How Strict Is American Airlines With Carry-on size? 2024

You’ve booked your flight with American Airlines, and you’re ready to pack your bags. But wait, how strict is American Airlines with carry on size?

Will your suitcase fit in the overhead bin, or will you have to check it at the gate? And what if you’re flying basic economy, or on a regional jet?

Let’s find out.

How Strict Is American Airlines With Carry On Size?

American Airlines has a standard carry on size limit of 22 x 14 x 9 inches (56 x 36 x 23 cm), including handles and wheels. 

This applies to most flights and airplanes, except for some smaller planes that have limited overhead compartment space.

They don’t check each passenger bag, but if they do, your carry-on bag must fit in the sizer at the gate, or you may be asked to check it ( the sizer is 22.25 x 14 x 10 inches).

You can also bring one personal item, such as a purse, a small backpack, or laptop bag, that must fit under the seat in front of you.

The dimensions of your personal item should not be larger than 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 cm).

These are the basic guidelines, but there are some exceptions and variations depending on your fare type, destination, and aircraft.

If you’re booking basic economy, you’re only allowed one personal item, unless you’re an AAdvantage® elite member, an eligible AAdvantage® credit cardholder, or an Oneworld® elite member.

If you bring a large carry-on bag to the gate, you’ll have to pay a $35 checked bag fee plus a $25 gate handling charge. Huh!

You can check the AA bag limitations page for more details.

If you’re traveling on a regional flight or a smaller aircraft, such as an Embraer ERJ-145 or a Bombardier CRJ-200, you may have to gate check your carry-on bag, even if it meets the size requirements.

This is because these planes have smaller overhead bins that can only fit smaller bags.

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 

Can You Take An Oversized Carry-on With American Airlines?

So, what if you have a carry on bag that’s slightly larger than the allowed dimensions, or you’re not sure if it will fit in the sizer?

You can usually take a slightly oversized bag on AA without any issues “as long as it doesn’t look obviously large“.

You can try to squeeze it in the sizer, and hope that no one notices or cares.

But this is risky, though, because you may be caught and forced to check your bag at the gate, which could delay your boarding and cost you extra charges.

Plus, you might have to wait for your bag at the baggage claim, which could ruin your plans if you have a tight connecting flight or a short trip.

How Strict Is American Airlines With Carry-on Weight?

American Airlines does not have a weight limit for carry-on bags on most flights, except for some international flights.

Here is a reply from @AmericanAir customer service on X (formerly Twitter) replying to Johis that carry-on bags on AA flights don’t have weight restriction but size does matter.

How strict is american airlines with carry on

Taking Liquids on American Airlines Flights 

Similar to the majority of U.S. airlines, AA follows the TSA regulations.

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.

Final thoughts

As you can see, there is no simple yes or no to American Airlines’ carry on policy strictness, but to avoid any unpleasant surprises at the airport, it’s best to follow the airline rules for carry-on baggage.

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.