How to Add and Pay For Checked Baggage Online With American Airlines (2023)

Last Updated on September 14, 2021

Economy tickets with American Airlines don’t include checked baggage by default.

And you can’t simply tick a box and add on a checked bag when you are purchasing the ticket.

So you may find yourself wishing to purchase a checked bag allowance and prepay the baggage fees after you’ve purchased the ticket.

Adding a checked bag to AA is inexplicably complicated and confusing. You’d expect you could just call them up or go on to the website and add a bag at any time…

But you can’t.

Hopefully, this article will clear things up for you.

You Can Purchase Up To 3 Checked Bags When You Check-In Online

You can buy checked bags and pay the fee when you check-in online.

You see that? I highlighted the important bit for you 🙂

That will help you from becoming super frustrated like Nicole:

There is no link to prepay baggage. It’s part of the check-in process which only opens up 24 hours before your flight.

Pat also got confused:

AA has a habit of saying things like “you can choose to pay for up to 3 checked bags (per person) before arriving at the airport” without mentioning check-in in the same sentence.

This leads people off on a wild goose chase searching for a link that doesn’t exist.

So, purchasing a checked bag allowance is part of the online check-in process.

However, it’s not always that straightforward.

  • You can’t pay for baggage during check-in on international flights, though admittedly an international flight will often include one free checked bag. If you want to add additional bags online before your flight you are screwed.
  • Not all itineraries allow online bag check-in.
  • You can only pay during check-in online which opens 24 hours before your flight and closes 4 hours before your flight.

So even though you can book your flight weeks or months in advance there is only a 20-hour window of opportunity when you can prepay for checked luggage.

If no option to buy checked luggage shows up during online check-in that means that it can’t be done.

How To Buy A Checked Bag With American Airlines

For most people, if you’re flying within and between the U.S., including Hawaii, Alaska and select Caribbean cities, the answer is to sit tight and wait until 24 hours before your flight.

You can then prepay for checked baggage during the check-in process on or by using the AA App

You can’t prepay for checked bags over the phone or online out of the checking-in process.

If the check-in process doesn’t ask you about checked luggage then it can’t be added. You’ll need to do it at the airport.

If you want to know if your flight allows you to add baggage online then you can ping @AmericanAir a message on Twitter. DM them your record locator and they will let you know if adding bags will be an option during check-in.

And if your flight is less than 4 hours away you can’t prepay for hold luggage online anymore and you’ll need to do it at the airport.

(Video) Can you prepay for checked baggage on American Airlines?

Why Can’t You Pay A Fee For Checked Baggage When You Buy The Ticket?

Beats me!

Are you crazy! That would be far too sensible!

AA seems to be hell-bent on making it awkward to prepay for your checked luggage.

It would be simple and convenient to add an option to pay for a checked bag when you buy your main cabin ticket. Many airlines operate systems like this.

If they wanted, AA could also easily allow you to edit your booking to add on and pay for hold luggage any time before your flight.

But airlines don’t always want Economy to mean cheap. They want it to mean annoying!

Sure AA will not nickel and dime you on the same level as Spirit or Frontier. But they are playing a tactical game too.

It’s only relatively recently that AA has allowed you to prepay for checked baggage at all. They liked to force the people in the cheap seats to stand in line if they wanted to bring checked luggage.

And here’s the kicker…

For some people, those with more money than sense, that would be annoying enough that they’ll pay those ridiculous prices for first-class or business class because of the complimentary bags or free checked baggage allowance.

So although AA has now relented and allows you to prepay for checked bags you can only do it in a small window of 20 hours before your flight.

Believe me, if AA wanted to update their system they could get it done before you could say Jack Robinson. They are a massive organization. You can’t add bags online days before your flight because AA don’t want you to.

(Video) Can I add checked baggage after booking American Airlines?

Why does this matter?

Well, some passengers get anxious when traveling. They like to get organized and know they’ll be able to bring their suitcase on their flight. Passengers like to plan ahead so that things will go smoothly.

People worry about getting hit in the pocket with expensive fees, standing in lines, and even missing flights.

But if you are worried that it will be more expensive to pay for a checked bag at the airport then you can relax. The price to prepay a checked bag online is the same price as it is to pay for a checked bag at the airport.

I looked on Twitter to make sure this was true.

Valentina was worried about this and asked AA on Twitter and they reassured her she would not pay more.

The prepay baggage fees for American Airlines are the same as the checked bag fees you’ll pay at the airport.

For regular domestic flights, adding one 62 linear inches bag will cost you $30, adding a second bag will cost $40, the third checked bag will cost $150.

If you want to add a 4th checked bag you’ll need to do that at the airport and it will cost $200. Three checked bags online is the maximum number you can add when checking in.

