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AA carry on / carryon baggage rules & enforcement (master thd)

Old Nov 21, 16, 9:48 pm
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Last edit by: JDiver
American Airlines Carry-On Baggage Limits
Strict enforcement directive issued 28 August 2015)
American Airlines Carry-on baggage (link)

Q. Why is AA suddenly becoming so picky about sizing bags?

A. AA formulates carry on baggage policy that meets FAA criteria as well as airline established criteria; these are submitted to the FAA and if approved become the airline's policy. If the airline repeatedly violated their FAA-approved policy, they can be held accountable by the FAA. Recently, during an FAA audit, AA was found to be violating its FAA-approved carry on policy.

What can I carry on?

You can bring 1 carry-on bag and 1 personal item per person (exception: infants. Exception: some regional aircraft have insufficient bin space for otherwise "legal" bags, so carry-on bags might be limited, or even prohibited. If the latter, they will usually be "valet checked" airside and delivered at the jetway before you enter the gate area.

Carry-on bag

Your carry-on bag should be:
  • Up to 45 inches (22 x 14 x 9 in or 115 centimeters (23 x 36 x 56 cm) including handles and wheels
  • Able to fit comfortably into the sizer weve provided at the airport
  • Please note, youll also need to be able to lift your bag into the overhead bin
You can travel with horizontal rolling and/or hanging garment bags as your carry-on bag if:
  • They fit comfortably in the bag sizer
  • They measure up to 22" length x 14" width x 9" height or 115cm (56 x 36 x 23 cm)
You can also carry on a soft-sided garment bag of up to 51in or 130cm (length + width + height)

Personal item

Your personal item must be smaller than your carry-on, able to fit under the seat in front of you and can include:
  • A purse
  • A briefcase
  • A laptop bag
  • Similar items such as a tote
Additional allowed items

You can also bring:
  • Outerwear such as coats, wraps and hats
  • A book or newspaper
  • A small bag of food to eat on the flight
  • An approved safety seat for a lap or ticketed child
  • A pillow or blanket
  • An umbrella stroller for a lap or ticketed child
  • A diaper bag for a lap or ticketed child
  • Duty free items
  • Assistive devices (e.g. wheelchairs, walkers, portable oxygen concentrators, CPAP machines etc.)
  • Breast pump
Liquids and restricted items

TSA allows certain duty-free liquids through security in your carry-on bag if theyre properly packaged in a security tamper-evident bag (STEB). If youre traveling with liquids or are unsure about any item, please contact the TSA.

For more, e.g. special items, etc. please use link
Originally Posted by alien View Post
22 x 14 x 10

So today I took measurements of the sizer at my airport... There is obviously some slippage and subjectivity in the eye of (s)he who must be obeyed due to the open ended 1/4" lines outlining the baggage dimensions placed either horizontally or vertically. But, strictly speaking, the outside edge of the lines are 22' and 14". The depth is a definitive full 10 inches from the back board to the inner side of the metal tube running low laterally across the front of the sizer. This is the current sizer that I measured:


22 x 14 x 10

...We are given a 22 x 14 x 9 but there is some room to maneuver. We have 22" and 14" with a very subjective but limited amount of slippage. And there is definitely 10" of depth.

The subjectivity would be greatly reduced if the sizers were constructed, as Delta's, to form a full sided box.

Those on the margin should really test their bags in advance in all of the different positions to see which allows the most favorable view of its size if required to use the sizer at the gate.
See


AA e-mail to customer re: carry on baggage

and


Comparison of USA airlines carry-on limits Apr '25 by Outdoor Gear Lab

and


Airline carry on variances and the new IATA recommended standard

and


New IATA recommended standard vs. current common


[/CENTER]
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AA carry on / carryon baggage rules & enforcement (master thd)

Old Aug 14, 19, 8:51 am
  #1171  
 
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Originally Posted by Dave Noble View Post
That sounds like 3 pieces to me and 2 is the limit. One piece overhead + 1 piece under the seat
And I had exactly 1 item overhead and 1 item under the seat. And the jacket that they hang in the wardrobe. The fact that it was covered seems to have made the difference then (at least to these two people, not to the hundreds of others). OK, that answers that question.

Originally Posted by Dave Noble View Post
Checking the bag to final destination is correct. If you don't want an issue, just wear the coat rather than take it as luggage
I recognise how putting the jacket on complies with the rule, but now with the spirit of the rule, which is to limit cabin luggage to two pieces for overhead/under seat. Whether I wear that jacket or carry it myself will not take more or less space overhead/under the seat, and take up as much space in the wardrobe. I get it, I'll behave accordingly, but I find it absurd.

