You Can Check In – And Check Bags – Closer To Departure Than American Airlines Says On Its Website

Six years ago I shared that, despite publishing a minimum time to check in of 45 minutes prior to departure, with a few exceptions American actually lets you check in 27 minutes before a flight. That meant setting systems to 30 minutes, minus a 3 minute grace period.

Checked bag cutoff has had that same 3 minute grace period – so you’re able to check bags 42 minutes prior to departure for a domestic flight (45 minutes is the published rule) and 57 minutes prior to departure for international (60 minutes is what’s published). Again, there are a handful of airport exceptions.

American has now aligned self-service check-in machines to have the same cut-off times as the system agents use at the counter.

However there are still times when you’ll need to see an agent to take advantage of an exception. If you’re taking a domestic connection to an international flight, self-service kiosks will apply the international cut-off for bags. So if you show up for your domestic flight and try to check bags 50 minutes prior to departure, you’ll need to see an agent.

At the SSM, if a customer with a bag attempts to check in at D-50, they would not be permitted since the international check-in cut off applies. The customer would need to see an agent and D-42 domestic baggage cutoff would apply.

If you miss the baggage cut-off time for your flight, think up a good excuse, be nice, and generate sympathy from the agent you’re talking to. It’s possible to override these minimums, but only “by a supervisor with a 7 sine in QIK.”

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. If you a truly in a pinch, check in at the Skycap with a hefty (and I mean hefty) tip. $100+ per bag.

  2. “7 sine in QIK” – what does this mean? Some indication of their seniority level?

  3. Was able to check in 35 mins before departure at ORD Terminal 5 desk (just after Customs) after getting off a late arriving TK flight from IST

  4. Don’t sell people on the idea that they can come so late to the airport like that, TSA lines are so long that by the time they make in through security they’ve already missed their flight and their bags left them!

  5. Supervisors (CSCs) usually have the “7 sine,” which just means that they have some override capabilities in QIK. Some regular agents may have them if, at some point, they were CSCs. Most supervisors will not check late bags since they might misconnect, causing the station’s misconnect bag numbers to go up.

  6. Interesting. I wasn’t able to check a bag at t-42 earlier this year at LAX. Side note, I was actually there at t-48 but lost time trying to use a broken machine.
    Worked out fine as the checked bag were my ski boots. I took them through security and then gate checked them.

  7. Where do you get this BS.
    No agent including myself will check in past cutoff and there is no override. System doesn’t allow it. Full stop.

    So anyone who tries this is foolish. Miss your flight and standby is a long shot and you’re stuck.

    Keep posting untruths Gary, and make all our jobs even more problematic and unsafe by irate pax who physically assault us. If one does and quotes your advice good luck to you.

  8. As a ramp worker my only thought about this is that your bag is not gonna make the flight. As soon as the cutoff time is reached we bring the bags out to the plane, so if your bag comes down past that time then we’re already gone and your bag isn’t gonna make it.

    So if anyone tries this then they’ll probably get mad at the airline for their bag not making it but in reality it was their fault for being late.

  9. Ramp Agent I don’t know whether you worked for American but it was a point of pride when I was an FSC that late bags made the flight. If the a/c was a narrow body we would not hesitate to load the bags while the plane was in the alley as long as the fight crew consented..

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