Keep in mind that the fines for oversize or overweight luggage can be painful. So it’s a good idea to invest in a luggage scale so you don’t exceed the weight restrictions.

Lauren was trying to get organized and pay for her luggage online before her flight.

AA replied as if Lauren just couldn’t figure it out…

Hey @AmericanAir it’s not Lauren that’s stupid. It’s your stupid system!

The polite answer would have been “You can’t add baggage to your flight over the phone. You can only do it online during check-in”.

Being told that “our airport team will assist you on the day of departure” wouldn’t help me feel organized.

Because I don’t want to end up standing in lines like Matthew.

Look at that line! That’s why I almost always stick to carry-on bags and why you’ll find me sitting in that Starbucks drinking a coffee before departure.

Joe was incredulous when he discovered that he couldn’t pay for baggage fees and a pet ahead of time.

Joe kindly wanted to pay the baggage fee for his family.

I like how Joe says “this is not acceptable” and then it’s just silence from AA.

But for AA it’s just a case of “the system says no”.

(Video) Online Check-in

Whatever happened to customer service? Online systems have brought a lot of convenience for travelers but I can’t help but feel we’ve lost the personal touch.

Would it be so hard to let Joe speak to a real person on the phone and for them to take his card details?

Why it might not always be a good idea to prepay for your bags online

If you need to cancel your flight at the last minute your prepaid bags are non-refundable.

Charlie couldn’t understand why this was the case…

I don’t get it either Charlie.

It’s just a case of you gave us your money… and it’s OUR money now.

And this Dude thought he was going to need two checked bags, so he prepaid for two.

He then realized he could manage with only one.

According to AA, bags previously purchased are “non-refundable”. Don’t you just love the language?

Like a refund would be impossible.

Of course, charges like this are refundable. AA is able to process a refund IF they want. But they’ve got your money now and they don’t want to give it back. Sorry that you weren’t aware Dude!

The lesson is don’t prepay for bags that you might not need!

Also, pack before you check-in.

If you check in with one bag and then realize you need a second checked suitcase then you won’t be able to add it.

Also make sure you really need to pay the baggage fee.

Sherry prepaid $30 to check a bag that was carry-on size.

If your suitcase is under the carry-on size limit, yet you still want it stored in the hold compartment, then don’t prepay the bag fee.

Simply bring your bag to the gate and ask them to check it. Stewards are always looking to check bags at the gate since there is never enough room in the overhead bins.

You’ll have figured that I’m not too impressed with how American Airlines handles the pre-payment of baggage fees. It’s bad customer service and it causes a lot of confusion.

Saul says it best.

Dear American Airlines…

(Video) American Airlines Baggage Fees Explained


The Verdict

You can usually add and pay for checked baggage during the online check-in process.

If you don’t see any option to do this then it means you’ll need to do it at the airport at the AA check-in counter or the self-service kiosk.

It won’t cost any more money to add your checked bag at the airport but allow extra time for standing in lines.

It would be a very simple fix for AA to upgrade their website so that you can add a checked bag when you buy your ticket.

Many airlines do this already and it means passengers can relax knowing that their luggage requirements are sorted well in advance of their flight.

Instead, AA creates an artificial window that is only open for 20 hours. I can’t help thinking that this is a tactic used to manipulate customers.

So what can you do about it?

You can suck it up, pay the luggage fees when and where you are told to…

Or you can learn to travel light and fly with only carry-on luggage stored in the overhead bin rather than the hold compartment.

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(Video) Check in to American Airlines Flight Using the App


You Might Also Like

  • What is Basic Economy on American Airlines?
  • How strict is American Airlines with carry-on size?


How do I add baggage to my American Airlines reservation? ›

This can be done when you check-in and up to 4 hours before departure. Here are the ways to prepay: Check-in for your booking on the American Airlines website and add up to 3 bags. Check-in for your booking on the American Airlines mobile app and add up to 3 bags.

Can I add a checked bag on American Airlines app? ›

Paying for bags online

Don't wait in line at the airport – check up to 3 bags when you check-in on or in the app.

Can I add a bag after online check-in American Airlines? ›

If you've already checked in online, simply go to the ticket counter when you arrive at the airport and tell them you need to check a bag after all. The agent will be able to check the bag and will give you the claim ticket (or stub or sticker). Easy-peasey!

How much does it cost to add baggage for American Airlines? ›

A $150 2nd bag fee applies for tickets issued on / after March 14, 2023 for travel on / before November 15, 2023 or travel on / after January 10, 2024. A $200 2nd bag fee applies otherwise. ^Main Plus includes 1 extra free checked bag in addition to the Main Cabin allowance (max of 2).

