Carry On Won’t Fit In The Bag Sizer? American Will Now Charge You To Check It

From now on when American Airlines takes your carry on bag at the gate and requires you to check it, you can expect to pay for the privilege – unless you’re entitled to free checked bags with a premium cabin ticket, AAdvantage elite status, or co-brand credit card.

Frequently customers bring more carry on bags than they’re allowed, or bags that are bigger than what’s permitted. Gate agents are supposed to insist that the passenger checks the bag. They used to do this for free, but according to a new American Airlines “Airport Excellence Advisory” agents are now supposed to collect a checked bag fee.

Some people used to take their bag that they planned to check through security, and just turn it over at the gate. Usually they’d hope that the agent would announce a voluntary program to check bags, since there won’t be enough overhead bin space for everyone. These offers will still be free (though much more rare since American’s new domestic interior includes larger overhead bins that can fit more bags).

According to American, charging customers whose bags don’t fit in the sizer “will create a consistent customer experience for those who bring non-compliant bags to the gate.”

The only exception to this policy is that agents aren’t supposed to sacrifice D0 and delay departure in order to process fees for gate checked bags.


Checked Bags Piled Up In Phoenix

American will charge you for gate checked bags but they still won’t guarantee how long it will take for those bags to arrive once you land at your destination.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. Good way to break some overhead bins.

    The last thing I want to do while traveling is wait 45 minutes for my checked bags to show up after my flight (looking at you DTW).

    At the end of the day, I can’t help but feel it’s not about D0, it’s just another revenue stream, like every other business decision in the airline industry these days.

  2. Good!! Tired of people gaming the system carrying more bags than allowed or oversized bags then planning to gate check them “free”.

  3. Everyone with extra/oversize bags should just sit until they get paged a couple of times before they close the flight so the gate agents don’t have time for luggage. The D0 times will be in bad shape when half the boarding area doesn’t even get up until they announce last call. They can’t finalize passenger manifests and weight/balance until all passengers are on board.

  4. Good. This is consistent with other airlines and a good way to stop people from cheating to get free checked bags.

  5. When a flyer brings both a bag and a personal item, AA should also do a similar check for “personal items” that won’t fit under the seat in front of the flyer. The free additional carry-on “personal item” is often an abused perk too.

  6. I wonder why they are sort of half-a**ed about this. I think strict enforcement would be a win for them overall. Sure, it’s a short-term cost, long-term benefit kinda thing, but still..

  7. Those carry on bag sizers are tiny. I get trying to stop people from bringing massive bags, but many normal-looking carry on bags that easily fit inside an overhead bin wouldn’t fit in the sizers.

  8. I guess we will be seeing some more “fights” at the gate over money. Should we call it a sign of “urban decay” or “greedy corporate/airline service decay”?

  9. On a flight last week I counted 7 people with more than 4 items trying to get down the aisle???

  10. I presume if my ticket includes a carry-on bag and my bag is compliant but there is no room and I’m required to check it that it will still be free?

  11. It’s a shame that the effort a few years ago to have “certified” bags never stuck around. Most people just buy a suitcase that is labeled as “carry-on” size without paying any attention at all to the dimensions of the bag or to the dimensions allowed. If the airlines would just all agree to a specific size and the IATA or similar organization would certify compliant bags, this would all be a lot easier for everyone.

  12. Watch this be disproportionately enforced against BIPOC passengers.

    This is the kind of policy a very stupid person thinks is good. Because a very stupid person can’t think beyond the surface. Carry on limits are published, and so are checked bag fees, which justifies this move by AA, according to very stupid people who obviously congregate in blog comment sections.

    Smart people also congregate here and notice things like AA gate agents have a reputation for being rude, this new policy will only exacerbate rudeness, we are going to see a lot more arguments at gates.

    Well, not me. I don’t fly AA. Hope the airline goes bankrupt and their new DFW HQ offices are repurposed into community centers.

  13. People who cheer this policy aren’t necessarily stupid, they may be cynics who love seeing others get slapped with fees. I personally love seeing these folks get slapped with vaginitis.

  14. It will probably just cause more delayed flights. How many times have you been on a flight near or past departure time and people are having to bring bags to the front of the plane for checking because of no space. Now gate agents will have to take time for payment. A walk through the boarding area by a gate agent prior to boarding telling people their bag won’t fit was will have to be checked would solve a lot of problems. But it might also create new ones. My bag is the legal dimensions for a carry on and it fits in every overhead bin designed for roll aboard bags but it will not fit in the bag sizer without a lot of effort. Some gate agent on a power trip could decide my bag is too big instead of strictly looking for the bags that really are too big. I always carry on and even if I check one bag I still carry one on simply because I have gotten to a destination with no luggage at all.

  15. Great for those wth oversized or multiple items. But I carry ONE roller which has no trouble fitting in overheads around the world, including some seriously small 3rd world country regional planes. UNTIL I met AA regional plane out of their crappy hub in Charlotte.

    Despite flying FC, their tiny plane compartments barely held a billfold, much less a regulation size roller.

    Bottom line…no more flying through Charlotte and AA went to the bottom of my flight choices.

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