American Airlines Checked Bag Fees: How They Work, How to Avoid Them

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As the largest airline in the U.S., American Airlines offers an extensive route network with flights around the world. If you’re planning to travel on one of these flights, you may end up paying to check your bags — but you may not know how much. While American Airlines publishes an outline of fees by destination, fare class and elite status, it can be complicated to navigate through.

In this article, we break down everything you need to know about how American Airlines bag fees work — including a handy fee calculator to use before booking your ticket.

American Airlines bag fees

American Airlines checked bag fees vary based on factors like fare class, destination and number of bags. Those traveling only within the U.S. can expect to pay $30 per checked bag each way.

That fee could be higher if you check more bags or are traveling further abroad. Baggage fees can really add up for families traveling together — or for anyone who's bringing a lot with them.

Here's a sampling of other checked bag fees you may encounter:

  • Extra bag fee: Extra bag fees vary. Your first extra bag can be checked for $30-$75. A second bag can be checked for $40-$100, whereas a third bag will cost you $150-$200. Fourth bags are allowed on certain flights for a fee of $200 each way. See details here.

  • Oversize bag fee: Bags sized 62 in/158 cm – 126 in/320 cm cost $200 extra for each way for flights between the U.S., Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada, as well as on flights to Mexico, Caribbean, Central America, Guyana, Suriname, China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, India, Australia and New Zealand. An oversize bag on flights to South America (excluding Guyana and Suriname) and Europe will cost $150 each way. Bags over 126 in / 320 cm are not accepted.

  • Overweight bag fees: Bags that weigh 51 lbs/23 kgs - 70 lbs/32 kgs cost $100 between U.S., Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada, as well as on flights to Europe, China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, India, New Zealand, and Australia. Even heavier bags can be flown for $200-$450 depending on your flight.

  • Golf bag fee: Standard checked bag fee for your destination apply up to 50 lbs/23 kgs and 126 in/320 cm (length + width + height). Overweight fee of $150 for bags weighing 50-71 lbs / 23-32 kgs purchased before Nov. 8, 2021; standard overweight fee of $100 for tickets purchased after Nov. 9, 2021.

  • Ski bag fee: A pair of skis or a single snowboard and one equipment bag counts as one checked item. Standard bag fees apply for up to 50lbs/23kgs and 126in/320cm (length + width + height); if its larger, standard oversize fees are applied.

How to determine checked bag fees on American Airlines

Checked bag fees on American Airlines can be difficult to decipher, especially if you’re trying to decide whether it’s worth it to book a basic economy fare.

American Airlines domestic baggage fees calculator

We’ve developed a handy calculator to help you figure out what the real cost of that ticket will be if you want to check bags, taking into account any elite status or co-branded credit cards you have.

The calculator will help you figure out what the checked bag fees are on your domestic flights. International baggage fees are more complex, so you’ll need to check with American directly.

How to get a free checked bag on American Airlines

Premium cabin passengers, elite members and even co-branded credit card holders get free checked bags on American Airlines. Checked bag fees are also waived for passengers traveling to certain destinations. Below is a break-down of your options for avoiding American bag fees.

Waived fees by destination

All long-haul international main cabin tickets on American come with one free checked bag. American Airlines offers one free checked bag on certain routes to and from the U.S.:

Destinations offering one free checked bag include:

  • Cuba.

  • Haiti.

  • South America (except, Guyana and Suriname).

  • Transatlantic flights (except for basic economy fares).

  • Transpacific flights.

If you’re flying on a basic economy ticket, the baggage allowance may differ. Confirm with American the price of the checked bag.

In addition, American sells a basic economy plus bag fare on flights to Asia, Oceania, India and Israel, which comes with one free checked bag.

Free checked bags for premium cabin travel

Though traveling in premium economy, business or first class costs more, it also includes additional free checked bags. Premium economy and business class passengers get up to two free bags, while first class passengers can check up to three, depending on destination.

Free checked bags for elite members

American Airlines has four elite tiers that offer myriad useful benefits, including free checked bags. The free checked bag benefit applies to elite members and guests traveling on the same reservation on American Airlines or American Eagle.

  • AAdvantage Gold: One free checked bag.

  • AAdvantage Platinum: Two free checked bags.

  • AAdvantage Platinum Pro: Three free checked bags.

  • AAdvantage Executive Platinum: Three free checked bags.

Oneworld and JetBlue TrueBlue elite members also qualify for free checked bags on American Airlines-operated flights:

  • Oneworld Ruby: One free checked bag.

  • Oneworld Sapphire: Two free checked bags.

  • Oneworld Emerald: Three free checked bags.

  • TrueBlue Mosaic: Two free checked bags.

American Airlines credit cards with free checked bags

If you don’t anticipate earning elite status or traveling in premium cabins, another method for avoiding bag fees is getting a co-branded American Airlines credit card.

The great thing about the free checked bag benefit from these co-branded credit cards is that it’s tied to your AAdvantage account number, so you don’t have to pay for your flights with these cards to get the free checked bag. All you have to do is add your AAdvantage number to your reservation.

Free checked bags for military members

Active duty U.S. military members and their dependents receive up to five free checked bags when traveling on orders. For personal travel, up to three bags can be checked free of charge.

Cards that cover airline incidentals

Many premium cards offer annual credits toward airline incidental fees, including checked bags. The The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express both offer an annual $200 airline fee credit for a pre-selected airline, while the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card offers a $250 credit. After selecting American as your airline of choice, you’ll receive a statement credit every time you use your card to make a qualifying purchase, including paying checked bag fees. Terms apply.

There are other cards that don’t restrict you to choosing a single airline if you frequently fly with different carriers. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers a $300 annual travel credit that applies to all travel purchases, including checked bag fees. And the Citi Prestige® Card offers a $250 annual travel credit.

Though these premium cards carry higher annual fees than the American Airlines cards, they also offer more flexibility in terms of redeeming your points and using travel credits.

The information related to the Citi Prestige® Card and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.


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