Can I add baggage after booking? ›

You can add baggage, seats and other extras to your flight with the airline directly. Most airlines have a Manage My Booking page to do this. You'll need your airline reference to log in which can be found on the Flights section of your documentation.

Can you pay for checked bags ahead of time on American Airlines? ›

Save time at the airport when you add your checked bags to your trip ahead of time. Check in online before your trip, select your checked bags, pay if needed and get your mobile or printed boarding pass.

Why can't I pay to check bags on American Airlines? ›

To avoid paying a checked bag fee, you need to have an eligible American Airlines credit card, at least AAdvantage Gold elite status, Oneworld Ruby status, fly in a premium cabin or as a military member in uniform. Many international destinations include a free checked bag, so check your route for exact information.

Is it cheaper to check bags online American Airlines? ›

The price is the same as travelers would pay at the airport, $30 for the first bag and $40 for the second bag. The airline already lists details about prepaid bags on its website. Travelers who prepay for a bag and don't bring one do not receive a refund, for example.

Can I add extra baggage before check-in? ›

Before you check into your flight, you can buy an additional bag to put in the hold. This is a costly option that gets more expensive the closer to your date of departure and even costlier if added on at the airport. There are still weight limitations and not every airline will allow you to book an extra suitcase.

Can I check-in online if I have to check a bag? ›

Yes. This service is now available when you need to check bags, as well as when you travel with only carry-on bags. Once you reach the airport, the quickest way to check your bags is by using one of our ticket counter kiosks.

Is it better to check bags online or at airport? ›

Saving money on additional luggage

Purchasing additional baggage during online check-in will generally be cheaper than waiting until you're at the airport to do so.

How does online check-in baggage work? ›

If you are checking bags in you can go straight to the bag drop off points for your airline. Some airlines are now making this self-service where you print your own tags and fix them to the bags. You then simply drop the bags at the special desks, so check with airline staff if you are unsure.

Is it cheaper to add baggage at the airport? ›

If you're concerned that your baggage might exceed the allowed limit, pay for additional luggage weight online in advance of your trip. Sure, it's an extra cost, but it's always much cheaper to pay for it online than at the airport. This will help you to sail through check-in and avoid the stress.

Does American allow 2 free checked bags? ›

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

How many bags does American Airlines allow for free? ›

1 personal item and 1 carry-on.

Do you have to check-in luggage twice? ›

It depends on how your ticket was booked. If your flights were booked under one ticket, your bags will be checked through to your final destination. If your flights were booked under separate tickets, you will need to collect your bags and recheck them before your connecting flight.

Can I send my luggage ahead to airport? ›

Yes, of course you can. You can easily send your luggage ahead with Send My Bag. All you have to do is pack up your luggage securely, then book a collection online, selecting your chosen destination.

Is it better to prepay for checked bags? ›

For select destinations, you'll even save money on checked bag fees when you prepay. Make the check-in process easier by paying online before your flight.

Can I add a checked bag before my flight? ›

No problem! You can add checked bags to your reservation at any time leading up to your flight's departure.

When did American Airlines start charging for checked bags? ›

In the US, American Airlines introduced fees for all checked bags in 2008, triggering a wave of policy changes among the big three and beyond.

Why would I not be able to check in online with American Airlines? ›

You might not be able to check in using the app, if: Your first flight is not operated by American Airlines. You're traveling with a pet, weapon or firearm. You're an unaccompanied minor.

Does American Airlines credit card give free checked bag international? ›

Unfortunately, credit cards that offer free checked bags, such as the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® don't work here, as they offer just the first bag free and only then on domestic itineraries.

Which airlines allow 2 free checked bags? ›

Southwest is the only airline that provides 2 FREE CHECKED BAGS for all fares.

How much does it cost to check a bag on American Airlines basic economy? ›

Including these bag fees: American charges $30 for the first checked bag, $40 for the second, and $150 for the third (each way). You can offset these bag fees with an American credit card. Despite the restrictions, booking basic economy on American Airlines doesn't have to be a bad experience.

How much does it cost to add a check in baggage? ›

Baggage categoryFeeMax Size (L+W+H)
First checked bag$3062"
Second checked bag$4562"
Third checked bag$150+62"
Fourth(+) checked bag$200+62"
6 more rows

Do you have to pay for checked bags twice on a round trip? ›

Baggage fees are per bag and per direction. So one way = one charge. Round trip = two charges. If your flight has a connection, bags will generally transfer from flight to flight and no additional fees will apply.

How do I check my bags on American Airlines? ›

You can check-in online or from the app starting 24 hours before and up to 45 minutes before departure (90 for international). To check-in and check bags at the airport, you must be there a certain amount of time before scheduled departure: Within the U.S. – 45 minutes.

