Hop on board an American Airlines flight, and you'll be on one of the world's biggest airlines. Whether it's a basic economy flight to Mexico or business class to the Caribbean, it’s helpful to know the bag fees and baggage allowance before you check in so you don’t max out your credit card. Like all airlines, you're allowed to carry items onto the plane without having to check them through as baggage. To protect passengers' safety and comfort, American Airlines carry-on allowance limits the number, size and contents of carry-on bags.

How many carry on items are you allowed on American Airlines?

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You are allowed one personal carry-on luggage item and one carry-on bag when you board your American Airlines flight. A personal item can be a purse, small backpack, laptop bag, diaper bag or a similar item. You may also take checked bags but with a baggage fee based on whether you are on a domestic flight or going abroad to a foreign city or country like South America. Pets, kennels, child safety seats, musical instruments, sports equipment and strollers also count as carry-on baggage. Excess baggage will be counted as checked luggage.

What are the Carry on Size limits and Weight for American Airlines?

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American Airlines baggage rules state that your carry-on item can have a maximum dimensional length of 36 inches. Dimensional length is the sum of the object's length, height and width. The carry-on bag can have a maximum dimensional length of 45 inches and has a weight limit of up to 40 pounds, the maximum weight. They all must also fit into the sizer near check-in to know that they will eventually fit into the overhead bin on the plane. If any of these items do not meet the size restrictions and oversize the allotted dimensions, it will have to become part of your checked baggage.

TSA-Approved Contents

All items in your carry-on bag and personal item must adhere to the restrictions imposed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). For example, sharp objects such as razor blades and meat cleavers, as well as potentially flammable or explosive items such as flares or gas torches, are strictly banned. You also cannot take on bottles of liquid larger than 3.4 ounces, though exceptions are made for medication, breast milk and baby formula. Aerosols and gels are also not allowed. These restrictions are modified as new security alerts are released. Contact the TSA toll-free at (866) 289-9673 for further information.Medical Exceptions

Medical Exceptions

Medical exceptions to carry-on bag restrictions and limits are allowed for those with a diagnosed medical problem. For example, you are allowed to bring an oxygen tank despite its size and explosive compressed contents. Such exceptions must be brought to American Airlines' attention at least 48 hours in advance by calling the airline's reservation line at (800) 433-7300.

Destination-Specific Limits

Your country of origin and your destination may modify American Airlines' standard polices regarding carry-on bags. For example, travelers flying within the United States can bring liquids on board if they were purchased from within the secure concourse, while those flying on international flights to Brazil, India and Central America cannot. Consult American Airlines for the latest policy amendments if you are flying outside of North America.What is the pet policy for American Airlines?

What is the pet policy for American Airlines?

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American Airlines allows you to carry-on your dog or cat as a substitute for your standard carry-on bag. This practice is governed by American Airlines' baggage policy. In general, your pet carrier must meet various size and weight restrictions set by the airline and must weigh 20 pounds or less with your pet in it.

It seems restrictions on air travel get tighter and tighter. First you had to take off your shoes at security; then you couldn't take liquids on the plane with you; then airports introduced full-body scanners. It's hard to keep track of what is and isn't allowed. American Airlines, which in 2009 was second only to Southwest in its number of passengers, has carry-on rules that may vary slightly from those of other domestic carriers.

Allowed Extras

American allows several other items that do not count toward the two-bag limit. These include coats and other outerwear; approved safety seats for children; a pillow or blanket; an umbrella-type stroller for children; diaper bags; and medically necessary devices such as wheelchairs, walkers, CPAP machines and oxygen. American will provide the oxygen.


If the U.S. government enacts rules that are more restrictive than American Airlines', those trump the carrier's. Airline employees may impose new limits depending on the plane's capacity, and may even do this after passengers have started boarding. In addition, the regulations may be more strict at certain airports. Be prepared before you fly, but also be prepared to be flexible.

You can travel the world with American Airlines, going everywhere from Japan to New York City. Before leaving home though, familiarize yourself with AA's policies regarding carry-on luggage and ensure everything you plan to bring on board doesn't exceed weight and size limits. Also, if you're a frequent flier, consider joining AA's mileage plan to save money on future flights.

Types of Restricted Items

Alcoholic beverages must be part of your checked baggage and cannot be more than 140 proof, according to the American Airlines website. Aerosols are only permitted in personal-use quantities in formulations such as hairspray and deodorant; any type of liquid in your carry-on baggage cannot weigh more than 3.4 ounces as stated on the product label. Plastic knives are allowed aboard; all other types of knives must be stowed in your checked luggage.

Checked Luggage Considerations

You can’t check laptops and similar electronics, nor can you check lithium batteries unless they are associated with your wheelchair, notes American Airlines. Most domestic flights charge nominal fees per bag unless you purchased a first-class ticket; some overseas flights allow all passengers to check at least one bag free of charge. If you have more than two checked bags or a bag weighs more than 50 lbs., you must pay an overweight baggage fee as determined by your flight itinerary.