American Airlines Baggage Fees, Allowance, & Policy (June 2023)
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of our partner offers may have expired.
Before booking a flight, it’s an excellent plan to check the baggage allowance. Each airline has its own baggage rules, and these rules can vary based on the fare type, bag type, and destination. If you’re not careful, you may end up having to pay baggage fees or may pay an extra fee if you bring overweight or oversized bags. If you’re planning to book an American Airlines flight soon, you’ll want to understand the airline’s baggage rules and baggage fees. This American Airlines baggage fees guide will outline the essential details that you need to know:
No matter which ticket fare you purchase, you can bring one personal item when flying with American Airlines. This personal item must meet the size requirements and must fit under the seat in front of you. Examples of personal items include a purse, a small handbag, and a small backpack. Dimensions shouldn’t exceed 18 x 14 x 8 inches.
Note: You can bring one diaper bag per child, and these bags don’t count as a personal item or carry-on. Additionally, soft-sided cooler bags with breast milk, child safety seats, strollers, and medical or mobility devices don’t count as personal or carry-on items. Each ticketed passenger is allowed one car seat and one stroller, which can be checked at the gate for free.
You can bring one carry-on bag when flying with American Airlines no matter which ticket fare you purchase. If you plan to bring a carry-on bag, you’ll want to make sure that it meets American Airlines’ size requirements. Bag dimensions shouldn’t exceed 22 x 14 x 9 inches, including handles and wheels. Your carry-on bag must also fit in the sizer at the airport.
The Top American Airlines Credit Cards for Checked Bags and Status
Sign up for an American Airlines or General Travel credit card to get free checked bags and earn status quicker. Here are our three favorites:
– Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® – ($450 annual fee; 1st Checked Bag Free for the Cardholder and up to 8 Companions)
– American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp® – (No Annual Fee; No Free Checked Bags But Earn Loyalty Points and Other Benefits)
– The Platinum Card® from American Express – ($695 annual fee – see rates & fees) – Up to $200 Airline Fee Credit per calendar year on incidental fees at a qualifying airline, which includes baggage.
Checked Baggage Fees and Allowance
On most flights, you can check up to ten bags. This includes domestic, transatlantic, and transpacific American Airlines flights. If your American Airlines flight includes travel through Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, South America, or Brazil, you can only check up to five bags.
It’s important to know that most domestic American Airlines flights don’t include a free checked bag if you’re flying with a basic economy or main cabin ticket. If you’re traveling in these fare classes within the United States, you can expect to pay $30 for your first checked bag. But the cost you will pay depends on how many bags you plan to check and your destination.
Premium economy, first-class, and business class fliers are eligible for increased baggage allowance in most cases. For most flights, premium economy, first-class, and business class passengers get their first checked bag free.
Here’s a chart that better explains the cost for checked baggage for basic economy and main cabin customers:
As you can see, some destinations include a free checked bag, while others don’t. It’s good practice to re-check these fees before you buy a flight.
Checked Baggage Weight and Size Restrictions
You need to make sure that you understand the weight and size restrictions for checked bags.
Checked bags must meet the following restrictions for all regions, except to or from Australia or New Zealand. Otherwise, additional fees may apply:
Dimensions (L+W+H): 62 inches
Weight: 50 pounds
Weight for first-class and business-class fares: 70 pounds for complimentary bags and 50 pounds for excess charged bags
Checked bags must meet the following restrictions for all flights to and from Australia or New Zealand. Otherwise, additional fees may apply:
Dimensions (L+W+H): 62 inches
Weight: 70 pounds for complimentary bags and 50 pounds for excess charged bags
Oversized Bag Fees
If your bag is oversized, you’ll pay additional fees. Here’s a look at the extra fees you’ll be charged depending on where you’re traveling. These fees are charged per person, each way.
Overweight Bag Fees
If your bag is heavier than allowed, you’ll pay additional fees. Here’s a look at the extra fees you’ll be charged depending on where you’re traveling. These fees are charged per person, each way.
Note: Checked bags over 100 pounds aren’t accepted on American Airlines flights. Business-class and domestic first-class passengers can check up to 2 bags up to 70 pounds at no extra cost.
Important Baggage Rules
Here are some important rules to be aware of.