What are the disadvantages of online check-in? ›

Sometimes, airlines won't allow you to reserve seats in the exit aisle online. The staff need to see you to be sure that you're able and willing to help in the event of an emergency. So speaking with the ground staff can enable you to be allocated a seat with that luxurious extra legroom.

Do I need to print my boarding pass if I checked in online? ›

If you do available online check in for traditional airline, you don't need to print it but you do need to have it in your mobile. If you do check in at the airport, the desk clerk will hand you a paper boarding pass. Be sure to keep it as you need the document to board the plane (with your passport of course).

Do you go straight to security if you check-in online? ›

Depending on your destination your check in time may vary. Are you travelling with hand luggage only? If you are, you may be able to check in online for free and print off your boarding pass, so all you need to do when you arrive at the airport is go straight through security.

What airline is best for checking bags? ›

The results are fairly straightforward. Southwest charges absolutely no bag fees. American, Alaska, Delta and Hawaiian charge $30 for a checked bag, while JetBlue and United charge $35 for the same.

Can you pay for your luggage online? ›

Pay for your checked bags online within 24 hours of departure for travel on domestic flights within and between the U.S., including Hawaii and Alaska, and select markets in the Caribbean and Central America.

Does it cost more to check a bag at the gate? ›

How much does it cost to gate-check a bag? Unlike bags you check ahead of a flight, an airline will check any otherwise allowed carry-on bag at the gate for free, regardless of your fare type.

How can I get extra baggage for free? ›

Instead, there are a few things you can do to avoid paying baggage fees by preparing before you head to the airport. This includes signing up for the right credit card, enrolling in a paid loyalty program, or booking the right ticket class, but it varies from airline to airline.

Does American Airlines allow one free bag? ›

American Airlines (AA) allows 1 carry-on bag and 1 personal item (purse, briefcase, laptop bag) per passenger fee free. Carry-on should not exceed the following size and weight restrictions: 45 linear inches (22 x 14 x 9 in) or 115 centimeters (56 x 36 x 23 cm) including handles and wheels.

Can I bring 2 backpacks on American Airlines? ›

Personal items and American Airlines

In addition to a carry-on bag, American Airlines allows passengers to carry one personal item, such as a small backpack, laptop bag, camera bag, briefcase, or purse. No matter what kind of personal item you choose, it must be able to fit securely underneath the seat in front of you.

What does 2 free checked bags mean? ›

With the Southwest baggage rules, your first two checked bags are free as long as they fit within the allowed weight and size limits. Specifically, each checked bag should weigh 50 pounds or less and be 62 inches in size (the sum of the bag's length, width and height) or smaller. Email address.

Can you bring a purse and a backpack on a plane? ›

Most airlines allow passengers to bring on both a carry-on and a personal item like a backpack, laptop bag, purse, briefcase, shopping bag, etc. The general rule of thumb is that your personal item is smaller in dimension than your carry-on bag and it can fit underneath the seat in front of you.

Is a duffel bag a carry-on? ›

Can You Use a Duffle Bag as a Carry On ? Yes. As long as your duffle bag is within the airline's size requirements for carry on luggage, you can use a duffle bag as a carry on item.

What happens if my bag is over 50 American Airlines? ›

American Airlines overweight baggage is considered any bag weighing more than 50lbs. The fees for checking overweight baggage are $100 for bags weighing 51-70lbs and $200 for bags weighing 71-100lbs. These fees are charged in addition to any standard, excess or oversized baggage fees.

How many bags can I take on American Airlines for free? ›

1 personal item and 1 carry-on.

Is it cheaper to add baggage after booking? ›

It's nearly always cheaper to book extra hold luggage in advance rather than paying excess baggage fees at the airport. Airlines know that keeping within weight/size limits is not always possible, so they encourage you to plan ahead by selling extra weight online.

Does it cost more to check bags at the airport than online? ›

Luggage fees

The sure-fire way to avoid this fee is to travel with a carry-on bag only. However, if you simply cannot do without your checked luggage, try to pay for the bag online, as it is typically much cheaper to purchase your bag on the airline's website rather than pay up front at the check-in counter.

What airlines allow 2 free checked bags? ›

Southwest is the only airline that provides 2 FREE CHECKED BAGS for all fares.

How strict is American Airlines with checked baggage weight? ›

Checked bags weighing 51 to 70 pounds will cost an additional $100, and bags weighing 71 to 100 pounds will cost an extra $200-$450, depending on your itinerary. Bags weighing more than 100 pounds are never accepted on American Airlines, and bags weighing more than 70 pounds aren't accepted on flights to Europe.


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