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The Ultimate Guide To Flying American Airlines With Kids [2024]

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Ashley Onadele
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Ashley Onadele

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Ashley discovered a love for travel in college that’s continued as her family has grown. She loves showing parents how they can take their families on trips using points and has contributed to numerou...
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Flying with kids of any age doesn’t have to be a hassle, especially when you know what to expect from your airline. With more than 11,000 daily flights, American Airlines and the Oneworld Alliance may offer the most convenient flight for your family. If that’s the case, you’ve come to the right place.

Here’s everything you need to know about flying on American Airlines with kids.

Where American Airlines Flies

American Airlines has 8 airport hubs throughout the U.S., including Charlotte (CLT), Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), New York (JFK and LGA), Philadelphia (PHL), Phoenix (PHX), and Washington, D.C. (DCA).

American’s hub airports are ideally positioned for international and domestic flights. The airline takes the lead as a legacy carrier with flights to the Caribbean from its hubs in Miami and Charlotte.

As a member of the Oneworld airline alliance, American’s partners include popular airlines such as Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, and more. This means that even if American Airlines doesn’t fly to a particular destination, there’s a chance that it has a codeshare agreement with an airline within its alliance. By flying on a codeshare, you can still earn Loyalty Points toward status.

Some, not all, partner airlines are also redeemable with American Airlines AAdvantage miles, the airline’s loyalty program.

American AAdvantage Loyalty Program

Elite Status

American Airlines’s loyalty program is called AAdvantage and has 4 elite status levels.

To earn elite status on American, you must earn enough Loyalty Points required for each tier. You can earn Loyalty Points in several ways, including by flying. The easiest way to earn them is by spending on an American Airlines co-branded credit card.

You need the following amounts of Loyalty Points to earn status on American Airlines and Oneworld:

The benefits of AAdvantage elite status vary widely from 1 free checked bag to a 100-hour upgrade window (with first dibs on automatic upgrades before check-in). Elite status holders in the 3 highest tiers also receive complimentary Admirals Club lounge access along with 1 guest.

In addition to earning Loyalty Points by flying or spending on an American Airlines co-branded credit card, you can also earn points towards status in other ways. AAdvantage Dining rewards you for restaurant purchases, while SimplyMiles and AAdvantage eShopping offer bonus miles when shopping online.

American Airlines Lounges

Admirals Club Kids Club in Rio
Admirals Club Kids’ Club in Rio de Janeiro (GIG). Image Credit: Chris Hassan

American Airlines has 2 lounge options: Flagship Lounges and Admirals Club lounges.

The Flagship Lounge is only for Flagship First and Flagship Business class travelers and features amenities such as shower suites. These lounges can be found in American Airlines hub cities of Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Los Angeles (LAX), and Miami (MIA).

Admirals Club Lounges are accessible with an annual membership, day pass, or Citi®/AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®, which comes with a complimentary Admirals Club membership.

An Admirals Club annual membership is $850 or 85,000 AAdvantage miles a year. It includes the membership holder and immediate family members (spouse or domestic partner and children under 18 years of age) or up to 2 guests. This rate is for AAdvantage members without status, and the price goes down with higher status or if you’re renewing your membership. Membership also includes access to select partner lounges. Day passes are $79 or 7,900 AAdvantage miles, and access is dependent on lounge capacity at any given time.

There are a lot more Admirals Clubs than there are Flagship Lounges to choose from. Many Admirals Clubs also have a family room with kid-sized furniture and kid-friendly entertainment. Partner lounges you can access with an Admirals Club membership include locations around the world. If you plan to travel on American Airlines frequently, especially with your family, an investment in Admirals Club membership might be worth considering.

Bottom Line:

American Airlines’ 2 lounge types either require you to fly Flagship First or Flagship Business to access a Flagship Lounge or have an annual membership or day pass to enter an Admirals Club.

How To Book American Flights

You can book American Airlines flights most easily through its website — aa.com. You can also book through the American Airlines app.

To book a ticket with a partner airline’s miles, like British Airways Avios, you’ll go to BA’s website, sign in to your Avios account, and search with Avios. If American Airlines flights are available to book, they can be found on the results page.

Flying With Kids on American Airlines

American Airlines 777 Business Class Lap Child
Lap child in American Airlines Flagship Business. Image Credit: Chris Hassan

Flying With a Lap Child

There are 3 ways to add a lap infant to an American Airlines reservation:

  1. You can easily book with a lap infant online by adding an “infant in lap” on the Passenger Details page before paying.
  2. Alternatively, if you’ve already made your reservation but would like to add a lap infant after the fact, you can update an existing reservation. You’ll do this by looking up your trip on aa.com, going to the Passengers section, and selecting “add a lap infant.”
  3. And finally, you can always call AA Reservations at 800-433-7300 to add your infant to your reservation.

Infants younger than 7 days old are not allowed to fly on American Airlines.

Priority Boarding for Families

American Airlines isn’t very generous regarding priority or early boarding when traveling with children. The airline only allows families with children younger than 2 years old (a lap infant) to board early, and its website dictates that you have to ask for this privilege.

