American Airlines Will Start Aggressively Auditing Carry On Bags November 1st

American told customer service managers this week by memo that “[t]he FAA issued a notification to American Airlines indicating [they] are failing to comply with [their] carry-on baggage program parameters.”

In response the airline “committed to increase the number of self-audits at each mainline station” starting November 1.

  • Hubs/Gateways – 90 self-audits per quarter or 30 per month
  • Spoke Cities – 12 self-audits per quarter or 4 per month

American Airlines Gate in Phoenix

The airline is instructing each airport served by the mainline carrier to “become more directly involved in ensuring compliance with the COB program.”

The GM or station leadership will involve CSMs and/or managers to supplement Compliance Coordinators, where applicable, to support the additional workload.

While this ultimately comes from the FAA, this isn’t going to mean happier customers.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. What part of the policy is being audited? I assume the FAA doesn’t care much about the size of the bags. So maybe lithium ion batteries?

    There’s a stunning lacking detail here.

  2. Yeah–what part of the carry-on procedure is the FAA concerned about? Certainly can’t be whether the bags are going in sideways or wheels first. More details, please.

  3. Can we get the FAA to audit when AA says there is no more room for overhead bin bags and all rollaboards must be checked?

  4. On any given air carrier, the FAA rules are:

    1. FAA’s own basic rules, plus
    2. The airline’s own policies, including re: size of carry-on bags

    Both can be enforced as FAA regulations even though the FAA may not have invented the rule.

  5. I’ve got to jump on the bandwagon here. The lack of detail in this post is painful. What’s the point in notifying people about something that nobody understands what it is?

  6. AA has alot more things to worry about than carry on bags. How about decreasing the number of seats, quit packing us in like sardines.

    Carry on, what a joke.

  7. Does not sound good. I am sure both AA and the FAA are trying to make people’s lives worse while flying.

    I remember being told by a gate agent in DFW that managers will review videotape of boardings and punish the gate agents who allow people on the plane with more than one carry-ons. So do not blame the gate agents.

    That was the day, they made me gate check my carry-on and it did not arrive. Since I was leaving the next morning for another trip, the gate checked bag caught up with me in Tokyo a day later.

  8. Already started last Thursday at DFW. An employee was watching people board. She told me she was looking for pax with an extra bag

  9. Size of bags is very much FAA regulated – even if it the carrier that set the size in the first place.

    If this results in less people carrying on giant over-sized rollaboards and more than two bags it will indeed make this AA customer happier.

  10. I am flying out of Charlotte NC on Sunday .
    I worry about my carry-on bags all the time .
    Then I look around and see other people with bags that would clearly never fit in the “parameters ” that we were all supposed to be following a long time ago .
    Even saw an off duty flight attendant who tried to board with what she KNEW was not acceptable.
    Perhaps it is time for people to follow the rules for a change .

  11. I am flying out of Charlotte NC on Sunday .
    I worry about my carry-on bags all the time and then I see people who are dragging things that clearly don’t meet the requirements for the size of the carry-on bags and furiously stuffing them into the already limited overhead bins.
    Even saw an off duty flight attendant who tried to board the plane with items she KNEW that she was not supposed to have .
    Perhaps we should start following the rules that have been in place for a long time . They were not meant to be just suggestions.

  12. About time. Flew SJC – MIA last week and at least 20% of the Main Cabin Minus passengers were WAY overloaded on both legs. Two bulging bags and shopping bags, wrapped presents, stuffed animals…

    Both flights were 100% booked and free gate check was offered but few takers. Just trying to stuff all that crap away took us past push back. Then you have the joy of waiting forever to deplane because there are passengers with stuff stashed up and down the aisle.

  13. This sounds like an excuse to continue the customer-unfriendly aggressive bag checking at the gate by AA. Having my (small) bag force checked several times by gate agents who hated the airline and its customers when boarding relatively early on was the last straw for me and AA.

  14. So the FAA cares about luggage parameters but went ahead and let Boeing self certify basically the entire 737-MAX program. You can’t make this stuff up.

  15. Hopefully this is in regards to the number of carry-on people are bringing onto planes these days. I’ve seen people trying to lug a roller bag, a backpack, a giant purse, and a small handbag onto the plane so they can avoid checked bag fees. They end up taking up almost the entire overhead compartment because they conveniently don’t want any of that stuff under the seat in front of them or on their laps. If they actually crack down on this I’ll be quite content.

  16. Probably American employees are selectively enforcing their baggage policy and they’re getting complaints. So tired of dealing with a company that is obsessive about charging fees but then can’t be bothered to care about other details. I won’t to be subsidizing their employees’ flying privileges with my business anymore .

  17. Kind of a bizarre post that makes no sense because nobody knows what a self audit is much less what they are auditing. Hopefully Gary will edit this post to explain what he means.
    All I know is that if I am flying paid F I expect I won’t be hassled about my 21″ rollaboard and Swiss backpack. If not then I will be choosing another airline.

  18. About time. All those heavy bags on top of people’s heads are a danger to people in an accident.

    Wonder why it took the FAA so long to intervene. Oh, wait, they’re the same agency that approved the 737-MAX! 🙂

  19. After American Airlines boards the first passenger, I expect to hear an announcement that all the remaining overhead bins are full. Passengers must now gate check all hand carried baggage. By requiring mandatory gate checks of all passenger carry-on luggage, this new procedure will help AA be in compliance with the FAA carry-on baggage program parameters. This is just one more program that help prove American Airlines is going for great.

