A Trick to Saving Money on Overweight Baggage with American Airlines

American Airlines fees for overweight bags can be as much as $450 between the US and Asia.

The standard weight limit is 50 pounds. Between 51 and 70 pounds is $100 per bag. But once you get over 70 pounds things get really expensive.

Something I never knew, though, but that American Airlines shared on twitter is that you can prepay your bag fees over the phone. (HT: Demetrius J.) And since they can’t weigh your bags through the phone line, they assume it’s in the 51-70 pound overweight range.

This isn’t a good deal even if your bags are 70 pounds if you’re a premium cabin customer, an Executive Platinum, or a oneworld emerald (top tier in a oneworld frequent flyer program). That’s because instead of 50 pounds, the weight limit for these customers is 70 pounds at no extra charge anyway and that’s for their free baggage allowance.

But it could be a fantastic deal for someone checking a 75 or 80 pound bag! While not at all a guarantee, if you’ve prepaid your bags most agents aren’t likely to weigh them or worry about modest discrepancies. You may get to slide if you’re a little over.

They’d be entitled to collect a higher fee for a bag that’s substantially over the 70 pound limit, though in practice I wonder how many agents would. Put another way, if you know you’re going to check a bag that’s over 70 pounds and would be on the hook for a big fee it could help to prepay.

In any case I wanted to pass this along because I had no idea that American Airlines offered checked baggage prepayment via reservations.

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. Oddly enough, I had plans to carry a lot of poundage back to the U.S. on an AA award flight. Will this trigger the Barclay Silver Aviator $100 AA fee benefit? Thanks for the tip!

  2. Any bag substantially over 50 lbs is carefully weighed and marked with overweight tags and the exact weight on the tags for the bag handlers. This is a requirement. Take it from a guy that checks up to 9 cases at a time with weights significantly over 50 lbs…this trick may *work* on paper but it’ll never work in reality.

  3. upgrade to first class…baggage allowance is 2 free checked and weight limit is 70lb. worth it.

  4. Ok its total bs for them to charge 30 and then if youre over weight by one pound 100
    So thanks for sharing.

  5. I am flying from Bangkok, Thailand to Dallas Texas via economy. Am I allowed 1 or 2 bags. What’s the weight limit? How much per kilo extra will they charge for being overweight?

  6. International flight frequent allow 2 bags each 50 lbs. Domestic not the case. yes yo’ll most likely charged if over 5 lbs for sure. Also it was suggested up grading to first class, Well I don’t think that is feasible as the cost can be breath taking and cost is the issue right ?.

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