American Airlines carry-on baggage policies

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Even as a young traveler, my parents always encouraged me to “travel light” with just a carryon. Reduced wait times, less risk of baggage loss, no bag fees, and the comfort of always having your belongings nearby!

I stand by this strategy today (when possible), so I’m deeply invested in knowing and understanding airlines’ carry-on baggage rules. For American Airlines, in particular, I hope this breakdown of their carry-on requirements can be a helpful guide for your next trip on American Airlines.

Size restrictions

American Airlines has listed size restrictions for both carry-on baggage as well as personal items. The posted size limits are as follows:

  • Carry-on baggage can be no larger than 22 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches
  • Personal (under seat) item must be no larger than 18 inches x 14 inches x 8 inches

Although these are the posted size restrictions, they are slightly more flexible in practice. You can check out our carry-on luggage size chart for all of the major airlines here. But you’ll find more on the size enforcement from American Airlines below.

Weight restrictions

Thankfully, American Airlines has no posted weight limits for carry-on baggage or personal items. This means you can carry on your heaviest items to avoid paying additional fees for overweight checked baggage (anything above 50 lbs).

That being said, your bags must still be within the above size restrictions and you should be able to lift your carry-on baggage without needing assistance.

Restricted objects

Additionally, American Airlines (as well as other airlines, as enforced by the TSA) restricts certain objects from carry-on bags. These restricted objects include:

  • Sharp objects such as metal knives or box cutters
  • Lithium batteries
  • Mace, Tear-Gas, or Pepper Spray
  • Explosives or firearms of any kind
  • Marijuana
  • Aerosol sprays or gasses

Keep in mind that this is not a comprehensive list, but the full list of restricted items can be found on AA’s website. If you must check a bag because you have an item restricted from carry-on bags, you can get a free checked bag with a card like the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®. Or you could use a card that offers annual travel credits, like The Platinum Card® from American Express, to cover costs including baggage fees.

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


How strict is American Airlines on carry-on size?

Typically, gate agents and American Airlines flight attendants are reasonable when it comes to carry-on luggage size. If your bag looks within the size guideline, you will not typically be asked to verify its sizing. That being said, if you are caught with a bag over the size limitations, you may be required to check it and pay the associated fee.

Do backpacks count as personal items for American Airlines?

Standard sized backpacks will often pass as a traveler’s “personal item” when flying on American Airlines. But if your backpack is technically larger than 18 x 4 x 8 inches, you may not be allowed an additional carry-on bag.

Does American Airlines charge for carry-on items?

All fares on American airlines include one carry-on bag as well as a personal item. The airline previously restricted carry-on baggage for their lowest (basic economy) fares but has since done away with that limitation.

Featured image by  l i g h t p o e t/Shuttersock.

Jake Pearring is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, he covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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