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How to get free checked bags on American Airlines

Use credit cards, reach elite status or buy specific flights.

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Score free checked bags on American Airlines by reaching a qualifying tier of its loyalty program. You can also get free checked bags by flying premium fare classes, flying to certain destinations and if you’re active military personnel.

6 ways to get free checked bags

Here’s how to check your luggage without paying a dime.

1. Get an American Airlines credit card.

Four American Airlines cards let you check your first bag free on domestic flights operated by the carrier.

2. Get a card with travel credits.

A general travel card might come with credits you can use to offset baggage fees, in-flight purchases, airport lounge fees and more.

3. Earn American Airlines elite status.

American Airlines’s loyalty program, AAdvantage, has four elite tiers. Each offers one to three complimentary checked bags on American-operated flights.

Free checked bags for American Airlines elites

AAdvantage GoldAAdvantage PlatinumAAdvantage Platinum ProAAdvantage Executive Platinum
1 bag2 bags2 bags3 bags

4. Earn elite status in oneworld

You’ll get free checked bags on American flights as part of oneworld, an airline alliance that includes American Airlines, British Airways, Alaska Airlines, Cathay Pacific and more.

Free checked bags for oneworld elites

oneworld Rubyoneworld Sapphireoneworld Emerald
1 bag2 bags3 bags

5. Fly a premium fare class

When flying Business or Premium Economy with American, you can check two bags at no cost. If you fly first class on a three-cabin aircraft, you can check three bags at no cost. On a two-cabin aircraft, you’re allowed two free checked bags.

6. Visit a qualifying destination

When you fly to eligible destinations, you can check one to two bags free.

Destinations with free checked baggage

Active military members

If you’re an active US military member on personal travel, you can check your first three bags free on each American Airlines flight. If you’re traveling on orders, you and your dependents can each check five bags free.

How much does it normally cost?

These rates apply to bags up to 50 pounds and 62 linear inches more info button on domestic flights.

First bagSecond bagThird bagEach additional bag
$30$40$150$200

On First and Business Class flights, the maximum weight per bag is 70 pounds.

American credit cards that get you free checked bags

Use an American Airlines credit card with a free-checked-bag perk. Be sure to open your card at least seven days prior to your flight to receive the baggage benefit. Also, add your American Airlines AAdvantage number to your reservation at least seven days before your flight.

  • 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 1x miles on all other purchases
  • 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 2x miles at restaurants and gas stations
  • 1x miles on other purchases
  • 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 2x miles on cable and satellite providers, select telecommunications merchants, car rentals and gas station purchases
  • 1x miles on other purchases
  • 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 1x miles on other purchases
  • Preferred boarding
  • In-flight savings
  • Preferred boarding
  • In-flight savings
  • Preferred boarding
  • In-flight savings
  • Savings on in-flight Wi-Fi purchases
  • Admirals Club membership
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit
  • Priority boarding
  • In-flight savings
  • VIP airport experience

All credit cards that get you free checked bags

If an airline card isn’t your style, consider a general travel card with travel credits. You’ll be reimbursed via these credits after you use the card for baggage fees.

We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you’re interested in before making a decision.

Read more about how to get free checked bags

Bottom line

American Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the world, and it offers several ways to avoid baggage fees. Upgrading your fare class is probably the easiest method, but it’s worth getting an American Airlines credit card if you travel with checked bags on the regular.

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Kevin Joey Chen

Kevin Joey Chen was a credit cards, banking and investments writer for Finder. His work and analysis have appeared on CNN, U.S. News & World Report, Business.com, Lifehacker and CreditCards.com.

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Ask an Expert

4 Responses

If I have already purchased my tickets and I receive my AA credit card can I still receive my free checked bags at the airport?

Thanks for getting in touch with Finder.

Is your AA credit card among the four mentioned above? If so, then your card automatically has free checked bags per domestic flight. To receive the benefit, you must:

1. Open your card at least seven days prior to your flight.
2. Add your American Airlines AAdvantage number to your reservation at least seven days before your flight.

