How Does the Free Checked Bag Perk Work With Citi American Airlines Cards?

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Million Mile Secrets reader, Joey, commented:

I took a last minute flight to Reno from Phoenix to ski some fresh snow.  I redeemed 4,500 British Airways Avios points for an award flight instead of paying $350 each way.

However, I was expecting to get a free checked bag on American Airlines because I have the Barclaycard Aviator MasterCard and the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select card.

Do you know if the free checked bag benefit applies on American Airlines flights booked with British Airways Avios points?  Or am I booking it wrong?  Any help on getting the free bag on American Airlines would be appreciated.

Thanks for the question, Joey!

How Does The Free Checked Bag Perk Work With Citi American Airlines Cards
It’s Not Fun to Think You’ll Get a Free Checked Bag Only to Pay for It Once You Get to the Airport! I’ll Explain How to Make Sure You Get the Perk!
To get your 1st bag checked free, make sure you add your American Airlines frequent flyer number to your reservation at least 7 days before you depart.

I’ll give you tips on how to make the most of this benefit!

When Do You Get a Free Checked Bag?

Link:   Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

Link:   CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

Link:   Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®

Some credit cards, like the Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage cardCiti AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, and CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select card, come with 1 free checked bag as part of the card’s benefits.

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

But Joey booked an American Airlines flight with British Airways Avios points and did NOT get a free checked bag when he flew.  Why?

How Does The Free Checked Bag Perk Work With Citi American Airlines Cards
You’ll Only Get a Free Checked Bag on Flights Departing More Than 7 Days Away, and With Your American Airlines Loyalty Number on the Reservation – Even When You Book on Partner Airlines

Citi says:

“For benefit to apply, the Citi / AAdvantage account must be open 7 days prior to air travel, and reservation must include the primary cardmember’s American Airlines AAdvantage number 7 days prior to air travel.”

The same rule applies for Barclaycard Aviator cards (not available for new sign-ups).

In Joey’s case, it sounds like he took off sooner than 7 days after he booked his award flight.

Remember, only reservations with your American Airlines frequent flyer number attached 7 days before departure will get you a free checked bag.

And just in case, here’s my step-by-step guide on how to add your American Airlines number to British Airways award flights.

Other Tips to Keep in Mind!

Checking your bag free is a valuable perk that can save you a lot of money, especially if you fly often or have a big family.

To make the most of the benefit, remember these tips!

1.   You Don’t Have to Pay With the Card

Some cards, like the Chase United MileagePlus Explorer, require you to pay for your ticket with the card to get a free checked bag.  But NOT the Citi American Airlines cards!

How Does The Free Checked Bag Perk Work With Citi American Airlines Cards
You Don’t Have to Pay With the Card to Get Your Free Bag!

It’s enough to simply have the card in good standing to receive the benefit.

Make sure the same American Airlines frequent flyer number is linked to your card, and your reservation.

2.   The Benefit Does NOT Apply for Authorized Users

I’ve written about the benefits of adding an authorized user, both for you and the person you add to your card.

In this case, free checked bag perk only applies to the primary cardholder.  That is, you!

Authorized users still get certain perks, though.  For example, authorized users of the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard will receive access to Admirals Club lounges.

And, if they decide to earn a card’s sign-bonus for themselves, they can apply for it on their own!

3.   Share Your Perk With Folks on the Same Flights

When you purchase tickets for friends or family, they’ll get a free checked bag too!

How Does The Free Checked Bag Perk Work With Citi American Airlines Cards
Bring the Family! Depending on Which Card You Have, You Can Get a Free Checked Bag for up to 8 Others on Your Itinerary

Just make sure they’re on the same reservation and flights as you are.  Folks with the Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage Card and CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select Card can use their perk for up to 4 people on the same itinerary.

And if you have the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, you can share your benefit with up to 8 people traveling with you!

4.   Don’t Go Overboard!

The free checked bag perk only applies for the standard baggage allowance.  That means if your bag is over the weight limit, you’ll have to pay excess baggage fees.

How Does The Free Checked Bag Perk Work With Citi American Airlines Cards
If Your Flight Comes With Complimentary Checked Luggage, You Can’t Check More for Free. And Make Sure Your Bag Meets the Standard Baggage Allowance

And if your itinerary already includes a checked bag, you can NOT use the perk to check a 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) bag free.  It only applies to the 1st checked bag.

Bottom Line

Joey, I hope that helps you understand more about when and how the free checked bag perk works on your CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select card!  Folks with the Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage card and Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard also get their 1st item checked free!

Remember to add your American Airlines frequent flyer number when you book flights (even through a partner airline like British Airways) at least 7 days before you fly, or you’ll have to pay for your bags when you check-in at the airport.

Thank you Joey for reading and commenting – enjoy your ski trip!

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