American Airlines Baggage Fees Guide (Checked, International, Military) [2019]

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. 

American Airlines is a huge airline just like United and Delta, and just like those other legacy carriers it comes with its downsides like baggage fees. 

In this article, I’ll discuss the specific American Airlines baggage restrictions and fees for carry-ons, checked bags, and international flights and show you some ways to avoid these fees. I’ll also talk about special circumstances such as for overweight baggage, pet policies, and military privileges.

Interested in finding out the hottest travel credit cards for this month? Click here to check them out! 


What are American Airlines baggage fees?

AA allows one free personal item and carry-on luggage but charges checked baggage fees depending on how many pieces of luggage you want to be checked and the destination you’re going to.

I will go into detail below. 


How can I avoid AA baggage fees?

You can avoid AA baggage fees in several different ways. 

AAdvantage and Oneworld elite status

American Airlines has four tiers in its loyalty program called AAdvantage. Each tier offers some type of checked baggage fees that are waived. Each one has different requirements and the checked bag(s) fees waived, note Oneworld status holders from other airlines don’t need to worry about EQM, EQS, and EQD as those are for AAdvantage status.

AAdvantage Gold / Oneworld Ruby

  • 25,000 EQMs
  • 30 EQSs
  • $3,000 EQDs
  • 1 bag fee waived

AAdvantage Platinum / Oneworld Sapphire

  • 50,000 EQMs
  • 60 EQSs
  • $6,000 EQDs
  • 2 bags fees waived

AAdvantage Platinum Pro / Oneworld Sapphire

  • 75,000 EQMs
  • 90 EQSs
  • $9,000 EQDs
  • 2 bags fees waived

AAdvantage Executive Platinum / Oneworld Emerald

  • 100,000 EQMs
  • 120 EQSs
  • $15,000 EQDs
  • 3 bags fees waived

Notice each tier of status gives you a certain baggage allowance. 

If you’re an elite, you can save a good amount of money for you and others on the same reservation. That means, if you are an elite and you have others on the same reservation, then you and all other passengers (excluding group reservations) can get the same checked baggage fees waived that your status tier allows.

Fare types

The only fare type that includes bags would be first class or premium economy seats. No true economy fare will include bags and this includes Main Cabin Extra and of course Basic Economy. 

If you wanted bags included in your ticket price, you must be flying a premium cabin seat.

Flying to certain destinations 

You can avoid AA baggage fees by flying on certain routes. Be sure to check out the chart below which breaks down all of these different destinations and their corresponding prices. 

Credit Cards

American Airlines has many different credit cards that have free baggage as a benefit. There are cards issued by Citi and Barclay bank, both have advantages and disadvantages, but strikingly very similar as well.

However, note the AA co-branded cards listed below will only give you a free bag on domestic itineraries.

Citi issued AA cards

  • Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card
  • CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select card
  • Citi AAdvantage Executive card

Each of the Citi cards mentioned above offers a free bag along with a handful of other benefits like companion tickets if you spend a certain amount or the Executive card offering Admirals Club access when flying AA.

Both Platinum cards offer first checked bag for free for you and up to 4 companions. The Executive card offers the first checked bag for free for you and up to 8 companions. But note that these free checked bags are for domestic itineraries only. 

Barclaycard issued AA cards

  • AAdvantage Aviator Red
  • AAdvantage Aviator Silver
  • AAdvantage Aviator Business

Each of the Barclaycards offers slightly different benefits, but a very minor variance of benefits.

Both the Aviator Red and Business cards offer first checked bag for free for you and up to 4 companions. The Aviator Silver offers the first checked bag for free for you and up to companions.

There are also cards that offer travel credit helping you reduce or eliminate the baggage fees.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the hottest travel rewards credit cards. It earns 3X the points on dining and travel and comes with a host of valuable benefits. One of these perks is a $300 travel credit that can be used on anything that codes as travel, including your baggage fees.

Capital One Venture

One of my favorite cards to use to cover miscellaneous travel purchases is the Capital One Venture card. It’s a popular credit card that comes with an early spending bonus of $500 after you spend $3,000 in the first three months.

It earns 2% cashback on all purchases toward travel, and the points can be used to cover virtually any travel purchase.


American Airlines personal item and carry-on restrictions

Every passenger, no matter what fare or class, can bring on a personal item and carry-on bag when flying American Airlines.

