If you’ve ever wondered how strict American Airlines is with its passenger luggage size and weight restrictions for carry-on items, you’re not alone. And what about “personal items”? For your questions in this regard, I will cover as many of them as I can in this article here.

How Strict Is American Airlines With Carry-On & Personal Item Size?

I will fill you in on American’s current rules and regulations and then answer common questions I hear about them.

If you need new carry-on bags, take a look at these American-compliant ones:

This great carry-on bag is for travelers that want to get the best value out of their luggage investment.

This Travel Pro bag could end up being the last carry-on bag you ever purchase! 

How Strict is American Airlines With Its Carry-on Luggage Policy?

How strict is American Airlines with its carry-on baggage policy?

It’s a frequently asked question from many current and would-be American Airlines passengers. 

American Airlines, like other carriers, must implement its own policies, taking into account Travel Safety Administration (TSA) requirements. American is considered to be relatively strict and will tell you that if you are allowed carry-on luggage, you’ll be limited to one primary piece along with a smaller personal item. American is more pursuant of passenger bags fitting into their sizer at the gate to ensure compliance with their policies. 

Carry-on luggage items have size restrictions, but not weight restrictions, and are typically stowed in the luggage bins overhead of passenger seats. Personal items typically are stowed underneath the seat of each passenger, though they may need to go in the overhead bin, as well. 

Including handles and wheels, your carry-on luggage on American Airlines flights are not to exceed 

22” l x 14” w x 9” h (56 x 36 x 23 cm)
51 total linear inches (l + w + h) or 130 linear centimeters total is allowed for soft-sided carry-on bags.
Carry-on items any larger than these dimensions will need to be checked, even if at the gate during boarding.

Take some preemptive cautionary steps beforehand and invest in some American-compliant carry-on luggage, so that you can travel in peace and quiet.

American-compliant Luggage Recommendations

What carry-on luggage would I recommend for flying with American Airlines? I personally recommend the following American-compliant carry-on luggage bags because of the airline’s strictness with its luggage policies. 

This great carry-on bag is for travelers that want to get the most value out of their travel baggage investment.

This Travel Pro bag is one you’ll love, and maybe the last carry-on bag you ever purchase! 

American Airlines’ Carry-on Luggage Allowance

American Airlines passengers are allowed to bring one carry-on item and one personal item on board its flights.

If your carry-on bag has been deemed to be in excess of baggage dimension requirements (it should be able to fit in an overhead luggage bin or underneath the seat in front of you), there’s a good chance you’ll have to check it.  

Bringing Carry-on Liquid Items Onto American Airlines Flights

You are allowed to bring liquid items onboard American Airlines flights per TSA regulations, as long as they make it through security checkpoints. 

Liquid items in question include your toiletries and all other liquids and creams you may want to pack along. The TSA allows containers/bottles with no more than 3.4 fl. oz. / 100 fl. ml.

These liquid toiletries/items also need to be packed neatly into a re-sealable clear Ziploc-style plastic baggie, like these gallon size baggies. Your baggie can’t be any larger than 7.8 x 7.8 inches (20 x 20 centimeters).

You’ll find plenty more information here on our TravelontheFly site about what items you are and aren’t allowed to bring on a plane with you.

You may also want to verify these requirements with the TSA’s website

How Strict Is American Airlines With Your Carry-on Size?

As long as your item(s) fit in the overhead bin above you or underneath the seat in front of you, you should be fine.

To make your flight as worry-free as possible I’d suggest complying with their policies instead of trying to get away with what you can. If you need a new carry-on bag that will fit American’s (and other carriers’) guidelines, get this bag and never worry about it again.

How Strict Is American Airlines With Your Carry-on Baggage Weight?

American, and most, if not all other airlines, are not concerned with carry-on/personal item weight. They will only concern themselves with spaces in the cabin where carry-on items should be able to be stowed comfortably. Meeting the size dimensions of your carry-on bags I mentioned above are your only concern.

Should I Risk Flying on American Airlines With an Oversized Carry-on?

Without fail, seasoned travelers will ask you, “Why risk it?” And I would have to agree with them. But know that if your bag is only slightly larger than American Airlines’ specified size dimensions, you’ll likely be OK. Worst-case scenario if your carry-on is too large, is that you will have to check your bag at the gate.

PRO TIP – You have a better chance of getting away with a slightly larger piece of luggage if your carry-on is soft-sided. That‘s why I have highlighted and pointed you toward soft-sided bags like this one here. They are a little easier to squeeze into tight spots, including into the overhead bins on a plane!

American Airlines Checked Baggage Fees

You may check up to 10 bags on most American flights, though without certain American traveler statuses, you’ll likely have to pay their checked bag fee. The first checked bag fee for American flights is $30, and $40 for the 2nd one. It goes up from there.

First and second checked bags are free for Confirmed Business, Confirmed Premium Economy, and Confirmed Domestic First passengers, along with others, including various types of AAdvantage Platinum® cards, members of the military, and Confirmed Flagship® First passengers. 

I travel with a bag that is slightly larger than many airline regulations and I have never been asked to check it. I can’t guarantee that you won’t be asked to.

Your best bet is to travel with baggage that is within American’s size regulations, and then you will never have to worry about it!

You can read more about American Airlines’ checked bag policies here, relevant to a specific upcoming flight.

Where Can I Find a Quality Travel Bag That’s Within American Airlines’ Carry-on Luggage Limits?

I recommend this great carry-on bag that is a great value for the money.

And this Travel Pro bag is more than enough for even the pickiest travelers. 

How Strict Is American Airlines With Its “One Personal Item” Policy?

As long as your personal item can easily be carried and stored underneath the seat in front of you or in the overhead luggage bin, American Airlines representatives probably won’t ask to verify its size.

American Airlines’ Personal Item Policy

Your personal item ( e.g., purse, shoulder bag, backpack, diaper bag, etc.) must fit under the seat in front of you, and dimensions should not exceed 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 cm). Read more about personal items on American Airlines flights here

Carrying Additional Items Onto American Airlines Flights

In addition to your carry-on bag and personal item, you are also allowed to bring small items, such as a jacket/sweatshirt, blanket, umbrella, book, duty-free items, a reasonably sized stuffed animal, food/drink purchased past the security checkpoint, crutches, strollers, camera, etc. 

Personal items include slightly larger things that will take up space overhead or underneath a seat, like purses, shoulder bags, backpacks, briefcases, large camera cases, etc.

Is the First Checked Bag Free on American Airlines Flights?

Unless you have certain American Airlines-branded credit cards (e.g., eligible AAdvantage® Aviator® and Citi® / AAdvantage®) or other elite traveler statuses, the first checked bag for passengers is $30, and $40 for the 2nd one. You may check up to 10 bags on most American flights, but the pricing for each additional bag increases. 

Checked bags on American flights are expected to weigh between 50 and 70 lbs before additional fees begin to be incurred.

Read more about American Airlines’ checked bag policy here.

American Airlines will not transport bags in excess of 100 lbs (45 kg).

So, How Strict is American Airlines About Carry-on and Personal Items?

All American Airlines passengers are allowed one carry-on bag and one personal item per TSA regulations. Both items should be able to fit in an overhead luggage bin, or one of them should be able to fit underneath the seat in front of you. Invest in carry-on baggage that complies with American Airlines’ regulations, like this one. In case you choose to take this risk with American by bringing a larger bag, be sure to at least use a soft-sided bag so you’ll be able to better navigate it into a tight space.

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