Except that she refused to check it to final destination. Just to intermediate stop.And: why did the chap in ORD allow me to drop my "third" piece at the aircraft door? Would have been more than happy to do that on the other flight as well.

Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
You tried to take three carry-ons onboard when the rules only permit two. You got caught.

The difference between "gate checking" and "valet checking" is that the former is the same as checking a bag at the coutner, e.g., the bag is checked to the final ticketed destination. The latter is a service on very small aircraft which do not have the capacity to handle standard carry-ons in the OH bins. In those situations, bags are dropped planeside (or in the jetway) and returned on arrival planeside (or in the jetway).
I know the difference. I did get the valet check on the ORD-DFW leg, which was a Boeing 737-800, which doesn't fall into my definition of a very small aircraft (an ERJ or CRJ would). So why in one situation the "third item" can be valet checked but in another it has to be gate checked remains a mystery.

Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
The bottom line is that AA has done a very good job lately of enforcing its own rules, thereby speeding up the boarding process and providing a better opportunity for all passengers to access the OH.
How does it speed up boarding if only to pass the BP scanner I have to put my jacket into my suitcase and then, just before entering the plane, I stop, unpack it and put it in its cover again, to hand it to staff/hang it myself in the wardrobe at the entrance of the plane? I am happy with this airline doing a better job restricting the number of pieces and over-size items people try to stuff into the overhead bins. But in this case, neither have they accelerated boarding nor have they freed up space in the overhead. So what was it that they wanted to achieve? Or was it, which I presume, an enforcing regardless of the ultimate objective, done mindlessly and with the complete absence of common sense?

Originally Posted by Spanish View Post
I was under the impression that a garment bag counts as a carry-on item. So perhaps place the suit carrier inside the suit, walk on the plane, and then place the suit back in the "cover" (garment bag, according to AA).

Seems like a simple solution to your issues.

I would have understood if we talk like a proper garment bag with pockets, a handle, space to put other things in, etc. Those are proper pieces of luggage that take up more space than one jacket in the wardrobe. But in this case this was literally a cover a few millimeters thick.

In the end, thanks for explanations, now I know that a jacket under cover is considered a piece of luggage. It does not make to me and I don't see how that makes boarding faster or frees up space in the bins or under seats, but I accept it and will plan accordingly.

I still remain puzzled about why in one case I could valet check and in another had to gate check. Seems like random decision of individuals, alongside with implicitly accusing hundreds of her own AA colleages and staff at other airlines to be in breach of FAA rules.
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Old Aug 14, 19, 9:50 am
  #1172  
 
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post


I recognise how putting the jacket on complies with the rule, but now with the spirit of the rule, which is to limit cabin luggage to two pieces for overhead/under seat. Whether I wear that jacket or carry it myself will not take more or less space overhead/under the seat, and take up as much space in the wardrobe. I get it, I'll behave accordingly, but I find it absurd......
In the end, thanks for explanations, now I know that a jacket under cover is considered a piece of luggage. It does not make to me and I don't see how that makes boarding faster or frees up space in the bins or under seats, but I accept it and will plan accordingly......

Seems like random decision of individuals.
When we make rules, we define boundaries.....
I may drive 55 km/hr in a 50 km/hr zone and pass 50 LEOs who will let me drive on. But one may stop and cite me for speeding. My defense cannot be..
"I have driven this road 100 times prior to this at 55 km/hr and no one has stopped me before. Why now?"
And the answer always will be... "Because you are going 5 km/hr over the posted speed limit."

My wife travels with her carry-on, personal item and a small purse. Most times the GAs say nothing when she boards, but occasionally someone will mention 3 items. She then tosses her purse into the personal item and consolidates to 2. She may even be proactive when she sees other people being stopped for the same reason prior to boarding.

Some AA attendants will fuss over the rule and others will not. You may think it is absurd but obviously they do not. You already have described your very satisfactory solution to your problem. I personally would not change what you have been doing in the past, but if someone makes a fuss, wear the jacket and fold the plastic into your briefcase or carry-on.
Problem solved!
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Old Aug 14, 19, 9:55 am
  #1173  
 
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
I still remain puzzled about why in one case I could valet check and in another had to gate check. Seems like random decision of individuals, alongside with implicitly accusing hundreds of her own AA colleages and staff at other airlines to be in breach of FAA rules.
I fear that expecting consistency from AA (or any airline) is expecting too much.

