Flying with American
What you need to know before you go
Safety is our top priority. We're also committed to providing a positive and dependable travel experience for all of our customers. We hope this information will help you prepare for your trip. We understand traveling can be stressful, and we appreciate your patience and courtesy.
This guidance is not intended to replace the Conditions of carriage, which covers all of your rights and responsibilities as a passenger.
We sell 2 types of tickets – refundable and non-refundable:
If you booked at least 2 days before departure, you can get a full refund within 24 hours from the time you bought your ticket, no matter if it's refundable or non-refundable.
- A refundable ticket allows you to change or cancel your flight without a fee.
- A non-refundable ticket may cost less, but if you need to make changes you'll be charged a change fee and any difference in fare. If you buy a Basic Economy fare, changes are not allowed.
There is a fee to check bags with some exceptions. Make sure to read our checked bag policy before you travel.
Our Basic Economy fare is for the no-frills, price-conscious traveler who wants to get from point A to point B as affordably as possible. This fare includes a seat in the Main Cabin but has some restrictions.
For customers who don't mind paying extra for more comfort, we offer Premium Economy, First and Business, as well as seats in the Main Cabin with more legroom and Preferred Seats which are favorably located throughout the cabin but have standard legroom.
Preparing to travel
Being prepared is the best way to ensure smooth travel. Every airport is different, so do a little research if it's your first time flying to or from a city. You'll need a valid photo ID accepted by the TSA (like a driver’s license or other government-issued ID) for domestic travel and a valid passport or visa, and any travel documents required by your international destination.
Starting May 3, 2023, you’ll need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or other accepted ID, like a valid passport or U.S. military ID, to fly within the U.S. REAL ID-compliant cards generally have a star at the top. If you’re unsure, contact your state driver’s license agency on how to get a REAL ID-compliant card.
TSA won’t allow you to pass through security checkpoints at the airport if your ID doesn’t comply.
The TSA Secure Flight program requires us to collect this information when you book including the:
- Name as it appears on the government-issued ID you travel with
- Date of birth
- Redress Number (optional)
We may cancel your trip if we don't have this information at least 72 hours before departure.
You can check in on aa.com and in the app beginning 24 hours before departure. All airports have minimum check-in times. If you're not checked in by the minimum check-in time, you may lose your seat.
In most cities, you must be checked in:
- At least 45 minutes before scheduled departure, for flights within the U.S.
- At least 60 minutes before scheduled departure, for flights to or from airports outside of the U.S.
Some airports require you to check in earlier.
Know of any changes, weather events and other important updates before you leave home.
Check for travel alerts that impact the cities in your trip.
Sign up for flight status information like gates, delays, departure reminders and more.
Download the American app to get real time updates about your travel. Plus, you can watch free movies and TV shows on board through the app. (Don't forget your earphones.)
In general, you're allowed 1 bag and 1 personal item:
- Your bag must fit in the sizer at the airport.
- Your personal item must fit under the seat in front of you.
In the event the bins are full and you have to gate-check a bag, put any fragile or valuable items like keys, medication or computers in the personal item you bring on the plane.
There are additional carry-on restrictions for certain aircraft and airports.
If you’re a family traveling with children under 15, and do not already have seats assigned, our system will search for seats together automatically before the day of departure. We’ll try our best to keep you together, but if seats are limited, we’ll assign seats so children under 15 are next to at least 1 adult.
We care about our four-legged customers too. Cats and small dogs can travel in the cabin, but they must stay in an approved carrier that fits under the seat. Larger dogs can travel in the cargo hold of some planes. There is a fee to travel with your pet.
Service animals are welcome at no charge if they meet the requirements. The animal must fit on your lap, at your feet or under your seat, and cannot block the aisle.
Emotional support animals require specific documentation; please review the requirements before travel.
For everyone's safety on board, some common items are restricted by the TSA and FAA. Be sure you know what you can carry on and what you can check in your bags before you go to the airport.
We don't transport hazardous materials, except for small amounts of dry ice.
You can travel with firearms in checked bags only. Firearms must be declared to an agent at check-in. There are other rules that apply.
On occasion, there are more checked-in customers than seats. When this happens, our team gets involved as early as possible to find volunteers to change flights in exchange for compensation.
When we don’t have enough volunteers, we have to choose customers to change flights involuntarily, or deny boarding. If this happens, we'll follow the DOT's compensation rules and get those customers on the next possible flight. We will not involuntarily remove a revenue passenger who has already boarded in order to give a seat to another passenger.
At the gate
You must be at the gate and ready to board the plane:
- 15 minutes before departure on domestic flights
- 30 minutes before departure for international flights
Be sure to check your boarding pass for boarding times. If you're not at the gate in time, your seat may be given to a standby passenger.
The doors close at least 10 minutes before departure. Once the door is shut, it will not be reopened unless there is health, safety or security issue.
We board in groups; check your boarding pass for your boarding group. We offer early boarding to customers who need special assistance or more time to board, along with families with children under 2 years who ask to board early.
Strollers should be checked at the gate before boarding and picked up after your flight at the gate, free of charge.
Wheelchairs can be gate-checked and picked up after your flight at the gate, free of charge. We are available to help you to and from your seat once you check your wheelchair.
On the plane
Welcome aboard! Anything you carried on must fit in the overhead bins or under the seat in front of you. If the bins are full or your bag is too big we'll help gate-check it. Musical instruments count as a carry-on and must fit safely in the bin, under the seat or in a closet (unless you paid for an extra seat).
Have a nut allergy? Though we don't serve peanuts, we do serve food that may contain other types of nuts and customers may carry on peanuts. We're unable to make special accommodations or provide nut-free zones on board, so we strongly encourage you to take all necessary medical precautions before flying.
And finally, our crewmembers are here to ensure a safe and pleasant flying experience for you and everyone onboard your flight. Please let them know if you have any questions and be sure to comply with their instructions, which are designed to keep you and everyone on board safe and comfortable.
When you arrive
We hope you enjoyed your flight and look forward to seeing you again.
Need a receipt for an onboard purchase or to request a refund?
If your bag didn't arrive with you or there's damage to something you checked, please stop by the baggage service office when you arrive. American’s Customer Baggage Notification also alerts you shortly after arriving at your final destination if your bags didn’t make the plane or were sent ahead of you. To receive alerts, you can use the American Airlines app, sign up for AAdvantage or provide contact information during booking or check-in. You can also file a report with us.
Have a compliment or want to let us know how we can improve? We want to hear from you.
- Email Customer Relations
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Thank you for choosing American for your travel needs.