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It’s official: Checking a bag aboard any of the three major U.S. airlines will cost $30 for the first and $40 for the second each way. American Airlines officially raised its checked baggage costs for all new itineraries purchased on or after Sept. 21, 2018.
Even though the increased fares follow a trend from competitors Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, there are several ways American Airlines passengers can still get at least one checked bag for free. Holding one of the following cards entitles primary cardholders to one free checked bag when flying American:
- the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®.
- the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®.
- the American AAdvantage® Aviator® Red Mastercard®.
New American pricing for checked luggage
Under the new pricing chart, checking one bag aboard a domestic flight will cost $30 each way for basic economy and main cabin travelers — an increase of $5. Checking a second bag will cost $40 each way, also an increase of $5. “Domestic travel” includes flights to and from the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
» Learn more: Free checked luggage may be airline credit cards’ best unsung perk.
But pricing for other flights will not change. Main cabin passengers can still check at least one luggage item when traveling from Cuba to the United States and to or from Asia, Brazil, Europe, Haiti and some seasonal routes to Central and South America.
Unfortunately, those in basic economy may still face the highest fares for checked luggage unless they pay for them prior to their travels. When traveling between Europe and the Americas, a single checked bag can cost up to $60.
How to get a free checked bag aboard American
For frequent flyers or those who routinely check at least one piece of luggage aboard their flights, there are several ways to still get at least one free bag. The most common way is through American’s co-branded credit cards. Cardholders must include their American Airlines AAdvantage number on their itineraries when booking to be eligible, and the card must be open for at least seven days prior to air travel. The following cards grant at least one free checked bag:
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®: One checked bag free of charge for the primary cardholder and up to four companions on the same reservation when traveling on domestic itineraries.
- American AAdvantage® Aviator® Red Mastercard®: The first eligible checked bag is free of charge for the primary cardholder and up to four traveling companions on the same reservation when traveling on domestic itineraries.
- CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®: One checked bag free of charge for the primary cardholder and up to four companions on the same reservation when traveling on domestic itineraries.
Other ways cardholders can receive one free checked bag include:
- Hold elite status in the American AAdvantage program (including AAdvantage Gold).
- Book a flight in the first or business-class cabin.
- Book a flight in Premium Economy (not Main Cabin Extra).
- Traveling on military fares (including spouses and immediate families).
How to maximize your rewardsYou want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for:
- Airline miles and a large bonus: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- No annual fee: The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
- Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
- Premium travel rewards: The Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Business travelers: The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Delays, Lost Bags, Complaints: How Does Your Favorite Airline Rank?
American Airlines Checked Baggage Fee Settlement: How to File a Claim
Airline Cards’ Fine Print May Leave You Holding the Bag Fee
Photo courtesy of American Airlines.