If you’d like to get confirmation of your checked bag benefit, please contact your credit card issuer. It’s also important to read the terms and conditions of your card to make sure you can take advantage of this free checked bags feature.

Hope this has helped.

If a credit card offers first checked bag free, does this apply to each leg of a multi city trip?

Thanks for contacting Finder.

This depends on the cards term and condition.You can get 1 free checked bags per flight using American Airlines credit card. Please review your cards T&C or you can also contact the provider if you have specific questions.

I hope this helps.

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American Airlines baggage fees and how to avoid paying them

Edward Pizzarello covers family travel for TPG Family and also blogs at Pizza in Motion. You can find him hosting the Miles to Go podcast and eating doughnuts on Twitter and Instagram.

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American Airlines has a fairly comprehensive policy regarding checked baggage fees and carry-on guidelines. As a large domestic airline, the American Airlines baggage policy more closely resembles that of United and Delta than Spirit and Frontier.

In many cases, American Airlines customers will enjoy a free first checked bag or even two. However, that depends on many factors, including where you’re flying and whether you have elite status or carry one of the American Airlines credit cards. This guide will cover all the information you need to know about the American Airlines baggage policy.

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American Airlines carry-on guidelines

American Airlines is more generous with its carry-on policy than United. Virtually everyone is entitled to bring a full-sized carry-on bag and a personal item onto every flight, even customers who booked an American Airlines basic economy fare.

According to American, a personal item should be no larger than 18 inches by 14 inches by 8 inches and fit underneath the seat in front of a passenger. Examples of personal items are backpacks, purses, briefcases, laptop bags and approved pet carriers.

The maximum size of a carry-on bag allowed on an American Airlines flight is 22 inches by 14 inches by 9 inches.

American Airlines baggage fees

The American Airlines checked bag policy is more complex than the airline’s carry-on fees. Checked bag fees vary based on what region you’re flying to, the weight of your bags, whether you hold a co-branded credit card such as the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® and whether you have AAdvantage elite status.

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American Airlines baggage fees for flights within the U.S., Central America and the Caribbean

American Airlines checked bag fees for flights within the U.S., Central America and the Caribbean are pretty straightforward, as you can see in the following table:

First bagSecond bag
General member$30.$40.
AAdvantage Gold elite memberFree.$40.
AAdvantage Platinum elite memberFree.Free.
AAdvantage Platinum Pro elite memberFree.Free (and third bag free).
AAdvantage Executive Platinum elite memberFree.Free (and third bag free).

The American Airlines baggage weight limit before incurring overweight fees is 50 pounds per bag for economy class passengers and 70 pounds per bag for premium cabin passengers.

The airline has detailed rules for checked bags to Cuba and Haiti on its website.

American Airlines baggage fees for other flights

If your flight takes you outside North America, the American Airlines baggage fees get more expensive. Generally speaking, you can expect:

  • Fees for checked bags on travel to/from South America start at $45 for a first bag and $65 for a second bag.
  • All passengers (except those on basic economy fares) get one free bag for transatlantic and transpacific trips.
  • Fees for a second bag are generally $100, while fees for a third bag or more are $200 per bag.

Overweight and oversized American Airlines baggage fees

American Airlines charges both an overweight and oversize fee, and the fees can add up quickly. The American Airlines baggage weight and oversize fees are as follows:

  • Overweight fee: Starts at $100 per bag for 51 to 70 pounds and starts at $200 per bag for 70 to 100 pounds.
  • Oversized fee: Starts at $200 per bag for 63 to 126 inches, including wheels and handles.

Sports equipment

American Airlines maintains an extensive list of items that you can check. Skis, snowboards, hang gliding equipment, parachutes and many more items can count as a checked bag as long as they meet the overall size and weight requirements.

