Frequent travelers are well-versed in the finite details that are important when planning for a new trip – especially when it comes to baggage policies. After all, who wants to find out at the last minute that your bags are overweight and are therefore subject to additional cost? If you already have tickets issued by American Airlines and will be getting onboard soon, you’d want to know the specifics about their baggage rules.

American Airlines Airplane Parked at the Airport

For example, does American Airlines charge for checked bags? Where and when does this rule apply, if ever? What can I do to ensure that my checked bag fees don’t go overboard and that I stay within the maximum weight of bags per person? If your questions about baggage allowance are pretty much along these lines, read on ahead to know what it is you should be aware of!

Read more: Best carry on luggage with wheels

Making a Habit to Check

So, does American Airlines charge for checked bags? The answer is actually yes and no. You can have some bags for free, while other situations will require you to pay for a bag fee. While we’re going to outline the latest policies on checked bags in this article, future travels will definitely require revisiting information on checked baggage of American Airlines and other airlines to see if the rates and policies have changed.

Changed Allowances for Checked Bags

Basically, the checked bag fees for flights taken within the United States or to/from Canada, Central America, Caribbean, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are determined by tickets that were issued on and after September 21, 2018.

  • The first checked bag fee will apply to tickets that are Transatlantic Basic Economy.
  • The second checked bag fee will apply to flights that are to and from Haiti, with tickets that were issued on or after November 13, 2018, and with travel that begins on January 14, 2019.
  • Should you wish to fly to Bonaire, you have a 2 checked bag limit if your tickets were issued on March 22, 2018 or after that.
  • If you have a flight to Guyana, Oaxaca, MX, Pereira, or St. Vincent, there will also be a 2 checked bag limit for each person travelling between the periods of November 15, 2018 and January 13, 2019.

Read more: Which Airline has the Most Baggage Allowance?

Bag Limits

Concerns on bag limits for travel via economy, domestic, and otherwise will surely be at the top of every traveler’s mind.

  • If you are traveling domestic, transatlantic, or transpacific, the maximum number of bags you can have checked in is 10.
  • If you are traveling to, through, and from Mexico, Caribbean, Central America, South America, and Brazil, your checked bag limit is 5.

Passengers walking with baggage at the airport

Determining Your Bag Dimensions

American Airlines’ policy on size and weight include calculating size limits by adding up the total measurement of your bags’ outside dimensions (length x width + height). The checked bag allowance for all regions will be based on the following specifics:

  • Dimensions of 62 inches or 158 centimeters
  • Total weight of 50 pounds or 23 kilos
  • For passengers on First and Business class, a total weight of 70 pounds or 32 kilos

Read more: How Many Bags Can You Carry on a Plane

Complimentary Checked Bags Details

The nice thing about American Airlines (and most airlines in general) is that in some cases they provide initial complimentary bags for a maximum of 3 bags if you qualify for it. It really pays to be part of the Elite status loyalty program, because your free checked bag benefit will be based on your current highest status level when you check in. If by check-in time your status level is higher when you booked your ticket than the time that you have to check in, you should show your ticket receipt to the agent so they know that you have more checked bag benefits. If your status level ends up being lower when you book the ticket rather than by the time you check in, then whatever benefits you currently enjoy will be enforced.

American Airlines has a list of loyalty program types for travelers who would like to enjoy these complimentary bag check-ins, which are viewable on their site.

Schedule of Fees

Now, let’s look at the actual fees that are currently enforced at the time of writing this article:

Region/s Bag 1 Bag 2 Bag 3 Bag 4 or more
Domestic and Mexico $30 $40 $150 $200
Caribbean $30 $40/$70 $150 $200
Panama $0 $40 $150 $200
Central America (excluding Panama) $30 $40/$55 $150 $200
Brazil $0 $0 $150+ $150+
Colombia $0/$30 $55 $150 $200
Ecuador $0 $40 $150 $200
Venezuela $0 $55 $150 $200
South America (excluding Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela) $0 $0 $150 $200
Transatlantic $0/$60+ $100 $200 $200
Transpacific $0 $0 $200 $200


These bag fees are all non-refundable and apply to each person in your trip, per way. If you think that your checked bags were incorrectly charged, you should contact an American Airlines representative ASAP for assistance. If you don’t get around to doing this, the best you can do is to file for a refund claim which can be done within 45 days.

Stacked baggage being carried by a trolley at the airport

Keeping Within the Limit

All in all, American Airlines charges a pretty fair deal for checked bags – especially since many regions are free for the first bag. If you are traveling on a budget and would like to avoid extra costs, these tips may help when it’s time to pack for your trip:

  1. Create a list of everything you’d like to bring, then identify the essentials. Only bring what you will need for your trip so you don’t lug around items that are nice to have but not really needed.
  2. Decant your products for the exact amount that you will need. Toiletries sometimes take up a good amount of space and weight, so consider transferring your bath and body products into smaller containers that will last you for the duration of your trip. No need to bring that big ‘ol bottle of shampoo!
  3. Be mindful of the travel souvenirs and mementos you want to get. Travelling often includes buying souvenirs that remind you of your experience, but these need not be plentiful nor space-consuming. Small items – magnets, post cards, bottle openers, etc. – will remind you of your holiday experience and are easy to pack for your return trip.
  4. When it comes to clothes, consider reusing garments for several occasions. A good travel wardrobe is lean enough while allowing you to mix and match several outfits for your trip. You can wear the same skirt twice if you carefully plan out the other tops that you’ll bring to perfectly match with it.
  5. Should you end up with a lot of stuff to bring home, you might want to ship it ahead of time. Cargo boxes are great because you often have no weight limit and your only consideration is that everything should fit in the box itself. This is a great tip for those who go on buying trips, as they wish to carry light (just the personal necessities) but intend to come home with a lot of stuff for personal or business use.

Now that you know what to be aware of in terms of the fees for checked bags, you’ll be more mindful of how much you are willing to bring for your next great vacation!