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If you’re planning to travel with just a carry-on, you’ll need to be up to speed with airline carry-on policies. Specifically, the various rules and regulations each carrier has for what you can and cannot “carry on” to the plane. Each airline’s rules are different, so don’t just assume that what works for one will work for all airlines.
In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about American Airlines’ carry-on policy. This includes American’s carry-on size and weight limits, liquid policy, personal items, pets, prohibited items, and other rules and restrictions you should know before boarding your flight.
American Airlines Carry-On Size & Weight Limit
American Airlines allows one personal item and one carry-on bag at no charge. The only restriction is that one of the items must be small enough to be stored under the seat in front of you.
American Airlines Carry-On Size (Dimensions)
American Airlines carry-on dimensions are 22″ x 14″ x 9″.
If you aren’t sure what size your carry-on is, American typically provides “size check templates” located at their ticketing counters and departure gates. But if you wait until you get to either of these locations and have an issue, it’s too late.
Garment Bag Size on American Airlines
Soft-sided garment bags up to 51 inches / 130 cm (length + width + height) can also be taken as your carry-on item.
American Airlines Carry-On Weight Restriction
As a rule, American Airlines does not impose weight restrictions on carry-on bags.
Recommended Carry-On Bag When Flying AA
If you are looking for a great carry-on bag when flying American, I recommend the Travelpro Maxlite 5 Expandable Spinner. I have used this carry-on for years. It’s durable, reasonably priced, and holds everything I need for shorter trips. Plus the spinner wheels make it very easy to get through the airport quickly and effortlessly.
4-wheel spinners rotate 360°.
- H: 21 in. W: 14 in. D: 9 in.
- Weight: 5.4 lbs.
This carry-on bag has been sizer bin tested to accommodate overhead bin space on most major US airlines. Fully expanded Carry-On may not meet airline restrictions.
American Airlines Personal Item Size
Diaper bags (1 per child), soft-sided cooler bags with breast milk, child safety seats, strollers, and medical or mobility devices don’t count as your personal item or carry-on.
Rules for American Eagle Regional Flights
American Airlines regional aircraft have limited overhead space. If your carry-on is larger than the personal item dimensions, you must gate-check your bag before boarding.
Carry-on bags within American Airlines’ size restrictions will be gate checked, free of charge, during the boarding process and returned upon deplaning. Depending on the time of year and where you are flying, this will give you the opportunity to hang out with 50 of your newest friends in either a steaming hot or freezing cold jet bridge. Fun!
Despite this “official rule” there are some bags you can carry on a regional jet. Check out this article on the best carry-on luggage for regional jets.
American Airlines Carry-On Liquid Limit
The rules for carry-on liquids are set by the TSA (Transportation Security Administration), not by the airline. American Airlines doesn’t have its own specific Liquids Policy, they just enforce the rules and policies of the TSA.
It’s also important to note that the rules for bringing a “liquid” in your carry-on bag are different from the rules that govern what you can bring in your checked luggage. Liquids in a carry-on bag must be 3.4 ounces or smaller and fit in a 1 quart-sized container. Anything larger must be placed in your checked luggage.
- All liquids, gels, pastes, and aerosols must be in a container of 3.4 ounces or smaller.
- All liquids must be in a resealable quart-sized clear plastic bag that is removed from your carry-on during the TSA screening process.
- Special exceptions are in place for items such as medication, formula, breast milk, etc.
- Food and Drinks purchased once you have cleared TSA checkpoints are not included in these restrictions.
The TSA 3-1-1 Rule
The TSA 3-1-1 rule provides the parameters for how passengers can bring liquids on an airplane in their carry-on.
Each passenger may carry liquids, gels, and aerosols in travel-size containers that are 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters. Each passenger is limited to one quart-size bag of liquids, gels, and aerosols. Common travel items that must comply with the 3-1-1 liquids rule include toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, perfume, mouthwash, deodorant, and lotion.
Any liquid that does not meet the TSA 3-1-1 rule will either have to be checked with your luggage or will be thrown away at the security checkpoint.
American Carry-On Food Policy
The TSA also sets the rules for what type of food you can bring on the plane. There are two different scenarios pertaining to food:
- The food you bring with you from home, and
- The food you buy at the airport after you have gone through security.