In most cases, there are no additional fees beyond any applicable checked bag fees. Scuba tanks and windsurfing boards are two notable exceptions where there is a fee regardless of whether you’re entitled to any free checked bags.

You can check out the requirements and fees for checking sports equipment on American Airlines’ website.

How to avoid American Airlines baggage fees

Luckily, there are several ways you can avoid paying American Airlines baggage fees if you want to check a bag.

Elite status allowances

All four elite status tiers in American Airlines’ AAdvantage program offer checked bag benefits.

  • AAdvantage Gold members receive a free first checked bag on all flights for themselves and up to eight traveling companions on the same reservation, up to 50 pounds per bag.
  • AAdvantage Platinum members can check up to two bags for free on all flights for themselves and up to eight traveling companions on the same reservation, up to 50 pounds per bag.
  • AAdvantage Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum members can check three bags of up to 50 pounds apiece on all itineraries for themselves and up to eight companions on the same reservation.

Additionally, Oneworld elite members receive at least their first checked bag free on all American-operated flights.

Credit cards

American Airlines has two primary card issues, Barclays and Citi. With various cards across multiple issuers, the checked baggage benefit varies widely based on what credit card you hold.

AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard and Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® holders get a first free checked bag for themselves and up to four traveling companions on domestic flights operated by American.

The information for the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Meanwhile, the premium Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® comes with a free first checked bag for yourself and up to eight traveling companions on domestic flights operated by American Airlines.

But some American Airlines cards, including the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card , don’t offer any checked baggage benefits.

Book a premium cabin

Whether you’re flying in domestic first class, international premium economy, international business class or Flagship First, you’ll receive an increased baggage allowance. Passengers traveling in a premium cabin will get at least two checked bags for free, while Flagship First customers can check up to their first three bags for free.

Use card travel credits to cover fees

Several travel rewards cards come with annual statement credits toward travel purchases. Some cards offer a credit that you can use for various travel purchases, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve and its $300 annual travel credit.

On the other hand, many American Express cards, like The Platinum Card® from American Express , offer annual airline fee credits, which are specifically for airline incidental fees. So long as you enroll in this benefit and select American as your airline of choice, you can get American Airlines baggage fees reimbursed by the credit.

Bottom line

The American Airlines baggage policy is somewhat less complicated than its competitor United. Where United uses a dynamic tool to help you understand your baggage allowance on certain flights, American Airlines has simpler charts (and rules) for customers.

American provides several ways to avoid checked baggage fees for passengers, and it allows a full-size carry-on bag and a personal item on all tickets.

However, note that free bags are for the first and second checked bag fee and can’t be “stacked” on top of each other. For example, an American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum member who also holds the AAdvantage Aviator Red card can’t get a total of three free checked bags when traveling domestically, even though they’re entitled to two as a Platinum member and one free checked bag with the credit card.

Checked bag policy

oneworld link opens in a new window

Changes to bag limitations have been updated as of April 26, 2022.

All bag fees are non-refundable and apply per person, at each check-in location, each way, even if you purchase or get an upgrade that includes free checked bags. If you believe you’ve been incorrectly charged for bag fees, contact an American representative for help or file a refund claim within 45 days.

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How many bags can you take?

Check up to 10 bags on American Airlines operated flights if your trip is:

  • Domestic
  • Transatlantic
  • Transpacific

Check up to 5 bags on American-operated flights if you’re traveling to / through / from:

  • Mexico / Caribbean / Central America*
  • South America*
  • Brazil*
  • Bag limitations
  • Bag regions

*There are seasonal and year-round bag restrictions

We calculate the size limits of your bag by adding the total outside dimensions of each bag, length + width + height.