  20. I have boarded a packed Full flight from Tokyo to Bangkok and Back on a double decker A380.
    I didn’t see any oversized and overpacked Carryon at all. No one tried to sneak in a mini suitcase, a backpack and a small duffel on the plane. ZERO, Nada Gate Cked bags. Nothing. Maybe this is an american, carribean, latin american thing since I never see this on Europe and Asia either.

  21. If it has wheels, it’s not carry-on, it’s luggage.
    Check it.
    Or else pack lighter and in a smaller bag (this is a reasonable option). But stop acting like it’s your privilege to stash your junk on top of everyone else’s head because you can’t be bothered to be polite and leave room for others. Put your personal item under the seat and one CARRY-on overhead. If it doesn’t fit under seat, it’s not personal. Very simple. I welcome discipline by our baggage overlords. And maybe it will break those lazy parents who bring a stroller, diaper bag, purse, second diaper bag, nurse, and two huge roller bags for 2 adults. That’s overkill for a 1 hour flight. CHECK IT. Get the credit card that gives you free checked bag. But you’re not special, stop hogging all the overhead bins and taking forever to board and deplane.

  22. Boarding in the US has become a circus due to carry-ons being brought in board and limits not being enforced.
    It’s not only huge wheeled carry-ons, but the second, personal item. I’d wager that 70% of them are larger than the metrics for personal item allow. The majority of laptop bags and backpacks sold are oversized ..

  23. The first thing that came to mind is the baggage policy that United has when you purchase a ticket but don’t pay for carry-on or checked-in luggage. United won’t issue a boarding pass until you arrive at the airport and their staff view what you are physically bringing on board as your “personal item”.
    So, I am wondering if American is heading towards a policy similar to United or something else????

  24. FAA should be concerned on acft safety and maintenance issues, and leave carry-on bags issues to the respective Ailines..

  25. We flew Ryan Air in Europe and they enforce the carry on rules. It was almost funny watching people have to pay the 50 Euro check fee when they got caught. Yes people tried to sneak it but we’re always caught. We flew Norwegian Air to and from Europe and they certainly weighed our carry ons and checked the dimensions.
    I feel the US air carriers need to do the same, equally enforce the rules across all the airlines and get the people to start following the rules. It will speed up boarding and we all will be happier.

  26. Although agreed that it seems ludicrous that the FAA is concerning themselves with baggage size and amounts, the reality is that they most definitely are. They have come down hard on most of the bigger carriers. I work for another major carrier as a flight attendant and they have also been auditing and fining us (fining the company as well as personal employee fine) for allowing more then than two bags, oversized bags and allowing people to have two roller bags for their two bag limit. The FAA have also been posing as passengers and try to bring on multiple items to see if someone stops them.

  27. You are only allowed one personal bag and one carry on, most women think a purse isn’t a personal item. But it is. Babies are not allowed a bag so a diaper bag counts as a personal item unless the baby has a seat. so a women with a diaper bag purse and carry on has to many things. And most wheel aboard bags are bigger than allowed. by the FAA.

  28. I can clearly see that many of you posting don’t even know or understand the carry-on rules for AA. Wheels have absolutely nothing to do with being a carry-on bag, it’s SIZE. Typically diaper bags do NOT count as the parent’s personal item. I’ve only flown on 2 trips, but I’ve done extensive research on what’s allowed for specific airlines and the FAA. I’d suggest reviewing the rules before commenting.

  29. Yes please, check people’s carry on weights and sizes. As a non-American, I try to keep my carry on to the clearly stated maximums and get very annoyed to see people taking 2-3 times the amount we have.
    Suggestion: why don’t airlines have their airfares based on combined weight of the passenger and all their baggage.

  30. Airlines will force you to check bags so more open overheads. Then sell Super cheap fares to those under 5 ft who will have lay flat area in the overhead.

  31. When traveling with my wife I carry her carry on and my own. She just carries her purse. So I guess she’ll carry her own / at least until after our boarding passes are checked. Wonder how many people thought I was violating the CO rules?

  32. So what is the article about? Maybe more quality instead of trying to sell links to useless chase cards would be helpful ?

  33. Shoot, I’ve been on an LH flight when the gate agent walked around the area with a handheld scale and weighed any carry-on she thought looked suspect. (My small backpack was full of books and probably over whatever minimal weight they actually allow, but she walked right past me, thank goodness.)

  34. I flew to Miami last week. The gate agent made me put my bag in the sizer. She decided it was too thick and that I would have to gate check it. I’ve never had that issue before. I moved stuff into my backpack. It would help if the gate agent knew what type of aircraft it was, and what size the overhead bins were. This plane was a 737 and bags could actually be put on their side. That actually allowed for more bags to fit up there. I ended out putting my backpack up there too, because it didn’t fit under the seat in front of me, and there was room to spare overhead. Aisle seats have much smaller space in front. The backpack probably wouldn’t have needed to be up there if I could have left my suitcase packed the way I originally had it. I guess MCE has its advantages.

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