American Airlines Review – Seats, Amenities, Customer Service, Baggage Fees, & More

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We’re sure you’re more than familiar with American Airlines, considering it’s the world’s largest airline — but this handy review brings together all the information you might need when considering flying with them.

Maybe you need to know about the airline’s fare structure, which changed not too long ago to incorporate their basic economy fare level. Or you might be interested to know how far a premium economy seat would recline if you were to upgrade.

We’ve outlined all of the info you need below, including those pesky extra fees (like baggage fees), inflight amenities, customer satisfaction rankings, and more.

Basic Info

Airline: American Airlines

Alliance: Oneworld

Category: Legacy domestic and international airline

Frequent Flyer Program: AAdvantage

Tagline: “The World’s Greatest Flyers Fly American” and “Going for Great”

About/Mission Statement: “American Airlines and American Eagle are in business to provide safe, dependable and friendly air transportation to our customers, along with numerous related services. We are dedicated to making every flight you take with us something special.” (source)

Daily Flights: Nearly 6,700 (Including codeshare partners)

Fleet: 952

Main Hub: Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW)

Destinations: Nearly 350 destinations worldwide (Including codeshare partners)

American Airlines Destination Map
American Airlines destination map. Image courtesy of aa.fltmaps.com.

Frequent Flyer Program

AAdvantage is the loyalty program for American Airlines where you can earn miles through flying, shopping, eating out, or spending on certain credit cards.

American Airlines is a part of the Oneworld alliance, which means you can earn AAdvantage miles by flying with any of their Oneworld partners in addition to several other airline partners (including American Eagle regional flights).

If you travel regularly with American, then it’s definitely worth signing up — you can also work your way up their elite membership statuses to gain benefits such as additional checked baggage, priority check-in, and no fee changes.

Hot Tip: Check out our post on the best ways to earn lots of American Airlines AAdvantage Miles and you’ll be redeeming your award flights in no time!

Ticketing Options

American offers a range of fare options that offer flexibility when flying their domestic and international routes.

Economy Basic

This starts from their entry-level basic economy, fare which used to be just a seat and a small personal item to carry-on. However, as part of their recent baggage changes, you are now permitted to bring 1 piece of standard carry-on luggage.

As you can see from the table, there is no option to change or cancel the ticket when flying domestically or to other short-haul destinations.

So the prices may look attractive, but it may be worth checking out American’s Flexible fare category if your journey plans aren’t 100% and are likely to change.

Route typeBagsChoose seat (fee)Eligible for upgradesMake changes (fee)Boarding group
Domestic U.S. routes, Canada, Central America, Mexico and Caribbean*Checked: No free bags
Carry-on: 1 personal item and 1 carry-on
48 hours before departureNoNot permittedGroup 9**
EuropeChecked: No free bags
Carry-on: 1 personal item and 1 carry-on
When point of bookingNoYesGroup 8**

*Excluding the following destinations: Alaska, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Cuba, Panama and El Salvador
**Not applicable to AAdvantage elite status members or eligible AAdvantage credit cardmembers
Not applicable to AAdvantage elite status members. Eligible AAdvantage credit cardmembers are exempt only when flying within the U.S. and Canada
Not applicable to AAdvantage elite status members

Lowest Fare

For all destinations that American offers, you will have the option to select the Lowest Fare. This will give you the standard prices for economy (which they refer to as “Main Cabin”), premium economy, business and first class (if available on the flight).

Hot Tip: If you’re torn between economy fare options, check these in-depth articles on the difference between AA Economy and AA Basic Economy and the difference between AA Main Cabin Extra and Preferred.

On domestic, Canada, and Mexico flights (plus some medium-haul international flights), the fares you will be quoted won’t include any checked baggage — this will have to be added on separately.

The cabin class standard fares have different allocations for baggage allowance, eligibility for upgrades, priority boarding, and change fees.

Here is a top-level view of the different cabin classes — check out our “Inflight Amenities and Seat Specs” section below for more detailed information on amenities and entertainment:

Main cabin (Economy)Premium EconomyBusinessFirst
Checked baggage allowance1 piece*2 pieces**2 pieces***2 pieces****
1 piece of carry-on + personal itemYesYesYesYes
Choose seatsNo chargeNo chargeNo chargeNo charge
Eligible for upgradesYesn/an/an/a
Priority check-in, security, and boardingNoPriorityPriorityPriority
Five Star Service available to add to your booking, including meet and greet services.NoNoYesYes
Access to airport lounge for qualifying flightsNoNoYesYes

First class passengers also benefit from same-day flight changes and standby if applicable on an American Airlines flights.