For all regions, except to / from Australia or New Zealand, your checked bag allowance is:

  • Dimension: 62 in / 158 cm
  • Weight: 50 lbs / 23 kgs
  • For First / Business, weight is 70 lbs / 32 kgs for complimentary bags and 50 lbs / 23 kgs for excess charged bags

For all confirmed customers on flights to / from Australia or New Zealand:

  • Dimension: 62 in / 158 cm
  • Weight: 70 lbs / 32kgs for complimentary bags and 50 lbs / 23 kgs for excess charged bags

What it will cost

In some cases, you won’t have to pay the fees for up to 3 bags when traveling on itineraries marketed and operated by American Airlines. If you qualify for complimentary bags based on your AAdvantage ® or oneworld ® status, the benefits are based on your highest status level at time of ticketing or check-in.

If your status level is:

  • Higher at ticketing than at check-in, show your ticket receipt to the airport agent
  • Lower at ticketing than at check-in, current benefits will automatically apply

Free checked bags may not apply to codeshare flights operated by our partners. Visit the website of the airline operating your flight for details.

1st checked bag is complimentary for:

  • Eligible AAdvantage ® Aviator ® and Citi ® / AAdvantage ® cardmembers (on domestic American Airlines operated itineraries)
  • AAdvantage Gold ®
  • oneworld ® Ruby

And when traveling to these destinations:

  • Argentina*
  • Australia
  • Brazil*
  • Chile*
  • China
  • Colombia*
  • Ecuador*
  • El Salvador*^
  • Haiti*
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Panama*^
  • Paraguay*
  • Peru*
  • Qatar
  • South Korea
  • Transatlantic*
  • Uruguay*

*Excluding Basic Economy

^$0 1st bag fee applies to / from Panama for tickets issued on / before May 11, 2021, and on / after November 9, 2021. For tickets issued on / after May 12, 2021, and on / before November 8, 2021, a 1st bag fee of $30 applies to / from Panama. $0 1st bag fee applies seasonally to / from San Salvador, El Salvador for tickets issued on / before May 11, 2021. For tickets issued on / after May 12, 2021, a 1st bag fee of $30 applies year-round to / from El Salvador.

1st and 2nd checked bags are complimentary for:

  • AAdvantage Platinum ®
  • oneworld ® Sapphire members
  • TrueBlue Mosaic members^
  • Confirmed Domestic First customers
  • Confirmed Business customers
  • Confirmed Premium Economy customers

^Up to 2 free checked bags with check-in at American ticket counters

1st, 2nd and 3rd checked bags are complimentary for:

  • Confirmed Flagship ® First customers*
  • AAdvantage Executive Platinum ®
  • AAdvantage Platinum Pro ®
  • oneworld ® Emerald
  • Active U.S. military and/or dependents with ID traveling on orders (1st – 5th bags free of charge)
  • Active U.S. military with ID on personal travel

*Applicable only to Flagship &reg First International and Flagship &reg First Transcontinental. AAdvantage Executive Platinum &reg , AAdvantage Platinum Pro &reg and oneworld &reg Emerald members traveling in Flagship &reg First may check a 4th bag at no charge

Charges to / from Asia, Australia, and New Zealand

RegionBag 1^^Bag 2^^Bag 3Bag 4+
U.S. / Mexico / Caribbean (except Cuba) / Central America / South America$0$100 (150 AUD /150 NZD)$200 (300 AUD / 300 NZD)$200 (300 AUD / 300 NZD)

^^ Main Plus includes 1 more free checked bag above the Main Cabin allowance.

Charges to / from U.S. Domestic

RegionBag 1^^Bag 2^^Bag 3Bag 4+
Domestic$30$40$150$200
Mexico$30$40$200$200
Haiti$0 / $30*$65$200$200
Caribbean (except Cuba and Haiti)$30$40$200$200
Central America$30*^$40 / $65**$200$200
Guyana and Suriname$30$40$200$200
South America (except Guyana, and Suriname)$0 / $45*$65$200$200
Transatlantic$0 / $75*$100$200$200
Transpacific$0$100$200$200

All bag fees are non-refundable and apply per person, each way, even if you buy or get an upgrade that includes free checked bags. If you believe you were incorrectly charged for bag fees, contact an American representative for help or file a refund claim within 45 days.