Restricted Items and Items That Must Be Checked
You’ll want to ensure that you’re not packing any restricted items. The following items are prohibited by the TSA both in your carry-on bag and checked baggage:
- Alcoholic beverages over 70 percent by volume
- Some batteries (damaged batteries, automobile, boat or aircraft batteries)
- Defense sprays (mace, tear gas, pepper spray)
- Flammable liquids or solids
- Some household items (bleach, aerosols, insecticides, drain cleaners, etc.)
- Mobility devices
- Pressurized containers and compressed gasses
- Samsung Galaxy Note 7
- Self-heating meals
The following items are only allowed in checked baggage:
- Alcoholic beverages under 70 percent by volume
- Cutting instruments (knives, box cutters, straight razors, etc.)
- Electronic cigarettes
- Firearms or ammunition
- Gasoline-powered tools
- Lighters and matches
- Self-inflating life jackets
- Some scissors and tools
The following items are allowed with restrictions: Drones, dry ice, smart bags, some scissors and tools, and some batteries. Animal products aren’t allowed when traveling to/from EU destinations.
Liquids: For carry-on bags, liquid items must be stored in 3.4-ounce containers or smaller and then placed in a clear, plastic, one-quart zip-top bag. For checked baggage, you must store liquid items in 16-ounce containers or smaller, and you must not bring more than 70 ounces in total.
Special Items and Sports Equipment
Here is important information regarding flying with special items and sports equipment.
There are rules in place for special items. When bringing special items, you must follow the weight and size restrictions. Most items can weigh up to 100 pounds (with some exceptions) and 126 inches (L+W+H).
The following are considered special items, and the fees or rules that apply to each are listed:
|Audio or visual equipment||$50 per piece per one-way journey, no overweight or oversized fees apply|
|Human remains||Cremated remains count as your carry-on bag|
|Infant seats or child restraint devices||Strollers need to be checked at the ticket counter if it’s large, non-collapsible or over 20 pounds|
|Firearms and ammunition||You can travel domestically with firearms and ammunition but must review the rules|
|Mobility devices||Wheelchairs, braces, and other mobility devices don’t count towards your checked bag allowance|
|Musical instruments||Smaller instruments can be brought as a carry-on item depending on space and as long as they fit in the overhead bin or below the seat in front of you, Travelers can also have the option to pay for an additional feel for larger musical instruments and bring them on board, Instruments may also be checked for a fee and must meet specific size and weight restrictions|
|Speakers||You can travel with a maximum of two small portable speakers or one soundbar for personal use, the total will be calculated between carry-on and checked bags|
There are rules for sports equipment and specific rules vary by the type of item. When bringing special items, you must follow the weight and size restrictions. Most items can weigh up to 70 pounds (with some exceptions) and 126 inches (L+W+H).
You can check the following sports equipment and pay standard checked bag fees. Oversize and overweight fees may apply to some items if they’re oversized or heavy:
- Archery equipment
- Baseball bats
- Bowling balls
- Camping equipment
- Curling equipment
- Fencing equipment
- Golf clubs
- Oars and paddles
- Tennis, badminton, squash, or racquetball
Other sports equipment can be checked, but additional fees apply. Here are some examples:
- Antlers for $150
- Hang glider with a suitable case for $150
- Scuba gear for $150 per piece
- Windsurf gear for $150 per two eligible items
Other eligible sports equipment items not listed above can also be checked, but there may be more specific fee guidance depending on what you bring. Be sure to check the specific requirements for special items and sports equipment to know what to expect.
Damaged and Delayed Baggage
If your bag is delayed, an agent at the airport will give you a 13-character file reference number to use when filing your claim. American Airlines will reimburse you for items you need immediately while away. Within 30 days of the delay, plan to provide the following:
- Your 13-character reference number
- A copy of your ticket receipt and baggage claim checks
- Original, dated, itemized receipts
If you notice damage to your bag, be sure to report this to an agent at the airport before leaving the airport or contact American Airlines within 24 hours for domestic flights and seven days for international flights. You’ll be given a 13-character file reference number to use when filing your claim. You’ll need to fill out a Passenger Property Questionnaire and include your 13-character file reference number when you report the damage.
Note: American Airlines’ liability for loss, delay, or damage to bags for domestic flights is limited to $3,800.
