American Airlines Is Now Charging $40 for Checked Bags

Here's how American's increased baggage fee compares to other major airlines.

A check-in gate employee attaches a luggage tag to suitcase of passenger with a closeup of hands.

One of the top expert predictions for 2024 travel was that the cost of checking a bag was only going to get higher. And unlike Nate Silver's predictions for the 2016 presidential election, this travel forecasting was 100% on the money.

Late last year, Going predicted that checked bag fees would rise from the 2023 average of $30 per bag up to $35 per bag. We're only in the second month of the year and already, American Airlines is upping the price of checked bag fees—and it's going to be more expensive than the predicted average.

As of February 20, the airline will raise its base fee for the first checked bag from $35 up to $40, and a second checked bag will increase from $40 to $45. These fees will apply to travel within and between the US, Puerto Rico, and US Virgin Islands. You can pay the lower prices for checking bags by paying online, instead of at the desk.

For travel to and from Canada, Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and Guyana, American Airlines will charge $35 for the first checked bag and $45 for the second checked bag. There are exceptions and circumstances for complimentary checked luggage with American, based on destination, airline loyalty status, and active military status. You can check the details on these qualifications for free checked bags on the American Airlines website.

Right now, here's how much you'll pay to check your first bag on domestic flights on other major US airlines:

  • United: $35
  • Delta: $30
  • JetBlue: $35
  • Alaska Airlines: $30
  • Southwest Airlines: $0

This definitely pegs American Airlines as the most expensive US airline for checking a bag, but based on expert predictions and the increased amount of luggage on planes these days—an amount planes were not designed to handle—American will likely not be alone in charging $40 for the first checked bag by the end of the year.

And remember, the $40 pricetag is only for bags paid for at the airport. You can save yourself $5 if you check your bag online in advance.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. She holds a bachelor's and master's degree in Journalism from NYU's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. She's worked in digital media for eight years, and before working at Thrillist, she wrote for Mic, The Cut, The Fader, Vice, and other publications. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.