Reportedly, the FAA rule is that an airline must follow its own published procedure, rather than the FAA mandating any particular rule. I've never heard of an FAA enforcement action regarding carry-on, but perhaps someone else has an example.
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Old Aug 14, 19, 10:32 am
  #1174  
 
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AA website:

1 personal item and 1 carry-on

Your personal item like a purse or small handbag must fit under the seat in front of you. Dimensions should not exceed 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 cm).

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.

Soft-sided garment bags up to 51 inches / 130 cm (length + width + height) can also be taken as your carry-on item.
AA CoC:

In general, you're allowed 1 bag and 1 personal item

Diaper bags, child safety seats, strollers and medical or mobility devices don’t count as your bag or personal item
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Old Aug 14, 19, 11:36 am
  #1175  
 
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post

I recognise how putting the jacket on complies with the rule, but now with the spirit of the rule, which is to limit cabin luggage to two pieces for overhead/under seat. Whether I wear that jacket or carry it myself will not take more or less space overhead/under the seat, and take up as much space in the wardrobe. I get it, I'll behave accordingly, but I find it absurd.
The "spirit" of the rule is often the culprit. FAs seem to use a lot of leeway with the spirit of the rule. They need to simply enforce the rules rigorously and strictly, OR ELSE look away and make it a free for all. It's the 50/50 interpretation of rules that often causes trouble.

I'll never forget the time I had to put my rollerboard in a sizer at the gate. It was tight, but I fit it in. GA told me it had to fit in "with room to spare" In other words, because I didn't have a lot of slack, she considered my bag too big. Even though it fit, it was too big. Now that was clearly her interpretation of the rules.

Last edited by cheaptom; Aug 14, 19 at 11:43 am
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Old Aug 14, 19, 12:16 pm
  #1176  
 
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We seem to be veering towards "why couldn't I bring that third item on board" - which is one question, but that was answered, "because as soon as your jacket is covered, it is considered a piece of luggage". I wouldn't mind not taking it on board, if only I could valet check it. And I still don't know why in one case I can valet check it and in another I can't. What difference does it make? I am not supposed to bring items on board, OK, I accept that. If I leave one item at the aircraft door, then I am not bringing it on board. So why insist on gate checking it (especially if it can't be checked to final destination)? What benefit? There are still only two items on board, boarding is not slowed down, etc. So what is the point?

Originally Posted by cheaptom View Post
The "spirit" of the rule is often the culprit. FAs seem to use a lot of leeway with the spirit of the rule. They need to simply enforce the rules rigorously and strictly, OR ELSE look away and make it a free for all. It's the 50/50 interpretation of rules that often causes trouble.

I'll never forget the time I had to put my rollerboard in a sizer at the gate. It was tight, but I fit it in. GA told me it had to fit in "with room to spare" In other words, because I didn't have a lot of slack, she considered my bag too big. Even though it fit, it was too big. Now that was clearly her interpretation of the rules.
I see your point. And rather than saying "spirit" I should have said "the clearly stated objective". In this case: if the clearly stated objective was "every passengers can put only one item in the overhead and one item underneath a seat" then putting my jacket in the wardrobe does not prevent that from happening. If the objective was "only two items on board", then valet checking one item does not prevent that from happening.
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Old Aug 14, 19, 2:02 pm
  #1177  
 
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Originally Posted by radonc1 View Post
My wife travels with her carry-on, personal item and a small purse. Most times the GAs say nothing when she boards, but occasionally someone will mention 3 items. She then tosses her purse into the personal item and consolidates to 2. She may even be proactive when she sees other people being stopped for the same reason prior to boarding.
I do exactly the same thing.
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Old Aug 14, 19, 2:02 pm
  #1178  
 
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
If I leave one item at the aircraft door, then I am not bringing it on board. So why insist on gate checking it (especially if it can't be checked to final destination)?
The policy is to gate check it to the final destination (or next formal stopover) on your ticket, which is what the second agent did. That you had your own off-ticket connection is not of concern to the airline. Sometimes at the check-in counter they might be willing to string together and interline your bags across tickets, but it's time consuming and I definitely wouldn't expect a gate agent to do that while trying to board a flight.

The first agent cut you a break by allowing you to valet check it -- I don't think its prohibited, but it's not standard procedure on mainline aircraft. The standard procedure for excess bags (or bags within policy that don't fit because the plane is full) is to gate check to final destination or next stopover on your ticket.