Further Reading: What to Do if Your Airline Delays, Loses, or Damages Your Bag
How to Get Free Bags
You can take advantage of free checked bags when flying with American Airlines if you’re strategic. In addition to buying a higher-class ticket, there are several other ways to do this. Check out the information below to learn more:
American Airlines Elite Status
You may qualify for free bag perks if you have elite status through the American Airlines AAdvantage® loyalty program. Don’t forget to consider this when booking your tickets. Your status level will determine how many bags you can check for free. Here’s a breakdown of baggage perks by elite status level:
AAdvantage® Gold: 1 free checked bag
AAdvantage® Platinum: 2 free checked bags
AAdvantage® Platinum Pro: 3 free checked bags
AAdvantage® Executive Platinum: 3 free checked bags
oneworld® Elite Status
Travelers with oneworld® elite status are eligible for free checked baggage when flying with American Airlines. Here’s a breakdown:
oneworld® Ruby: 1 free checked bag
oneworld® Sapphire: 2 free checked bags
oneworld® Emerald: 3 free checked bags
Free Bags with Eligible Credit Cards
If you use the right travel credit card to pay for your American Airlines tickets, you may be able to check a bag for free. It depends on which card you have. Here’s a look at what you can expect:
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive Mastercard® : With this credit card, you and up to eight travel companions on the same reservation will get your first checked bag free on domestic American Airlines flights.
American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp® : Unfortunately, this card does not offer free checked bags, but it does offer numerous benefits if you regularly fly American Airlines. It has no annual fee, and it earns up to 2 AAdvantage® miles per dollar spent depending on the category.
The Platinum Card® from American Express: While this isn’t an American Airlines branded card, it does include a perk that can help you cover American Airlines baggage fees. This card offers a yearly $200 airline fee credit. You’ll need to select your qualifying airline of choice once per calendar year, and then when you use your card for qualifying incidental fees, like in-flight refreshments or checked bag fees, you’ll receive reimbursement in the form of a statement credit up to $200 per year. .
AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®: With this credit card, you and up to four travel companions on the same reservation will get your first checked bag free on all American Airlines-operated flights.
AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver Mastercard®: With this credit card, you and up to eight travel companions on the same reservation will get your first checked bag free on domestic American Airlines flights.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®: With this credit card, you and up to four travel companions on the same reservation will get your first checked bag free on domestic American Airlines flights.
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®: With this credit card, you and up to four travel companions on the same reservation will get your first checked bag free on domestic American Airlines flights.
Related: Best Airline Credit Cards
American Airlines offers extra perks to active U.S. military members and their companions. Depending on your destination, you and your companions may be able to bring extra bags. You must show your military ID to use these benefits.
Active U.S. military members traveling on orders can check up to 5 complimentary bags. Bags can be up to 100 pounds and 126 inches (L+W+H).
Active U.S. military members traveling for leisure can check up to 3 complimentary bags. Bags can be up to 50 pounds and 62 inches (L+W+H).
Now you know what to expect when packing your bags for your upcoming American Airlines flights.
Travelers can bring one personal item and one carry-on bag when flying with American Airlines. Bags must meet all size and weight restrictions.
Unless you qualify for special free baggage perks or are flying in premium economy, business-class, or first-class, you likely won’t be able to check a bag for free. Basic economy and main cabin tickets for most destinations require passengers to pay baggage fees.
Baggage fees vary by destination and what you pay depends on how many bags you’re bringing. You can expect to pay $30 for your first bag when flying domestically in basic economy or main cabin.
You have the option to pay for checked baggage on select flights (many domestic flights for example). If the option is available, you can pay during the online check-in process. You can check up to three bags this way by using the mobile app or American Airlines website.
Yes, there are several ways to get free bags. Buying a higher-class ticket can allow you to get a free bag. Another way is to use an eligible credit card to book your tickets. Several credit cards offer free baggage perks. You may be eligible for free baggage benefits if you have elite status with American Airlines or oneworld® elite status. Finally, active U.S. military members get free baggage perks.
Small backpacks with dimensions 18 x 14 x 8 inches are allowed as personal items.
The Vacationer’s Final Thoughts
Familiarize yourself with American Airlines baggage fees and other policies (including how to cancel or change an American Airlines flight) before your flight. Different tickets and cabins have different allowances, so it is important to be aware of what your ticket allows before arriving at the airport. To save money, see if your American Airlines elite status or your credit cards offer free bags.
For further reading, see our Delta Air Lines Baggage Fees, Spirit Airlines Baggage Fees, and United Airlines Baggage Fees guides.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
All information about the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®, AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver Mastercard®, Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® have been collected independently by The Vacationer. The AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®, AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver Mastercard®, Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® are no longer available through The Vacationer.
Get The Vacationer Newsletter
Get highlights of the most important news delivered to your email inbox