When bringing food with you from home, an important thing to note is the classification of liquid vs. solid foods.
The general rule is “If you can spill it, spread it, spray it, pump it, or pour it, then it’s considered a liquid or gel”. This means your food may be considered a liquid and will fall under the TSA 3-1-1 liquids rule, which mandates that any liquid, gel, cream, aerosol, or paste in a carry-on must be 3.4 ounces or less, and fit in one quart-size resealable bag (only one such bag is allowed per passenger).
Here’s a link to the TSA website advising what food can be brought with you on your American Airlines flight. This applies to food you are bringing from home through security. Once you get through security, you can bring just about any food on the plane that you buy at the airport.
American Airlines Carry-On Pet Policy
On American flights, you can bring 1 kennel as your carry-on bag if:
- You pay the carry-on pet charge
- Your pet stays in the kennel and under the seat in front of you the entire flight
You can travel with your pet carrier and one personal item, but you won’t be permitted to bring a carry-on bag in addition to a pet carrier and personal item. Instead, the kennel will replace your carry-on bag.
Carry-On Pet Fees
Here is a chart showing the pet fees American Airlines charges each way. Double them for a round-trip flight.
|To/From Destination||Pet Fee Each Way|
|Within and between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central America, Colombia, and the Caribbean (based on specific country’s entry policies)||$ 125.00|
Service animals have some separate guidelines. Here is a link to AA’s service animal rules.
TSA Approved Pet Carriers
I have traveled with 2 dogs over the last 10 years, one was a 20 lb. Shih Tzu-Bichon (in the picture above) and another is a 12lb. Chihuahua mix. We used the Sherpa pet carrier when bringing them on a flight with us and it worked great!
Features mesh panels so your pet can breathe easily, a non-slip shoulder strap, locking zippers, and a rear storage pocket for treats and other goodies.
Approved for use on most major airlines and the small and medium sizes are included in Sherpa's exclusive Guaranteed on Board program.
Prohibited or Restricted Items
There are certain items that are considered dangerous and classified as hazardous materials. Dangerous goods are prohibited from both your carry-on and checked bag on all flights. These rules are not specific to any airline and are mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Here is a list of items that are considered dangerous goods and are strictly prohibited on American Airlines flights:
- Firearms and ammunition
- Self-defense sprays, such as mace and pepper spray
- Explosives, including fireworks and flares
- Flammable liquids, including gasoline, lighter fluid, and kerosene
- Poisonous, infectious, or radioactive substances
- Knives and sharp objects (pocket knives, cutting instruments, razors, ice picks, carpet knives, metal scissors, box cutters, or similar items)
- Any alcoholic beverage with more than 70 percent alcohol
- Camping equipment containing flammable liquids or gasses
- Hoverboards, including electric skateboards, balance boards, gravity boards, and self-balancing devices
- Medical or liquid oxygen
- Torch lighters, lighter fluid, strike-anywhere matches, and fire starters
- Wet-cell batteries
The following items are not considered “dangerous goods” and are allowed when packaged properly, in accordance with TSA regulations:
- Hiking or trekking poles
- Hair dryer/Straightener
- Hair spray
- Sunscreen/bug spray
- Food as a carry-on
- Fishing hooks
- Fragile glass items
It’s important to note that this is not an exhaustive list and that the TSA’s rules and regulations are subject to change. Additional prohibited or restricted goods and materials can be found in the following resources:
Summary: American Airlines Carry-On Policy
In conclusion, American Airlines’ carry-on rules are important to consider before packing for a trip and heading to the airport. They have size restrictions for carry-on bags, so it’s important to check the dimensions and weight of your luggage before arriving at the airport.
Here is a link to American’s Carry-On page to make sure you have the most up-to-date information.
Frequently Asked Questions about AA’s Carry-on Policy
There is no charge to carry a bag when you buy an American Airlines Basic Economy fare. The carry-on rules are the same for all classes of service. However, with a Basic Economy ticket, you will be one of the last to board, so overhead space will be limited.
Yes. As long as your backpack is less than 8 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 cm), it will qualify as a personal item and can be brought on board without a fee.
No. Pepper spray is not allowed as a carry-on