Personal item

When flying AA, you can bring one personal item onboard and can be anything that can go under the seat in front of you or under the ottoman in business or first class. Personal items must not exceed:

  • 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 cm)

Some examples of personal items would be a briefcase, purse, laptop, and small backpack.

Carry-on

You can bring one carry-on item in any class when flying AA. Carry-on items must not exceed:

  • 22 x 14 x 9 inches (56 x 36 x 23 cm) including handles and wheels

Soft-sided garment bags up to 51 inches / 130 cm (length + width + height) can also be taken as your carry-on item.

For your carry-on item, you can bring a suitcase, bag, garment bag, carrycot, pushchair or child seat for infants, and any required mobility aids, such as a wheelchair. Some items will be gate checked for free. As long as it doesn’t exceed the dimensions above, you will be fine.

Musical instruments are also considered a carry-on item and must fit in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you.

All items over the above dimensions will be subject to fees. I will go over special checked item fees below.

Liquids

The same TSA standards apply to American Airlines flights operating within the US, arriving, and departing from the US. You can review a list provided by the TSA of permitted and prohibited items which may be included in carry-on baggage including the 3-1-1 Liquids Rule.


American Airlines checked baggage fees

The prices below are for one-way flights on AA, not roundtrip, and must not exceed 62 in (158 cm) in overall dimensions. Here are all the fees for all the destinations and regions below:

RegionBag 1Bag 2Bag 3Bag 4+
Domestic$30$40$150$200
Mexico$30$40$150$200
Haiti$0$40 ($70 Port-au Prince and Cap-Haitien)$150$200
Caribbean$30$40$150$200
Panama$0$40$150$200
Central America (except Panama)$30 (El Salvador seasonal fee)$40 ($55 seasonal Honduras)$150$200
Brazil$0$0$150$150
Colombia$0 ($30 tickets issued before April 2, 2019 seasonal fee)$55$150$200
Ecuador$0$40$150$200
Venezuela$0$55$150$200
South America (except Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela)$0$0$150$200
Transatlantic$0 ($60 basic economy)$100$200$200
Transpacific$0$0$200$200

Seasonal pricing applies for travel on June 15, 2019 – August 12, 2019 and for tickets issued on/before April 17, 2019 for travel on December 8 – 24, 2019 or for tickets issued on/after April 18, 2019 for travel on December 7, 2019 – January 12, 2020.

These fares seem pretty high, especially confusing as each destination is different, but compared to other airlines, these fees aren’t that different.

Remember, if you have status, you don’t have to pay these fees, even when you are flying on a Basic Economy ticket.

In comparison to other international airlines, United charges the following rates:

  • $30 for the first checked bag
  • $40 for the second checked bag
  • $150 to $200 for the third checked bag ($200 for some international flights)

American Airlines checked baggage allowance

When flying AA, checked bags must not exceed 62″ (158 cm) in overall dimensions and exceed 50 lbs (23 kg) if you are flying economy or premium economy without status.

If you’re flying with Executive Platinum status, Oneworld Emerald status, business or first class your weight limit is 70 lbs (32 kg.)


American Airlines excess checked baggage fee

Overweight bags and/or bags that exceed the dimensions will receive an extra fee.

Oversize bags

Larger than 62 in (158 cm). Won’t accept checked bags over 126 in (320 cm.)

  • Between U.S., Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Canada: $200
  • Mexico, Caribbean, Central and South America: $200
  • Brazil: $150
  • Transatlantic: $150
  • Transpacific: $200

Overweight bags

Won’t accept checked bags over 100 lbs (45 kgs.) First, business, Executive Platinum, and Oneworld Emerald members can check bags up to 70 lbs (32 kg) for free.

  • Between U.S., Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada
    • 51 lbs (23 kg) – 70 lbs (32 kg): $100
    • 71 lbs (32 kg) – 100 lbs (45 kg): $200
  • Mexico, Caribbean, Central and South America
    • 51 lbs (23 kg) – 70 lbs (32 kg): $100
    • 71 lbs (32 kg) – 100 lbs (45 kg): $200 (not accepted to/from Cuba)
  • Brazil
    • 51 lbs (23 kg) – 70 lbs (32 kg): $100
    • 71 lbs (32 kg) – 100 lbs (45 kg): $200
  • Transatlantic
    • 51 lbs (23 kg) – 70 lbs (32 kg): $100
    • 71 lbs (32 kg) – 100 lbs (45 kg): Not accepted
  • Transpacific
    • 51 lbs (23 kg) – 70 lbs (32 kg): $100
    • 71 lbs (32 kg) – 100 lbs (45 kg): $450 (not accepted to/from Australia)

Remeber these fees will go ontop of the regular checked luggage fees.