*Applies to transatlantic and transpacific flights. Select cities in Asia and South America get 1 extra checked bag.
**Only 1 free checked bag on flights to/from Hawaii.
***AAdvantage Executive Platinum members get 1 extra checked bag.
****On planes with both business and first class, you get 1 extra checked bag (or 2 if you’re AAdvantage Executive Platinum).

Flexible Fare

This fare type is available for Main Cabin and premium economy, business, and first class.

If you think you might need to change your flight for any reason then it may be worth considering this Flexible fare, which allows you to change your flight without incurring a service fee (although the difference in fare would still apply).

Fully Flexible Fare

This fare type is available for the Main Cabin only (and the benefits are included as standard for business and first class fares).

Passengers are permitted to change their flight up until the same day of travel without incurring a service fee, though any fare difference will still apply. You will also be eligible for standby if available on an American Airlines flight.

American Airlines Baggage & Other Fees/Add-Ons

American Airlines Baggage
Image courtesy of aa.com.

American’s baggage allowance is dependent on your destination. If you’re taking a domestic flight within the U.S., then you will need to add on baggage if choosing to fly Main Cabin (regular economy).

This is also applicable on some medium-haul international flights to places such as the Caribbean or Central America. Be sure to check the inclusions when searching for a flight or booking through their call center.

Baggage Fees

American Airlines Carry-On Allowance

These are applicable for all fare types and cabin classes

1 personal item: FREE
1 standard carry-on: FREE

Size Restrictions

  • Personal: 18″ x 14″ x 8″
  • Standard: 22″ x 14″ x 9″

American places seasonal restrictions on checked luggage during their busy period.

Hot Tip: For more information, check out our detailed article for American Airlines Baggage Fees & Tips to Cover the Expenses.

Checked baggage must not exceed 23kg for economy and premium economy; 32kg for business and first class fares; and must not exceed max linear dimensions of 62” (158cm).

Main Cabin:

  • 1st bag available for purchase from $30 – $60 (free on certain flights)
  • 2nd bag available to purchase from $40 – $100
  • 3rd bag available to purchase from $150 – $200
  • 4+ bags available to purchase from $150 – $200

^^This $60 charge applies for the 1st bag in transatlantic basic economy.

Free Checked Baggage Allowance for Premium Classes

  • Premium Economy: 2 bags included; 3+ for purchase as per table above
  • Business: 2 bags included; 3+ for purchase as per table above
  • First: 2-3 bags included**; 3+ for purchase as per table above

**The fee for a 3rd bag is charged on a 2-cabin aircraft; there is no charge for a 3rd bag on a 3-cabin aircraft

Complimentary Checked Luggage

In addition to passengers flying in premium classes, those with elite status are eligible for complimentary checked luggage.

Other Fees & Add-Ons

Change/Cancellation Fees (Cash Tickets)

Same-day change:

  • Main Cabin: $75 – $150
  • Premium Economy: n/a
  • Business: $0
  • First: $0

$75 for domestic, Canada and Caribbean; $150 for transatlantic travel between JFK-LHR

Customers requiring extra space onboard: (All cabin classes) 2nd ticket at the same rate if arranged at the same time as buying the 1st ticket

Tickets issued by Reservations Department: $25 (domestic), $35 (international)

Award tickets issued by Reservations department: $30 (domestic), $40 (international; fees vary by country)

Assistance by Reservations Department: $50 (Applies to voluntary trip changes by customer, not a booking initially created by American Airlines Reservations or on aa.com)

Tickets issued by American Airlines travel centers: $35 (A higher charge may apply in Colombia and Chile due to government requirements)

Voluntary change to ticket before travel date: $200 (domestic), up to $750 (international; charge varies depending on type of ticket purchased)

Same day standby is complimentary for Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Executive Platinum Members

Cancellation: If you cancel a nonrefundable ticket, you can apply the unused value of the ticket toward a future trip (no later than 1 year from the date your original ticket was issued). Change fees may apply.

Seat selection: There isn’t a straightforward pricing structure for American’s seat selection; it depends on your fare type and route. Some flights don’t appear to give you the option to select a seat at all, and Economy Basic doesn’t allow it either.

We ran a search for a flight from Dallas to London in their Main Cabin, and seat selection ranged from $91-$128 per one-way flight.

