. This level also allows you to have two checked bags for free.
There are some exclusions, but generally Premium Economy ticket holders can have two complimentary bags, while Business Class allows two free bags regardless of destination. If you upgrade to First Class, you can have two free bags on two cabin airplanes and three on three cabin craft.
5. Bring Your Military Credentials
If you’re active in the U.S Military, you and your dependents can enjoy up to five free bags when you’re traveling on orders. There are also up to three complimentary bags when you’re traveling for personal reasons. Just be sure to carry your military ID card to verify your eligibility.
American Airlines Baggage Restrictions
During busy travel periods, American Airlines does place limitations on checked bags to some destinations. There are seasonal and year round limitations which mean that you may only bring two bags on Domestic First flights, two bags on Business, two bags on Premium Economy and three bags on Flagship First. Unless there are any other restrictions, you will still be able to bring one carry on item and one personal item.
When you’re traveling to destinations with bag limitations, you will not be able to travel with overweight items, oversized items, excess bags or boxes such as containers, plastic tubs or coolers.
The Seasonal Limitations typically apply between May and August for the Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico. Between July and September, there are limitations for select cities for flights to the Caribbean. Additionally, between late November and mid January, limitations may apply to cities in Central America, the Caribbean, and South America.
How Much is the Overweight Baggage Fee?
American Airlines does not accept checked bags that weigh more than 100 pounds or 45 kilograms. The standard weight for American Airlines flights is 51 pounds at no additional cost, but some classifications allow up to 70 pounds. The overweight baggage fee depends on the region.
- On domestic flights along with flights between U.S, Canada, U.S Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean is $100 for bags weighing 51 pounds to 70 pounds and $200 for 71 pounds to 100 pounds. However, the exception to this is Cuba, where the fee is $200 for bags 51 pounds to 70 pounds and heavier bags are not accepted.
- If you’re traveling to Europe, Qatar or Israel, the overweight baggage fee is $100, but bags over 70 pounds are not accepted.
- New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, China and South Korea destinations have a $100 overweight baggage fee up to 70 pounds and the fee is $450 for bags up to 100 pounds, except for Australia which does not accept heavier bags.
Credit Cards that Give You Free Checked Bags with American Airlines
If you’re searching for a new credit card, you may appreciate cards that offer free checked bags with American Airlines. These options include:
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® has a tiered reward structure weighted towards eligible American Airlines purchases, but you can earn miles on all your purchases. You’ll also earn loyalty points for eligible miles.
However, the card also offers a first checked bag fee on domestic flights for you and up to eight companions on the same reservation. Other card perks include no foreign transaction fees, discounts on in flight purchases and Admirals Club membership for you and two guests or immediate family members traveling with you.
This is a superb credit card choice for those who are loyal to American Airlines and enjoy some nice perks when they travel.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® is a little more flexible. As with the Executive World Elite card, you can enjoy no foreign transaction fees and free first checked bags on domestic AA flights for you and up to four travel companions on the same reservation.
However, the reward structure is a little more generous, as you can enjoy a higher reward rate on eligible American Airlines purchases and for every dollar you spend at restaurants and gas stations.
Additionally, there is an American Airlines flight discount when you meet the minimum annual spend requirement and renew your card. Cardholders can also get savings on in flight purchases and priority boarding.
American Airlines AAdvantage® Aviator™ Silver Credit Card
The American Airlines AAdvantage® Aviator™ Silver Credit Card has a tiered reward structure weighted towards eligible American Airlines purchases, but you can also earn a higher reward rate on hotels and car rental purchases with a base rate on all your other purchases.
There is no limit to the number of miles you can earn and there is a Loyalty Points bonus if you meet the qualifying spend during each status qualification period.
The card does have an annual fee but in addition to one free checked bag for you and up to eight travel companions, there is also preferred boarding, Global Entry application fee credit, statement credit for AA inflight food and beverage purchases up to a daily limit and anniversary WiFi credit.
You can also qualify for an AA companion certificate each year if you meet the annual spending requirement.
American Airlines allows passengers to prepay their baggage fees online or using the mobile app for select domestic and other flights. Thai can only be done up to four hours before departure.
At some airport ticket counters, you can pay for your baggage fees with cash or check.
The checked baggage fee depends on your destination and the number of bags. Check the table we covered earlier in this article.
This depends on your flight destination, ticket level and membership status with loyalty programs.
This depends on the size of your backpack. Your carry on needs to be able to fit in the overhead bin and your backpack should be small enough to fit under the seat in front of you.
Your carry on baggage must not only meet the dimension requirements but should also weigh less than 40 pounds.
Eligible members can enjoy a first checked bag for free, but it depends on your membership status.
Yes, if you’re an active military service personnel, you can qualify for free bags for you and your immediate family whether you’re traveling on orders or for personal reasons. However, you will need to show your Military ID Card to qualify.
There are a number of ways to avoid baggage fees including AAdvantage credit cards, loyalty programs, only traveling with carry on baggage or purchasing an upgraded ticket.