Sports baggage on American Airlines flights

If you want to bring sporting equipment on your AA flight, you must keep in mind maximum size and weight limitations.

When traveling with any sports equipment, the maximum linear size (length + width + height) is 126 in / 320 cm, and the maximum weight is 70 lbs / 32 kgs, subject to the airplane size and available cargo space.

Any sports item not specifically mentioned and not prohibited will be charged standard checked bag fees up to 50 lbs / 23 kgs and 126 in / 320 cm (oversize fees don’t apply).

  • Antlers
  • Archery
  • Baseball bats 
  • Bicycle
  • Bowling
  • Camping equipment
  • Curling equipment 
  • Fencing equipment 
  • Fishing
  • Golf clubs
  • Hang gliders 
  • Hockey, cricket and lacrosse equipment 
  • Javelin and pole vault 
  • Oars and paddles
  • Parachute
  • Scuba gear (with tanks)
  • Scuba gear (without tanks) 
  • Shooting equipment 
  • Skateboards 
  • Skis (snow/water) and snowboards 
  • Watersports boards 
  • Tennis, badminton, squash, or racquetball
  • Windsurf or kitesurf 

For items not mentioned, you will be subject to standard checked baggage, oversize, and overweight fees.

Please refer to AA’s website for details about each of the sporting equipment above.


Musical instruments in the cabin

When flying AA with musical instruments, they can bring as your carry-on if they are within 22 x 14 x 9 inches (56 x 36 x 23 cm) or can be checked with a maximum size of 150 in (381 cm) and 165 lbs (75 kg.) Anything larger has to be shipped via cargo.

Your bags are subject to baggage excess fees on top of the standard checked baggage fees.

Tips when traveling with musical instruments

Contact AA before your flight to guarantee the aircraft type can handle your baggage size. If you are checking your musical instrument, make sure it’s in a hard-sided case.

If you want to bring your musical instrument onboard without putting it in the overhead bin, you can buy another seat. Contact AA to reserve a second seat for your musical instrument.


American Airlines military baggage policy

AA does have a unique benefit for military personnel besides waived baggage fees. Active duty military personnel and dependents (or up to 2 guests) can access Admirals Clubs for free and all you need is your military ID.

For active duty military personnel and dependents, while traveling on orders, you get 5 checked bags for free. While traveling on leisure, you are able to check 3 bags for free. One must present a military ID at check-in. Learn more here.

If you want to learn more about military benefits for airlines, I suggest reading our article.


When can I check-in bags for American Airlines?

Check-in depends on your departure city. For airports that only serve one AA flight a day, the check-in counters typically only open up 3 hours prior to the scheduled departure.

Bags must be checked in at least 40 minutes prior to the scheduled departure on domestic flights. For international flights, bags must be checked in at least 60 minutes prior to the scheduled departure.


American Airlines pet policy

You can bring your dog or cat in a kennel for your carry-on. You will be subject to a carry-on pet charge and the kennel must fit under the seat in front of you.

You will be subject to a $125 per kennel carry-on charge for your pet at the time of check-in with the agent. Always refer to AA’s own website for pet restrictions as they change frequently requiring you to contact AA before the flight.

If you want to place your pet in the cargo hold. Refer to AA’s policy on checked pets. Make sure you contact reservations 48 hours prior to your departure and it will be $200 per kennel ($150 to/from Brazil.) To learn more about checked pets, click here.


What if my bags are lost or damaged?

If your bags are lost or damaged make sure you report it to American Airlines immediately. It is imperative to make a claim in person or online after the flight.

You can either go to baggage services at the airport or online. Please refer to this link.


What if I lost an item on American Airlines?

You can file a lost and found report with AA here, but it is best to find a crewmember at the airport before leaving and reporting the lost item to the AA ground staff or gate agents.

Make sure you try all these steps here to ensure you find your lost item.


Final word

American Airlines isn’t known for cheap baggage fees, as the fees are almost on every flight. Basic economy also is subject to baggage fees, even on international itineraries. However, if you hold an AA co-branded credit card or have status with AA or Oneworld airline, you can get those baggage fees waived, even for basic economy.

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