What to know about American Airlines’ new policy changes: Checked bag fees, luggage size, earning loyalty points and miles


(NEW YORK) — Delta made waves last year in announcing sweeping policy changes to its loyalty program, and now American Airlines has followed suit with changes of its own that will impact how travelers earn frequent-flyer points, as well as how much they pay for checked bags.

On Tuesday, the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier announced increased costs for checked bags both online and at the airport.

In a push to get more flyers to book directly with American Airlines, the carrier is also “[updating] the way customers earn AAdvantage miles and Loyalty Points on flights, depending on where they book.”

Vasu Raja, American’s chief commercial officer, said in a statement that “the best fares” will come when booking directly with the airline, adding that the shift in policy will be most rewarding for members of its AAdvantage program.

American Airlines’ new bag fees

Previously, a passenger’s first checked bag on domestic flights cost $30. The airline has now raised that fee to $35 when purchased online, or $40 when purchased at the airport. A second checked item will cost $45, another $5 increase, both online and at the airport.

The changes will go into affect for flights booked on or after Feb. 20 for travel within the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

There are a few exceptions: Passengers with status in the AAdvantage loyalty program, those who use an American-branded credit card, and those who buy a premium-class ticket will continue to receive complimentary bags on domestic and international flights.

American also offers complimentary bags to active-duty U.S. military personnel on all American flights.

The airline last raised its bag fees in 2018.

American Airlines lowers fees for oversize, overweight checked bags

In a bright spot for American customers, the airline has introduced its lowest fee ever for checked items that are only a few pounds heavier or a few inches larger than a standard bag, which the airline said can “result in savings of more than $350 for some customers.”

American will also reduce the oversize checked baggage limit to 115 linear inches.

For bags over the weight limit between 50-53 pounds, the new fee will be $30, and overweight bags between 53-70 pounds will be charged a fee of $100 to $200. Bags weighing between 70-100 pounds will still be charged $450.

For bags that are over the size limit, between 62-65 linear inches, passengers will be charged a new fee of $30, with bags between 65-115 linear inches charged $150 to $200.

Previously, customers were charged $100 to $200 extra for overweight bags between 50-70 pounds, and all oversize bags between 62-126 linear inches were charged an extra $150 to $200.

Additionally, bags that are both oversized and overweight will now be charged a single fee, rather than two separate fees, ranging from $30 to $450, depending on size and weight.

The lower costs and simpler fee structure for oversize and overweight checked items will go into effect for travel on or after April 17.

Additionally, the airline has said it will no longer allow javelins, pole vaults or hang gliders to be checked starting April 17.

American Airlines updates how flyers earn AAdvantage miles, loyalty points

American is also updating the way customers can earn AAdvantage miles and Loyalty Points on flights, which is contingent upon where they book, “starting with tickets issued on May 1, 2024.”

How to ensure you’re earning miles and Loyalty Points

In order to earn points in the AAdvantage loyalty program, American Airlines said most customers will be required to purchase tickets directly from the airline or its eligible partner carriers. Additionally, Basic Economy fare tickets will only earn points when the flight is booked directly with American or its eligible partners.

Customers can book travel anywhere as an AAdvantage Business member or contracted corporate traveler to keep earning points and miles. Corporate travelers won’t be affected by this change, the airline stated.

American said it will share a list of eligible preferred agencies on aa.com in late April, for customers who wish to book through those travel agencies to earn miles and points.

American Airlines loyalty members, credit card holder benefits

Certain AAdvantage members and credit card holders will still receive important benefits, such as complimentary bags on American Airlines flights.

AAdvantage members who book directly with the airline will also receive benefits like same-day standby and Trip Credit for canceled flights.

The airline said that booking directly will also help loyalty members reach AAdvantage status and unlock rewards faster.

Finally, for tickets purchased on or after Feb. 20, the pet-in-cabin fee will be $150. 

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.