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      American Airlines Baggage Fees, Allowance, & Policy (2022)

      Natasha Gabrielle
      American Airlines Baggage Fees

      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:

      Personal Items

      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.

      Carry-on Baggage

      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.

      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:

      American Airlines (AA) Checked Baggage Charges

      Source: AmericanAirlines.com (Screenshot taken: December 4, 2021)

      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.

      American Airlines (AA) Oversize Bags Fees

      Source: AmericanAirlines.com (Screenshot taken: December 4, 2021)

      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.

      American Airlines (AA) Overweight Bags Fees

      Source: AmericanAirlines.com (Screenshot taken: December 7, 2021)

      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)
      • Explosives
      • Flammable liquids or solids
      • Some household items (bleach, aerosols, insecticides, drain cleaners, etc.) 
      • Hoverboards 
      • Marijuana 
      • 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.

      Special Items:

      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:

      Special ItemDescription
      Audio or visual equipment$50 per piece per one-way journey, no overweight or oversized fees apply
      Human remainsCremated remains count as your carry-on bag
      Infant seats or child restraint devicesStrollers need to be checked at the ticket counter if it’s large, non-collapsible or over 20 pounds
      Firearms and ammunitionYou can travel domestically with firearms and ammunition but must review the rules
      Mobility devicesWheelchairs, braces, and other mobility devices don’t count towards your checked bag allowance
      Musical instrumentsSmaller 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
      SpeakersYou 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

      Sports Equipment:

      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
      • Bicycles
      • Bowling balls 
      • Camping equipment
      • Curling equipment 
      • Fencing equipment
      • Golf clubs 
      • Oars and paddles
      • Parachutes
      • Skateboards 
      • 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.

      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 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 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: 

      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 World Elite 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® 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. 

      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. 

      CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® 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. 

      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 airline of choice once per 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.  

      Military Members

      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.

      FAQ

      Can I bring a free carry-on bag when flying with American Airlines?

      Travelers can bring one personal item and one carry-on bag when flying with American Airlines. Bags must meet all size and weight restrictions.

      Does American Airlines offer free checked bags?

      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.

      How much does American Airlines charge for baggage?

      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.

      Can you pay for checked bags before you get to the airport?

      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.

      Is there a way to get free bags when flying with American Airlines?

      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.

      Does a backpack count as a personal item on an American Airlines flight?

      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 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.

      Natasha Gabrielle Headshot

      By Natasha Gabrielle

      Natasha has been a freelance writer since 2015. She specializes in writing travel and credit card rewards content. When not busy writing, she’s either dreaming up her next credit card rewards redemption or traveling the globe. Her goal is to encourage more people to experience the world around them while making smart money choices.