Luggage and Baggage (AA)

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Luggage and Baggage

Frequent flyers know that it's best to avoid checking bags whenever possible. Many carry on a 21-22" rollaboard and matching tote bag and can pack enough for a week of travel or more. However, there are cases when it may be necessary to check bags. This page answers some frequently asked questions on these topics. Before relying on this information, be sure to check out AA Baggage Information.

Carry-on Baggage

How many carry-on bags can I bring?

For carry-on baggage, all passengers are limited to one 'small bag' (often a rollaboard suitcase) and one 'personal item' (often a purse or briefcase). The small bag is limited to 45 linear inches (L+W+H) and the individual dimensions may not exceed 22” x 18” x 10”. The personal item is limited to 36 linear inches and must fit under the seat in front of you. Both items are limited to 40 lbs total, but this is not generally enforced. Rollaboard suitcases fit 'wheels first' into the overhead bins of most mainline narrowbody aircraft (MD-80, 737, 757). Note that most rollaboard suitcases will not fit in the overhead bins on regional aircraft (American Eagle and American Connection), and must be gate checked with a red tag for dropoff and pickup planeside. Anecdotal reports suggest that AA has also become more stringent about carry-on bag limits, often using baggage sizers at security checkpoints and gates, which have been measured at 23.5” x ≥13.5” x 10”.

N.B.: Currently, for flights from Canada to the U.S. only, only one small carry-on item (22"x16"x9") is allowed. No additional personal item is permitted. The only exceptions are for those with medical conditions or traveling with small children.

What do I do with my rollaboard on American Eagle flights?

Most rollaboards will not fit in the overhead bins on regional jets (ERJ, CRJ, and ATR aircraft). You will receive a red gate check tag at the gate, then drop your rollaboard off at the designated area on the jetbridge (often at the end by the plane, or at a luggage elevator in some airports) or planeside. Gate checked bags are returned planeside or on the jetbridge after your flight - do not proceed to baggage claim for these bags.

What if there's no room for my carry-on bag?

Overhead bins are shared storage space and passengers are encouraged to place smaller bags under the seat in front of them. However, there are times when there will not be enough room for your rollaboard in the overhead bins, especially if you are one of the last to board. Flight attendants may sometimes allow you to store your rollaboard in another cabin if the overhead bins in your cabin are completely full. However, on international flights, passage between cabins is prohibited, so be sure to remove anything you'll need during the flight. If there is no overhead bin space left on the plane, then your bag will be check through to your final destination for retrieval at baggage claim.

Checked Baggage and Fees

How much will I pay to check my baggage in?

AA began charging for checked bags in 2008.* For the most current rules, see AA Checked Bag Charges. Exemptions include those flying on purchased First or Business Class tickets, those who purchase full-fare economy tickets, AAdvantage and oneworld elite members and their companions, and military members flying on orders.

Fees for domestic economy class tickets within the U.S., U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, each way, are as follows:

Domestic Economy Checked Baggage Charges
Purchase Date 1st Bag 2nd Bag 3rd-5th Bags ≥6th Bag
Jun 15, 2008 - Aug 14, 2009 $15 $25 $100 $200
Aug 14, 2009 - Jan 31, 2010 $20 $30 $100 $200
Feb 1, 2010 and beyond $25 $35 $100 $200

Fees for travel to/from Canada are $15 for the first bag and $25 for the second for tickets purchased on or before Mar 28, 2010, and have increased to $25 and $35, respectively, for tickets purchased on or after Mar 29, 2010.

Fees for travel to/from Belgium, England, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland are $0 for the first bag and $50 for the second for tickets purchased on/after Sep 14, 2009. There are no fees for travel to/from Moscow and other international destinations.

Baggage charges are higher for bags exceeding 62 in/157 cm or/and weighing over 23 kg/50 lbs; baggage measuring more than 115 in/292 cm will not be accepted as checked baggage.

* For domestic economy class tickets purchased from June 15, 2008 through Aug 13, 2009, the fees were $15 for the first checked bag and $25 for the second checked bag each way. For domestic economy class tickets purchased from May 12, 2008 through June 14, 2008, the first checked bag was free and the second was charged $25 each way. Prior to May 12, 2008, AA did not charge checked baggage fees.

What if my bags are overweight/oversized?

Pay according to AA's schedules.