Unaccompanied minor: $150 + tax (per one-way route)

Transporting a pet as carry-on: $125 per kennel (to/from the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central America, Colombia, and the Caribbean)

Transporting a pet as checked: $200 per kennel (to/from the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean); $150 to/from Brazil

Hot Tip: We’ve also gone into detail on American Airlines’ award flight change & cancellation fees.

Refreshments Onboard

American Airlines Cabin Food
Onboard menu created by Zoës Kitchen. Image courtesy of aa.com.

For domestic journeys to Central America, Canada, or the Caribbean, AA provides snacks plus non-alcoholic drinks for journeys over 250 miles.

If you’re traveling to Hawaii, then a meal plus beer or wine is included; a meal is also included if traveling between New York and Los Angeles or New York and San Francisco.

For flights over 700 miles, meals and refreshments are available to purchase with the menu created by Zoës Kitchen. The type of food is dependent on what time you fly, but it ranges from a breakfast sandwich on a waffle brioche bun to a hummus duo with olives and pita bread, and costs around $10 when pre-booked online.

On long-distance international flights, a meal plus beer or wine is served, with spirits available on flights to Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand.

For flights not eligible for complimentary food beverages, these can be purchased for:

  • Beer: $8
  • Wine: $9
  • Spirits: $9
  • Fresh food: $9.99

How to Avoid Paying Excess Fees & Travel Expenses

There are several cards that will reimburse you for excess fees and general travel expenses.

This is achieved by either using your points to erase your travel expenses at the time of paying off your statement, or by using the annual “travel/airline” credit that comes with the card.

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card - This no annual fee card comes with a 20,000 mile welcome bonus (worth $200) once you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months. When you use your card for travel purchases (e.g. baggage fees), use your miles to pay off all, or part of, your statement! This is why we like this card.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card - The "big brother" card to the VentureOne® with a larger 50,000 welcome bonus (worth $500), when you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months, and you'll earn 10X miles per $1 spent across thousands of hotels.

Inflight Inclusions, Amenities, & Seat Specs

Main Cabin (Economy)

American Airlines Main Cabin
Main Cabin (economy). Image courtesy of aa.com.

American describes this cabin as having “All the essentials” for an enjoyable flight.

Amenities include:

  • Seat selection (subject to a fee, see above)
  • Free snacks and soft drinks on all routes (check the refreshments section above)
  • Entertainment on screen or on your personal device using the American Airlines app (see Seat Specs section for entertainment on different plane types)
  • Wi-Fi available to purchase

Main Cabin Extra

Upgrade to Main Cabin Extra and you’ll enjoy more space with extra legroom and early boarding (after elite members), with preferred group 5 boarding.

Hot Tip: Read more about AA’s boarding process here so you’ll be prepared for your flight!

Premium Economy

American Express Premium Economy
Check out these Premium Economy seats. Image courtesy of aa.com.

Enjoy an “Elevated travel experience” with privileges at the airport and in the air.

Amenities include:

  • Wider seats
  • Premium dining
  • On-demand entertainment with larger screen and noise-reduction headphones
  • Amenity kit
  • Pillow and blanket created exclusively by Casper
  • Wi-Fi available to purchase

Business Class

American Express Business
Business class. Image courtesy of aa.com.

Business is the highest class and level of service available on American’s shorter international flights to the Caribbean, Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico, and certain destinations in South America.

Amenities include:

  • Wider seats and more legroom
  • Premium dining
  • On-demand entertainment with larger screen, noise-reduction headphones, and streaming available
  • Pillow and blanket created exclusively by Casper
  • Wi-Fi available to purchase

First Class

American Express First
First class. Image courtesy of aa.com.

First class is available on domestic flights within the U.S., and it gets you American’s “highest level of service.”

Amenities include:

  • Wider seats and more legroom
  • Premium dining
  • On-demand entertainment with larger screens or personal device, noise-reduction headphones, and streaming available
  • Pillow and blanket created exclusively by Casper
  • Wi-Fi available to purchase

Flagship Business — International

American Airlines Flagship Business
Flagship business. Image courtesy of aa.com.

“A premier experience for the long haul,” Flagship Business is available on international flights to Asia, Australia, Europe, New Zealand, and South America. Here’s what it includes:

  • Access to American Airlines’ Flagship Lounges (at select airports)
  • Lie-flat seats*
  • Premium dining
  • On-demand entertainment with Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones, and live TV on some aircraft
  • Cole Haan amenity kit
  • Pillow and blanket created exclusively by Casper
  • Wi-Fi available to purchase

*Flagship Business is only available on aircraft with lie-flat seats: B757, B772, B773, B788, B789, A321T, A332, A333

Flagship Business — Transcontinental

American Airlines Flagship Business - Transcontinental
Flagship Business — Transcontinental. Image courtesy of aa.com.