The question is not "why wouldn't the second agent do this?" but rather "why did the first agent do a non-standard thing?" and that's a pretty clear answers: they were doing you a favor.
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Old Aug 14, 19, 2:08 pm
  #1179  
 
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Does anyone know what the "rules" are regarding carrying on tennis rackets? I've been flying with a tennis bag for 15 years without any problems. But on my recent flight between PHX and LIH the gate agent required me to put it in the sizer. There is no issue with depth and width but even on the diagonal the bag was too long (the bag is 28" long). Even out of the bag - a standard racket is 27-29" long - the rackets wouldn't fit in the sizer. She then made me gate check the bag to LIH. We were just on our way to vacation so I didn't have to worry about my son's rackets being damaged enroute to a tournament. But I'd like to know what the official policy is before I travel for the next tournament. I can't place the rackets in checked bags because there is always some chance that the bags won't make it to the tournament destination. Note that my other carry-on was a small personal item that easily fit under the seat.
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Old Aug 14, 19, 3:15 pm
  #1180  
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There have been incidents where airport security screeners in some parts of the world refuse to allow tennis rackets to be cleared as cabin baggage. So whether or not an airline is fine with a tennis racket as cabin baggage for the overhead bins, there may be an issue in some places with the airport security screeners refusing to allow it. Just something to consider.

I do see people carry on tennis rackets as cabin baggage. I will ask to see what tennis pros do when traveling with their rackets.

ETA:

It seems there is a lot of room in how it goes:

https://www.epiruslondon.com/blogs/t...tennis-rackets

But I was told that it was like I thought and that the pros try to generally fly with their rackets as cabin baggage because they dont want to risk arriving at tournaments without their usual rackets. And that it most commonly is not a problem as long as it fits the combined linear inch limits and seems likely to fit in the overhead bins.

Last edited by GUWonder; Aug 14, 19 at 3:34 pm
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Old Aug 14, 19, 6:58 pm
  #1181  
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
And I had exactly 1 item overhead and 1 item under the seat. And the jacket that they hang in the wardrobe. The fact that it was covered seems to have made the difference then (at least to these two people, not to the hundreds of others). OK, that answers that question.
There is no carry on baggage allowance for items to go in a wardrobe. If you wear a jacket it may get hung up, but you simply had a 3rd carry on piece which is not permitted
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Old Oct 6, 19, 10:50 pm
  #1182  
 
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American Airlines carry on question

Flying with American Airlines from MCO to FCO connecting in CLT next Monday. Will be traveling with a carry on for the over head bin and and smaller bag for under the seat. The bag for the over head bun is 21 x 14 x 8.7 Is it true American Airlines will frequently make you check your bags at the gate?


Ive heard hear and there that AA almost always make passengers check bags at the gate but not sure how true it is. I dont want to check luggage because I would like to avoid possible lost luggage
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Old Oct 6, 19, 11:24 pm
  #1183  
 
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To give you a response that is more specific to you, I might ask for additional information. Do you have status, the AAdvantage card(s), or have you purchased MCE in advance?

In general, it completely depends on the gate agent, aircraft, and local baggage measuring "culture". I've had gate agents measure my bag as a first class passenger (that REALLY ticked me off), and other agents not even bother with ANY passengers...that element is hard to predict. I have traveled with the same sized overhead-compliant carry on for years, and can offer you this advice. If you are boarding in anything later than group 5, you run the risk of having the gate agents require you to gate check the bag, due to space filling up in the overhead bins. Group 6 on a full flight is when they generally get the news from the crew that space has run out.

I have no way to guess whether your carry-on will be sized by the agent...your described dimensions seem compliant. That entirely depends on the mood and need to assert their authority personality of the gate agent. I will say that some flights over others tend to have more passengers attempting to "push" the carry on limitations, but to my experience CLT-FCO is not one of them. Again, it all just depends on the GA that day. As I said above, I think the biggest factor you face is when you intend to board and what boarding group you will be assigned. If you are unsure of that, you might check the thread for AA boarding groups/procedure.

Best of luck!
Leighjohnwi
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Old Oct 7, 19, 12:23 am
  #1184  
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Originally Posted by Srodriguez View Post
Flying with American Airlines from MCO to FCO connecting in CLT next Monday. Will be traveling with a carry on for the over head bin and and smaller bag for under the seat. The bag for the over head bun is 21 x 14 x 8.7 Is it true American Airlines will frequently make you check your bags at the gate?


Ive heard hear and there that AA almost always make passengers check bags at the gate but not sure how true it is. I dont want to check luggage because I would like to avoid possible lost luggage
The size limit is 22 x 14 x 9, so you are compliant with that standard.
However, depending on when you board their might not be enough room for your bag, or the gate agent might think there won't be enough room and will make you gate check it.
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Old Oct 7, 19, 3:27 am
  #1185  
 
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If it’s a full flight and you are boarding after zone 5 you may have an issue.
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