How much should I tip a Skycap to help get my bags to the check-in?

Some of the airports charge $2. It is important to realize that the $2 fee is not a tip. In general it is good etiquette to tip a couple of dollars per bag on top of the fee. Be extra generous if a Skycap needs to assist you for a longer period of time.

Can I check in my bags at a non-airport location?

Yes, AA has a new program called AAdvance Bag Check which lets you drop of your bags in a number of convenient locations including Boston, Chicago, Coronado, Dallas, Honolulu, Lake Buena Vista, Los Angeles, Orlando, and San Francisco. Pricing starts at $10 per person. These are oriented to cruise and convention passengers primarily.

Can I simply ship my bags?

Yes - some people ship bags via FedEx, UPS, DHL and a number of luggage forwarding services.

Do I have to re-check my bags when flying internationally?

It's complicated and depends on a number of factors - such as where you're connecting and where you have to clear customs. Best thing to do is to ask the check-in agent.

Can I check in additional bags en route?

According to this thread, you can. Be sure to be aware of your baggage allowance.

Can I check my bags through via another airline?

This process is known as Baggage Interlining. See Interline Ticketing and Bags. You can't interline with Southwest or JetBlue, for instance.

I have two itineraries, can I have my bags go all the way through?

Show the check-in agent both itineraries and depending on the airline of the second itinerary (see above), he/she may be able to check the bags all the way through via interlining. Note that if you are going to do an overnight stop in a city, then you will most likely have to pick up your bags.

Will my bags be on the same plane with me?

Likely they will be. Note that for all international flights, bags are supposed to be on the same flight as you. For domestic flights, sometimes they may arrive on an earlier flight. If you are conservative in choosing your domestic connections, consider inspecting the luggage office and "cages" when you arrive, just in case your bags made it onto an earlier flight.

I want to fly my pet as cargo; can I?

Yes, but there are requirements and fees to be paid. Check the AA Traveling With Pets page: [1]

Lost and Damaged Baggage

Who should I go see about missing or damaged luggage?

You must report the missing or damaged bag to the last carrier that you travelled on before leaving the airport. In many cases, that carrier will contact the interim carriers to try to locate it. Some people keep with their carry-on bags a photo of their checked-in luggage; it may help to include an itinerary and basic contact information on top of your packed goods inside the bag, and some include it in a marked external tag.

AA has a bag claim status page that you can use to check the status of your claim. See also the FT thread on the service.

AA's information on delayed and missing baggage and a FlyerTalk Thread on damaged bags.

What about compensation for expensive items?

Most airlines do not cover documents, electronic, photographic, jewelry or a number of other valuable items. Maximum compensation is determined by international agreements (Warsaw or Montreal Conventions) and whether the itinerary is domestic or international.

My bag was damaged, can I request compensation?

Maybe - but the airline will not cover wear (scuffs, etc.) nor any "protrusion" such as handles, wheels, and the like.

My bags were delayed, can I get some compensation?

AA may refund "Consequential Expenses" and in some circumstances provide miles. Check the Compensation article for information on what others have received.

Luggage Tags

How do I get those Priority baggage tags?

As of Oct 2009, AA provides Priority baggage tags to customers traveling in F, J, and EXP, PLT, AAirpass, oneworld Emerald, and oneworld Sapphire members in all classes when checking bags on domestic flights.

I want some of those cool AA luggage tags!

Luggage tags are currently issued by American Airlines to the following individuals:

  • AAdvantage Executive Platinum members, each year upon qualification
  • Admirals Club members, upon initiation
  • All Elite AAdvantage members as they cross each million miles ever earned threshold, with a number showing how many millions of miles the individual has earned.
  • New - as of December 20, 2012, AA have discontinued the purchase of personalized AAdvantage® Executive Platinum, Platinum, Gold, and Regular luggage tags. Admirals Club tags can still be purchased at the Admirals Club desks.

As part of the "25th Anniversary Elite Rewards Offer," American offered Gold Luggage Tags as a reward option for Gold Status members who flew between 40,000 and 49,999 EQP or EQM in 2006.

In the past, American issued luggage tags to AAdvantage Platinum members upon qualification; however, this practice has ended.

There are are non-personalized of AA tags available for purchase at the CR Smith Museum and website:

Related FlyerTalk Threads