What Keeps American Airlines From Offering a Checked Baggage Guarantee

Delta and Alaska Airlines commit to delivering checked bags within 20 minutes of each flight arriving. United and American make no such commitment. An American employee asked about what the airline can do to improve its baggage delivery times, and management provided a response in writing outlining some of the challenges that they have with bags – and how it’s supposed to work.

There are several things we can do to ensure bags make it ot the right place quickly after a flight has landed. It all starts with ensuring that when the aircraft is loaded at its origin the baggage is properly separated. Starting with loading the local bags (going to baggage claim), then the transfer bags (bags connecting to other flights), then priority bags (checked by our most valuable customers and storing with the local bags). The transfer bags have to be separated once more into online bags (mainline) and American Eagle bags (regional). There are typically different drivers, moving each of those and unloading them together will help those drivers start the process faster.

If all of this is done at the originthen the baggage is more quickly sorted once it arrives at its destination. Team members should be ready upon arrival by being in position before the aircraft arrives, with equipment stages and ready to go. We have technology available that lets us know when the last bag has been scanned to go to baggage claim, team members should immediately go to baggage claim with the bags and not wait until the entire plane is unloaded “just to make sure.” Priority bags should be arranged to unload first, as this is our commitment to our most valuable customers.

We do have a scorecard that shows our 20-minute baggage delivery complaince. However there is a plan to create a variable target for each flight that will be shown to the crew chief or team lead before they begin offloading.

And here’s why you frequently don’t get your checked bags during irregular operations when you change from one flight to another. If you don’t have a seat assignment for your new flight, assume your bag will not make it.

Deviate (DV8) is the application used to reroute baggage and it identifies when an itinerary with a bag has changed. If a customer is rebooked from one flght to another and checked in for the new flight with a seat assignment, it triggers a change in the program. When that bag is then scanned by the DV8 program (on mobile or desktop) an overlay is printed on a connected Bluetooth printer. Unfortunately the customer must be checked in with the seat assignment for that change to occur in Sabre. So if a customer elects to stand by on another flight or does not receive a seat assignment until shortly before the plane departs which happens frequently during IROPS there isn’t enough time to then locate the bag and get it onto the right aircraft. The DV8 team is working with Passenger Service Support on ways to make improvements where we could provide that information earlier to our ramp team members.

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. Why doesn’t American offer a 20 minute bag guarantee? They are smart enough to know it would bankrupt them in 2 weeks.

  2. And that’s substantively different from what Delta deals with how? Other than the general issue that, operationally, AA sucks and DL doesn’t?

  3. While a guarantee is fine, I don’t find it necessary. I always track my bags on the app, so I can manage my expectations (or spend a few minutes in the admirals club on arrival). Granted, I rarely check backs (maybe once every few months). But the app helps in my opinion.

  4. American is the only airline where I have to plan for 45-60 minutes at LAX for bag delivery. SAD! Delta, United, and Southwest are usually there quickly though.

  5. I used to game Delta’s bag guarantee and check whenever I could because there would usually be a few minutes delay. Now my bag is beating me to the landside at ATL.

  6. I would say I almost NEVER get a checked bag from AA within 20 minutes. 40+ minutes is normal and depending on the airport it could be up to an hour LAX is absolutely horrible for checked bags. Atlanta is also very bad time wise for some reason even though AA only has a few gates

  7. One of my clients used to fly American until they lost his luggage 3 separate times. He refuses to fly American now, no matter the price or the convenience.

  8. AA at DTW is horrible for checked bags. 30 mins. plus most every time. Funny how Alaska can get it done there.

  9. Lost or delayed?

    A lot of people say bags were lost when they were just mis-routed or delayed. If you get them back within a couple of days they were not lost. It would still be a pain on outbound flights.

    I’ve had mine delayed a couple of times but never once lost. And fortunately, except for one time it was on the inbound (i.e., home) flight so it wasn’t a big deal. The one time it was in Italy but it was kind of our fault and it still arrived at the hotel within a few hours.

  10. Greed which transcends into every molecule of the Parker Business culture
    From Customer Relations,award redemption in flight amenities,comfort etc
    Quite frankly everything that made me leave the company where I happily previously traveled
    for decades with

  11. American Airlines at my small local airport take 45 mins and I found out why, only one guy to do all the work. Yes American is doing it on purpose to save money.

  12. Because that’s the way they like it.their employees don’t care you figure that 80000 people work there for just a paycheck attitude, 80%have idgaf attitude 5 % may care a little leaving 15% to do the work of a global airline, and you have doug (the drunk) parker CEO. Running the show obtw he has 4 criminal DUI charges in Arizona where he was CEO of America west. Dont see anything changing

  13. Never been able to understand why, at DFW, where the distance from plane to baggage claim is the shortest of most every airport, bags take the LONGEST to show up on the belt.

Comments are closed.