American Airlines Carry-on Bag Size Limits & Rules

American Airline airplane

American Airlines has specific requirements for carry-on luggage and what you can bring onto their aircraft. While most restrictions are common sense, some aspects of American Airlines’ carry-on policy are not well-known, and can result in you having to check your carry-on at the departure gate. Here we’ll discuss the intricacies of American Airlines’ carry-on dimensions and weight, as well as what you can and cannot bring on one of the airline’s flights.

American Airlines’ Carry-On Policy

American Airlines carry-on size limitations depend on the type of carry-on bag you bring on board. All passengers are allowed either one carry-on bag or a carry-on soft-sided garment bag. In addition, each passenger may board with a personal item.

American Airlines Carry-on Bag Size

American Airlines carry-on dimensions should be no more than 22 inches X 14 inches X 9 inches (56 cm X 36 cm X 23 cm), including handles and wheels. All carry-on must fit the sizer at the departure gate. If the bag does not fit in the sizer, it will need to be checked. American Airlines will charge a checked bag fee for oversized carry-on, which costs between $30 to $200 depending on your destination and how many bags you have already checked.

carry on size restrictions

You can substitute a soft-sided garment bag for a standard carry-on bag if you prefer. Garment bags of up to 51 inches (130 cm) can be taken on board. Musical instruments which can fit under the seat or in an overhead compartment are counted as carry-on bags. You can also substitute a pet carrier for a dog or cat as your carry-on allowance. An additional fee of $125.00 applies when traveling with pets as carry-on.

We recommend labeling all carry-on bags as if they were checked bags in case they fail to meet American Airlines carry-on bag size restrictions. Should space be limited in overhead compartments, American Airlines may ask for volunteers to check carry-on bags for free.

American Airlines Carry-On Weight Limit

Unlike some airlines, American Airlines monitors carry-on weight as well as size. The American Airlines carry-on weight limit is forty pounds (18 Kg).

Personal items and American Airlines

In addition to a carry-on bag, American Airlines allows passengers to carry one personal item, such as a small backpack, laptop bag, camera bag, briefcase, or purse. No matter what kind of personal item you choose, it must be able to fit securely underneath the seat in front of you. To ensure your personal item fits, it should not be larger than 18 inches X 14 inches X 8 inches (45 cm X 35 cm X 20 cm).

personal size requirements

Infants and American Airlines’ Carry-On Policy

Adults traveling with infants may board American Airlines flights with the following items in addition to their carry-on bag and personal item:

  • Diaper bags
  • Soft-sided cooler bags and breast milk
  • Child safety seats
  • Strollers

Medical Assistive Devices and Service Animals

Wheelchairs and assistive devices such as walkers and walking canes can be brought onto American Airlines flights at no charge and in addition to carry-on allowances. Service animals such as guide dogs fly in the cabin for free, as long as the dog travels with its owner and the owner is fully dependent on the dog.

What Does American Airlines Allow in Carry-On?

American Airlines abides by the TSA’s restrictions on the amount of liquids, gels, creams, pastes, and aerosols you can pack in carry-on. These substances must be in travel-sized containers of 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less, and all containers must fit in a sealable, clear, one-quart plastic bag.

In addition to your carry-on allowance, American Airlines allows you to board with any of the following:

  • A coat, jacket, or other outerwear
  • A diaper bag for a lap or ticketed child
  • A pillow or blanket
  • Books or newspapers
  • Drinks purchased after passing through security
  • Lithium batteries for laptops, phones, or cameras with terminals covered or insulated
  • Duty-free purchases
  • Medically necessary devices
  • Safety seats for a lap or ticketed children
  • Small bags of food for consumption during flights

Carry-On Prohibited by American Airlines

Any item prohibited on the TSA website will not be allowed in American Airlines carry-on. Examples of prohibited items include but are not limited to the following:

  • Alcohol in excess of 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters)
  • Camping equipment that uses flammable fuel
  • Caustic or corrosive items such as drain cleaner and solvents
  • Firearms and ammunition
  • Fireworks, sparklers, gunpowder and explosives
  • Insect sprays
  • Internal combustion engines
  • Lighter refills
  • Liquids, gels, and aerosols in larger amounts that 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters)
  • Paints and thinners
  • Personal air purifiers
  • Poisons
  • Pool chemicals
  • Printer and toner cartridges
  • Propane heaters
  • Radioactive or infectious materials
  • Self-defense sprays, including pepper spray, mace, and bear deterrent
  • Self-heating meals (MREs)
  • Sharp objects, including box cutters, and carpet knives
  • Signal flares
  • Sterno
  • Strike-anywhere matches
  • Styrofoam containers
  • Wet-cell batteries

Choosing a Carry-On Bag for American Airlines

The carry-on bag you choose depends on more than American Airlines’ carry-on size policy. Your destination and travel time also need to be considered. A small backpack might be all you need for a spontaneous weekend getaway, while longer trips or business travel might call for a full-sized piece of carry-on luggage. Whatever your choice, pay attention to American Airlines carry-on bag size limitations to avoid having to check your carry-on at the departure gate.

women overlooking  pool on vacation with weekender bag

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