The airline allows 1 diaper bag per child, even if that child has no seat.

Unaccompanied Minors

Travelers between the ages of 5 and 14 years old who are traveling without an adult are required to use Amerian Airlines’s unaccompanied minor service. This service is optional for kids 15 to 17 years old.

The fee for this service is $150 each way, not including taxes, and covers siblings on the same flight.

As an unaccompanied minor, your child would get to board early and get settled in by the flight attendants. There’s even a kids-only lounge at American’s hub cities during flight connections. An amenity kit from Quaker includes snacks and activities for kids 5 to 10 years old departing from hub cities.

Unaccompanied minors must be booked by phone, and the adult dropping off at the airport must provide identification for both the child and themselves. When dropping off at the airport, they’ll need to check in at the counter, not the kiosk or online, before being given a security pass to take the child to the gate.

Seating

It’s always a good idea to choose your seats when booking, especially when traveling with under-age kids you want to be seated with. Even if you don’t choose your seats when you book, American’s family seating policy indicates that the airline will try to seat children under 15 years old next to at least 1 adult traveling in the same party.

For babies, you might want to consider a bassinet. American has outfitted select planes — 777-200, 777-300, and 787 aircraft — with bassinets. They are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are not available in first or business class.

Snacks and Beverage Service

American Airlines serves free Biscoff cookies and pretzels to all cabin classes. On flights over 1,300 miles, or about 3 hours, you may be able to purchase snacks like Pringles or a cheese tray, depending on availability.

Complimentary drinks include sodas, coffee, tea, water, and select juices. You can also purchase alcoholic beverages in all cabin classes, while first and business-class travelers receive complimentary service of all beverage types.

Baby and kid meals are considered special meals. These are complimentary and available to those flying domestically in first and business class and in all classes on most international flights. You can select a special meal between 30 days and 24 hours before departure.

Onboard Amenities

Unfortunately, American Airlines doesn’t widely offer kid-specific amenities onboard, such as kids’ meals in domestic main cabins or kids’ amenity kits.

Inflight Entertainment

There are kid-friendly shows and games available on American’s inflight entertainment.

American Airlines First Flagship Business Class Miami to Boston girl watching a movie
Kids can enjoy kid-friendly shows and games on American’s inflight entertainment. Image Credit: Chris Hassan

You can connect to free entertainment on American’s free inflight Wi-Fi. You can connect on your own devices (phone, tablet, or laptop) and purchase upgraded Wi-Fi for browsing the internet, emails, or streaming from platforms such as Netflix.

For frequent flyers, you may want to consider a monthly or annual Wi-Fi subscription starting at $49.95 and $599, respectively.

American Airlines Credit Cards

American Airlines has several co-branded personal and business credit cards from Citi and Barclays.

The number of miles you can earn from a welcome bonus offer depends on which card you have but can range between 15,000 and 85,000 miles at any given time. The annual fee on each card varies as well.

Some American Airlines co-branded credit cards to consider include the following cards from both banks:

Common perks to holding an American Airlines credit card, in addition to the great welcome bonus offers and ridiculous amounts of cards to earn miles from, include complimentary checked bags and priority boarding. You’ll also earn between 2 and 4 miles per dollar spent on American Airlines purchases.

Hot Tip:

Even if you don’t fly American Airlines often, having a stash of AAdvantage miles will allow you to redeem miles with partner airlines like Qatar Airways and Iberia.

Final Thoughts

American Airlines isn’t a leading airline for family travelers, so don’t expect to be wowed. Unlike other legacy carriers, the airline doesn’t do anything special for families by way of children’s meals or amenity kits, and it doesn’t even really have family boarding when traveling with a child older than 2 years old. However, if you can make its flight schedules work for you (or those of its partners) and you can see the value in its loyalty program, American Airlines is still worth considering for your family’s travel.

The information regarding the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer. 
The information regarding the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of ID does a child need to fly American Airlines?

You may be required to show ID such as a passport or birth certificate to prove your child’s age when flying with American Airlines. If your child is flying as an unaccompanied minor, you will need to present proof of ID for the child as well as the adult dropping off and picking up your child from the airport.

Does American Airlines seat families together?

Yes. American Airlines advises that you choose your seats at the time you book your flight, but if you choose not to, the airline will automatically choose seats for your family together before the day of departure. At the very least, children under 15 years old should be seated with at least 1 adult in the traveling party.

Do you have to pay to check a car seat on American Airlines?

No. You are allowed to check 1 car seat and 1 stroller for no additional fee when flying on American Airlines.

Is a diaper bag considered a carry-on on American Airlines?

No, a diaper bag is not considered a carry-on on American Airlines. A child under 2 years old is allowed 1 free diaper bag.

Does American Airlines allow families to board first?

While American Airlines does not have a designated group or time during boarding for families with children, the airline allows you to request early boarding at the gate.

Ashley Onadele's image

About Ashley Onadele

Ashley discovered a love for travel in college that’s continued as her family has grown. She loves showing parents how they can take their families on trips using points and has contributed to numerous publications and podcasts.

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