American Airlines Baggage Fees: What To Expect

Established more than 90 years ago, American Airlines is one of the largest and most popular airlines in the United States. With hubs in Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago, New York, and beyond, millions of passengers trust American Airlines to get to destinations across the country and across the globe.

If you’re thinking about flying with American Airlines, you’ll want to plan accordingly when it comes to your baggage and fees. While American Airlines certainly has a lot to offer its passengers, their baggage policies and fees can sometimes seem a bit confusing. That’s because their fees and policies can vary greatly depending on the fare you book, as well as your destination. Not flying American Airlines? Check out our JetBlue baggage fees.

American Airlines Checked and Carry-On Allowances

Fortunately, with a little preparation and research, you’ll know exactly what to expect when it comes to both your checked and carry-on bags while flying with American Airlines. If you still have questions after reading this, you can always contact American Airlines directly for specific answers.

Checked Bag Allowances and Fees

The amount you’ll pay to check a bag on American Airlines will vary based on the specific type of fare you book. For Premium Economy and Business fares, your first two checked bags fly for free, with additional bags ranging from $150 to $200 each. All First-Class fares receive the first two checked bags free on two-cabin aircrafts and the first three bags free on three-cabin aircrafts, with additional bags starting at $150 apiece.

The amount of additional bags you can check on an American Airlines flight will vary based on your destination. For domestic flights and Transatlantic/Transpacific flights, passengers may check up to 10 bags. For flights to Mexico, the Caribbean, Brazil, and some other destinations, there is a five-bag limit. All checked bags on American Airlines flights must not exceed 50 pounds (this is pretty standard across the airline industry) and may not be larger than 62 linear inches total.

Carry-On Allowances and Fees

American Airlines allows passengers to bring one personal item and one standard carry-on item free of charge. Personal items should measure no greater than 18″ x 14″ x 8″, whereas standard carry-ons may be no larger than 22″ x 14″ x 9″. A personal carry-on should be able to be stowed in the seat in front of you during your flight, but if it is too large, you may be asked to place it in an overhead bin. All standard carry-ons should be stowed in an overhead bin for the duration of the flight.

What About Infants, Strollers, and Baby Gear?

If you’re traveling with a lap infant under the age of two, you may also bring along one diaper bag per child at no additional cost. This bag does not count towards your carry-on allowance. If you have a stroller and/or car seat, it may be checked at the gate free of charge. Please be aware that any strollers weighing more than 20 pounds must be checked at the ticket counter and not at the gate.

Charges For Additional Bags and Overweight Luggage

All checked bags on American Airlines flights must not exceed 50 pounds (this is pretty standard across the airline industry) and may not be larger than 62 linear inches total. Measurements include any handles, wheels, or other attached accessories—so be sure to measure and plan accordingly.

If any of your checked bags weighs more than 50 pounds, you will be charged an overweight fee in accordance with the actual weight. Bags weighing between 51 and 70 pounds are subject to a $100 fee, whereas bags weighing more than 70 pounds may result in a $200 fee. Bags weighing more than 71 pounds are not permitted at all on Transatlantic flights, and overweight bags flying to some destinations (including Japan and China) may be subject to larger fees of up to $450.

Oversized bags may also incur additional fees. For checked bags larger than 62 linear inches, expect to pay between $150 and $200 per bag in additional charges.

Saving On American Airlines Baggage Fees (Or Avoiding Them Altogether)

Looking to cut down on your baggage fees when flying with American Airlines? Consider these tips.

Get Reimbursed By Your Credit Card Company

Check with your credit card company to see if they offer any type of reimbursement for airline baggage fees. Some major credit card companies, such as American Express and Chase, offer this as a perk with some of their cards. If your credit card offers this, you will typically need to pay for your baggage fees using the card and then submit a request for reimbursement or account credit through your credit card company.

American Airlines offers their own credit cards that specifically offer free checked bags. One example of the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard, which allows for one free bag for the card holder and up to four additional passengers on the same itinerary.

Book an Eligible Fare

Many of American Airlines’ fares come with your first one or two checked bags included. If you’re thinking about flying with American Airlines, it may actually save you money to pay a little more for a fare that includes checked bags. Main cabin fares, for example, do not include free checked bags. As a result, you’ll end up paying anywhere from $30 to $60 for your first checked bag, depending on your destination. Second bags can range between $40 and $100, so keep this in mind as you decide which fare is best for you.

Explore Waivers and Exclusions

Active members of the United States military and their dependents can fly with their first five checked bags for free if flying on military order. For personal travel, military members can still receive up to three free checked bags. Just be sure to provide proof of current active military status before your flight to take advantage of these benefits.

American Airlines Baggage Policies: Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about American Airlines baggage fees and policies.

Can a backpack count as a personal item?

Yes, you may count a backpack as a personal carry-on item so long as it meets size requirements set forth by American Airlines. Specific measurements for your backpack should be no greater than 18″ x 14″ x 8″, including any handles or luggage wheels. If your backpack is bigger than this, it will need to count as your standard-size carry on and be stowed in an overhead bin. If your backpack is small enough to count as a personal item, you may still bring an additional standard-size carry-on as well.

What are American Airlines’ overweight and oversized bag fees?

Any checked bags weighing more than 50 pounds will be subject to American Airlines overweight baggage fees, which can vary depending on destination and bag weight. Bags weighing more than 50 pounds but less than 71 pounds will be subject o a $100 fee in most cases, whereas heavier bags will be subject to a $200 or greater fee.

You can avoid overweight and oversize bag fees with American Airlines by using a luggage scale to weigh your bags before you leave for the airport. If your bag is slightly overweight, consider leaving a few items at home or moving some of them into a carry-on that meets TSA rules. There are no official weight limits for carry-on luggage with American Airlines.

Oversized bags (those measuring greater than 62 linear inches) will be subject to fees of anywhere from $150 to $200.

How do I pre-pay for baggage fees?

You can save the time and hassle of paying for baggage fees at the airport by pre-paying online. You can do this on the American Airlines app or using their website when you check in, which can be done up to four hours in advance of your flight. Be aware that if you’re checking more than three bags for your flight, you’ll need to pay at the airport. You can pre-pay for your luggage using a credit card or wait and pay cash/credit card at the airport.

What if I have a specialty item?

If you’ll be traveling with sporting equipment, musical instruments, or other larger items, it will be in your best interest to contact American Airlines directly before your flight. You may be able to avoid overweight or oversize bag fees for certain items provided that you package them correctly.