Available on flights from Los Angeles to New York, San Francisco to New York, and Los Angeles to Boston, you can “Travel coast-to-coast in luxury.”

  • Access to American Airlines’ Flagship Lounges (at select airports)
  • Lie-flat seats
  • Premium dining
  • On-demand entertainment with Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones
  • Cole Haan amenity kit
  • Pillow and blanket created exclusively by Casper
  • Wi-Fi available to purchase

Flagship First — International

American Airlines Flasgship First - International
Flagship First international. Image courtesy of aa.com.

Available on flights to Asia, Australia, Europe, and South America when traveling on a B773 aircraft.

  • Access to American Airlines’ Flagship Lounges (at select airports)
  • Lie-flat seats
  • Premium dining
  • On-demand entertainment with Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones
  • Cole Haan amenity kit
  • Pillow and blanket created exclusively by Casper
  • Wi-Fi available to purchase

Flagship First — Transcontinental

American Airlines Flagship First - Transcontinental
Flagship First transcontinental. Image courtesy of aa.com.

Available on flights from Los Angeles to New York, San Francisco to New York, and Los Angeles to Boston, you can travel “Coast-to-coast in comfort.”

  • Access to American Airlines’ Flagship Lounges (at select airports)
  • Lie-flat seats
  • Premium dining
  • On-demand entertainment with Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones
  • Cole Haan amenity kit
  • Pillow and blanket created exclusively by Casper
  • Wi-Fi available to purchase

Seat Specs

American Airlines has a large fleet of aircraft with varying cabin configurations. We’ve included details of a few of their planes below, and you can see a full list of all 32 plane variations here.

Airbus A319 – Version 1  – 128 seats each
ClassSeat CountSeat pitchSeat widthWi-Fi (fee)EntertainmentPower
First838″21″YPersonal deviceY
Main Cabin Extra2434″, bulkhead, exit row17.7″YPersonal deviceY
Main Cabin9630″17.3″-18″YPersonal deviceY
Airbus A321 – Version 1  – 181 seats
ClassSeat CountSeat pitchSeat widthWi-Fi (fee)EntertainmentPower
First1639″21″YSeatback screenY
Main Cabin Extra3634-35″, bulkhead, exit row17.7″YSeatback screenY
Main Cabin12931″16.3″-17.7″YSeatback screenY
Airbus A321 – Version 2  – 187 seats
First1636″21″YPersonal deviceN
Main Cabin Extra15bulkhead, exit row17″-18.1″YPersonal deviceN
Main Cabin15631″-32″17″-18.1″YPersonal deviceN

 

Boeing 737 MAX
ClassSeat CountSeat pitchSeat widthWi-Fi (fee)EntertainmentPower
First1637″21″YPersonal deviceY
Main Cabin Extra3033″, bulkhead, exit row16.6″-17.8″YPersonal deviceY
Main Cabin12630″16.6″-17.8″YPersonal deviceY

 

Boeing 777-200 – 273 seats
ClassSeat CountSeat pitchSeat widthWi-Fi (fee)EntertainmentPower
Business37Lie-flat21.9″YSeatback screen, live TVY
Premium Economy2438″18.5″YSeatback screen, live TVY
Main Cabin Extra6635″-36″17.1″-18.1″YSeatback screen, live TVY
Main Cabin14631″-32″17.1″-18.1″YSeatback screen, live TVY
Erin Miller

About Erin Miller

Erin currently maintains her status as Alex's adventure-seeking partner-in-crime and contributes to Upgraded Points through content creation & relationship management.
She caught the travel bug just after high school when her grandmother took her on a two-week, whirlwind trip around Europe. That was that - she's been gallivanting around the globe ever since (22 countries & counting)!

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2 comments

  1. diane appleton · August 16, 2019 · Reply

    Hi, we will be traveling on American Air in a couple of weeks to Ireland. One of our group has diabetes and was asking about bringing packaged foods on board ie: cheese crackers. He needs this as a snack. Is this allowed going into another country? Thank you.

    • Hi Diane,

      Yes, you can bring those items on the plane with you. But keep in mind that you will not be able to have any open food containers on you when you go through customs in Ireland, so at that point, you will need to throw them away.

      Thanks for reading!

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