A Simple Mistake on an American Airlines Partner Award Booking Cost Me – Here’s How to Be Sure You’re Getting the Free Perks You Deserve

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I normally don’t check luggage because I hate waiting at the baggage claim after the flight.  But my wife and I needed to check a bag on our flight home for Christmas because of all the gifts we had to bring.

I wasn’t concerned about the $30 fee per one-way flight because between the two of us we have three American Airlines credit cards that have the free checked bag perk:

  • Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard®

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum and CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum 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.

But I made a simple mistake that ended up costing me $30.  It’s an easy flub to make and an even easier one to avoid – I’ll explain how below.

If you’re looking to save on your American Airlines checked bag fees, I suggest applying for the Citi American Airlines Platinum Select card because it also comes with a 10% miles rebate on award bookings (up to 10,000 miles per calendar year).  And the rebate is nearly instant, which makes it even more useful.

That said, the Citi American Airlines Business card has a much bigger intro bonus, and the Barclays American Airlines cards have a minuscule spending requirement (just make a single purchase in the first 90 days and pay the annual fee to earn the bonus).  So you’ll want to weigh your options.

At Least American Airlines Didn’t Charge Me Extra When My Bag Was 1 Pound Over Weight

How the American Airlines Free Checked Baggage Perk Works

When I book American Airlines award flights I often use British Airways Avios points because, in some situations, I can use fewer miles for the same seat.  If you’re not familiar with how this works or when it makes sense to use this method, check out this step-by-step guide on using British Airways Avios points for American Airlines flights.

But it gets a bit tricky when it comes to getting your checked bag fee waived…

With the American Airlines credit cards my wife and I have, we get 1 free checked bag for the cardholder and up to 4 companions traveling on the same itinerary.  This perk only applies to domestic flights operated by American Airlines and it doesn’t apply to overweight or oversized luggage.

This perk is automatically applied to any eligible flight that is associated with the same American Airlines loyalty account as the credit card.  But that means your American Airlines frequent flyer number must be attached to your reservation in order to get the baggage fee waived.

A Quick and Easy Way to Get a Free Checked Bag, Even on Partner Award Bookings

When you use British Airways Avios points to book American Airlines flights, your British Airways frequent flyer number will be attached to the flight, not your American Airlines number.  This is where I went wrong.

The workaround for this is to call British Airways after you make the reservation and have them add your American Airlines account number to your booking.  I’d paid the $30 checked bag fee on the outbound flight, and had called to make sure my frequent flyer number was added to my reservation before my return flight.  But for some reason, my American Airlines number never showed up on my booking.

It’s possible it didn’t work because I had already taken the first leg of my flight.  However, my wife didn’t have a frequent flyer number attached to her ticket, and after adding her American Airlines number at check-in she was able to check our bag for free.  So, if you’re flying with someone else on the same reservation (and they have a card with a free checked bag perk) it might be easier to just add their loyalty account number.

The terms of the free checked bag perk say that your American Airlines number needs to be added to your reservation at least 7 days before your flight for the benefit to apply.  But in my experience, I was able to add it during the check-in process and still get the baggage fee waived.

As of now, I’m going to email American Airlines and see if they’ll reimburse me for the fee.  Has anyone had success with getting an incorrectly charged baggage fee waived?

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Jason Stauffer was a writer for Million Mile Secrets where he covered points, miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels and general travel. His work has appeared in The Points Guy and NextAdvisor.

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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