All published bag fees are base rates according to travel dates and destination; applicable taxes are not shown. Seasonal pricing applies for tickets issued on / before April 25, 2022 for travel June 1, 2022 – August 19, 2022 and November 27, 2022 – January 10, 2023, and for tickets issued on / after April 26, 2022 for travel November 27, 2022 – January 10, 2023.

^For travel to / from Panama, there is no fee for the 1st bag (excluding Basic Economy) for tickets issued on / after November 9, 2021. For tickets issued and on / before November 8, 2021, the 1st bag fee of $30 applies to / from Panama.

^^Main Plus includes 1 more free checked bag above the Main Cabin allowance.

*Free bag excludes Basic Economy: For travel to / from Haiti, a $30 1st bag fee applies. For travel to / from Panama, a $30 1st bag fee applies for tickets issued on / before November 8, 2021, and for tickets issued on / after November 9, 2021, the 1st bag fee is $45. For travel to / from South America (excluding Guyana, Suriname) a $45 1st bag fee applies. For Transatlantic Basic Economy travel (excluding Israel), a $75 1st bag fee applies.

**For travel to / from Honduras, a $65 2nd bag fee applies seasonally (see above for seasonal travel dates). For travel to / from Panama, a $40 2nd bag fee applies for tickets issued on / before November 8, 2021, and for tickets issued on / after November 9, 2021, the 2nd bag fee is $65.

If your region isn’t listed, we can still help:

  • Reservations and ticket changes
  • Bag regions

Through checked bags

We only through check bags if all your tickets are in the same record locator and you’re connecting to another American Airlines or oneworld ® flight.

Each passenger traveling to Cuba may only check up to 2 bags with a maximum weight of 70 lbs / 32 kgs per bag, plus 1 carry-on bag and 1 personal item. There are no exceptions.

  • Bag limitations
  • Carry-on bags
Trips originating in Asia, Australia, and New ZealandBag 1Bag 2Bag 3Bag 4+
From Cuba$0$200 (300 AUD / 300 NZD)**$200 (300 AUD / 300 NZD)$200 (300 AUD / 300 NZD)
To Cuba$0$200 (300 AUD / 300 NZD)**$200 (300 AUD / 300 NZD)$200 (300 AUD / 300 NZD)
Trips originating in CubaBag 1Bag 2Bag 3Bag 4+
From Cuba$0$0$200$200
To Cuba$0$200*
Trips originating outside Cuba^Bag 1Bag 2Bag 3Bag 4+
To Cuba$30$200*
From Cuba$0$0$200$200

All bag fees are non-refundable and apply per person, each way, even if you buy or get an upgrade that includes free checked bags. If you believe you were incorrectly charged for bag fees, contact an American representative for help or file a refund claim within 45 days.

  • Oversize and overweight bags
  • Bag and optional fees
  • Refunds

*For travel to Cuba, a $65 2nd bag fee applies for tickets issued on / before April 25, 2022, and a $200 2nd bag fee applies for tickets issued on / after April 26, 2022 and travel on / after May 26, 2022.

**For travel between Asia/Australia/New Zealand and Cuba, a $100 (150 AUD / 150 NZD) 2nd bag fee applies for tickets issued on / before April 25, 2022, and a $200 (300 AUD / 300 NZD) 2nd bag fee applies for tickets issued on / after April 26, 2022 and travel on / after May 26, 2022.

^Excluding Transatlantic and Transpacific trips.

What else can you travel with?

  • Mobility and medical devices
  • Traveling with pets
  • Special items and sports equipment

Restricted items

There are some items that are only allowed in checked bags or your carry-on. Check to see how to pack and travel with restricted items.

Source https://www.finder.com/free-checked-bag-american-airlines

Source https://thepointsguy.com/guide/american-airlines-baggage-fees/

Source https://www.aa.com/i18n/travel-info/baggage/checked-baggage-policy.jsp?locale=en_IN

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