How Strict Is American Airlines With Carry-on size? (2023)

So how strict are American airlines with carry on size? And will American Airlines inspect your bag size?

Before booking your ticket with AA there are some simple carry on rules that you need to know.

Generally your main carry-on bag needs to not exceed 22″ x 14″ x 9″ ( 56 x 36 x 23 cm ).

This baggage guideline has been compiled to give you a good glance and a general idea about how strict American airlines is on its baggage size, weight and charges, from the viewpoint of a viable guest.

american airlines carry on size
AA Carry On size – courtesy American Airlines

American Airlines carry on policy

American Airlines carry on standard baggage allowance includes 1 personal item and 1 carry-on for each guest. the main carry on size must not exceed 22 x 14 x 9 inches / 56 x 36 x 23 centimeters (including handles and wheels)
If your carry-on doesn’t fit in the overhead bin or under the seat, they may need to be checked. The personal items must fit under the seat in front of you or have a size of 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 cm).

carry on size American airlines

1 Carry-on bag

Your main carry-on bag size must not exceed 22 x 14 x 9 inches / 56 x 36 x 23 centimeters ( including handles and wheels ) and must fit the sizer at the airport.

The sizer in the airport will always have a few extra inches to play with, so even if your bag is 25 x 14 x 9 it can still fit in the sizer especially if it is a soft-sided bag, and as long as your bag fits in the size you won’t have any issues.

The bag must fit in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you.

1 Personal item

In addition to your main carry on bag you can also have a small personal item and it can be one of the following:

  • A purse
  • A small handbag
  • A laptop bag
  • A small backpack

The personal item needs to fit under the seat in front of you and the maximum dimensions should not exceed 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 cm).

Airlines will rarely inspect a personal item size, so the personal item plays a huge rule if you are traveling with a small carry on bag, so you can take a bag as long as it fits under the seat in front of you.

Diaper bags (1 per child), soft-sided cooler bags with breast milk, child safety or car seats, strollers and medical or mobility devices don’t count as your personal item or carry-on.

Suggested: How strict is American Airlines with personal item size?

Take Liquids on American Airlines 

Like the major US airlines the AA follows the TSA rules.

Liquids needed. to be 3.4 oz / 100 ml or less before placing them in a quart sized bag.

Baby food and medicines are exempted from the TSA liquid rules.

Find more rules on traveling with liquids in both carry-on and checked baggage.

Additional items 

In addition to your main carry on bag and personal item, you can also take a few items, and these items are not counted toward your allowed carry on.

These items can be:

  • Books to read during the flight
  • Medical assistive devices
  • An umbrella, coat
  • Infants safety seats 
How strict is american airlines with carry on-1
Courtesy AA Facebook

How Strict Is American Airlines With Carry on Size?

You won’t find any issues if you take a bag that is within the mentioned size limits above.

And there is a huge chance that your bag will be checked and slapped with a hefty fee if it is way oversized.

This will likely occur in a busy flight, but don’t take it too personal, it is just for safety reasons.

Airlines wanted to ensure your bag and everyone else bags are easily stored in the overhead bin.

If a bag doesn’t fit in the above compartment or under the airplane seat, it will block the movement of passengers and it is a huge risk too in case of an emergency.

How strict is american airlines with carry on

What If I Have An Oversized Carry on Bag?

If your bag is above the carry-on size and the bag didn’t fit in the sizer (if they measured it) then you may have a slight problem.

However, AA will not check in your carry on bag, if it fits the size but still little bigger than the allowed size.

AA is a little more generous with the depth of your bag because they know this is where suitcases often bulge or have expandable areas.

But if you are traveling with a large item, and more than one carry-on bag, you may be asked to put your baggage in the sizer, there is more chance that your bag will be transported as checked baggage, if it is so large.

American Airlines Carry-on Size Reddit

I checked Reddit to find some answers.

Lan wanted to purchase a carry-on bag, (which is H 20″ x L 14″ x W 9″ ) but he wanted to make sure it won’t gate checked because it might be slightly larger than the American Airlines carry-on size and other major US airlines.

Tariq answered him that it is OK if a carry-on is slightly bigger and as long as the suitcase doesn’t look obviously too large, the airline will not place it in the luggage sizer.

Tariq didn’t even know the measurement of his bag, because most airlines are not worried about half an inch.

Another guy replied that it mostly depend on the airline compartment size.

Even as standard carry-on bag will not be accepted on smaller commuter jets.

American Airlines Baggage Fees

If your bag is oversized or overweight you may end up paying more than a brand new suitcase.

Oversized bags

American airlines don’t accept checked bags over 126 in / 320 cm.

Fees (non-refundable, per person, each way)

Region62 in / 158 cm – 126 in / 320 cm
Between U.S., Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada$200
Mexico / Caribbean / Central America (except Panama)$200
South America and Panama$150
Europe (transatlantic)$150
China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Australia (transpacific)$200

Overweight bags

American Airlines will not accept a checked bag that is over 100 lbs / 45 kgs.

First and Business, Executive Platinum and OneWorld Emerald members can check bags up to 70 lbs / 32 kgs at no extra cost.

Fees (non-refundable, per person, each way)

Between U.S., Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada$100$200
Mexico / Caribbean / Central and South America$100$200 (Not accepted to / from Cuba)
Europe (transatlantic)$100Not accepted
China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Australia (transpacific)$100$450 (Not accepted to / from Australia)

*Seasonal and / or year-round checked bag limitations apply to some cities in Mexico, Caribbean, Central and South America.

Final Thoughts

There is a big chance, AA will be so strict about its carry on size especially on busy flights, please make sure that you adhere to the American airlines’ carry on rules and regulations.

However; if you have a bag that is just slightly bigger with a few inches it won’t be an issue as many passengers take items that are slightly oversized.

Soft sided bags and duffle bags are more likely to fit in the sizer even if they are above the airline size, and even if they are little big and filled to the brim.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I bring a backpack and a carry on American Airlines?

Yes, you can bring a small backpack and a carry-on bag, but your backpack must be placed properly under the seat in front of you.
AA allows one carry on bag and one personal item free of charge, your personal item can be one of the following (purse, briefcase, laptop bag, or a small backpack).

Does American Airlines allow pets?

When traveling with a pet, the kennel or container counts as your carry-on and the carry-on pet fee also applies.

Can you bring liquids on American Airlines?

TSA allows certain duty-free liquids through security in your carry-on bag if they’re packaged in a security tamper-evident bag. If you’re traveling with liquids or are unsure about any item, please contact the TSA.