American Airlines Lost Luggage: What to Know

Whether you’re #TeamCarryon or #TeamCheckedBag, you may need to check luggage on your next flight. While most bags arrive on time and without problems, airlines occasionally lose your luggage.

On American Airlines, lost luggage may actually just be delayed arrive on the next flight. In some instances, it can be completely misplaced. Here’s what you should do, how to contact American Airlines and what American Airlines’ compensation is for lost luggage.

What to do when American Airlines loses luggage

When your luggage is lost on American Airlines, you need to act swiftly to give the airline the best chance of finding your luggage and returning it to you.

American Airlines lost luggage rules for domestic flights state that you should report your missing bags within four hours of arriving at your destination. If you used Bags VIP Luggage Delivery, you have 12 hours to report the missing luggage.

On international flights, you should report your missing bags upon arriving at your destination and before leaving the airport.

If you have travel insurance or purchased your flight with a credit card that offers lost luggage benefits, you may not need to file a claim right away. However, you should still report the missing bag to the airline and receive a claim number before leaving the airport.

How to check bags for free on American Airlines

One fee that travelers always need to consider is the cost of checking a bag. However, there are numerous ways you can get a bag checked for free on American Airlines.

Traveling on an international flight

When flying on transatlantic flights you may be entitled to check one bag for free on American Airlines. But you don’t have to cross the Atlantic to get this perk. There are other select international destinations that also allow for a free checked bag.

However, you are not eligible for this complimentary bag if you are flying in basic economy.

Traveling in a premium cabin

While traveling in a premium cabin tends to be more expensive, it often comes with added perks to make the investment worth it. One such perk is getting checked bags for free.

With American Airlines you will get free checked bags when flying in a premium cabin. The number of free checked bags you get depends on the cabin you are flying in.

You will get your first and second checked bag free when flying:

You will get your first, second and third checked bag free when flying:

Being an AAdvantage elite member

Becoming an elite member of an airline also comes with numerous perks. One such perk with American Airlines is getting free checked bags. American Airlines has four tiers of elite status, and the amount of free checked bags you will receive depends on your elite status level.

American Airlines is also a member of the Oneworld Alliance.

When you have status with American, it earns you reciprocal status with Oneworld, so you can take advantage of it when traveling on Oneworld airlines.

  • Oneworld Ruby: One free checked bag.

  • Oneworld Sapphire: Two free checked bags.

  • Oneworld Emerald: Three free checked bags.

Having an American Airlines co-branded credit card

You don’t have to fly in a premium cabin or have elite status to get free checked bags. You can get a free checked bag simply by having a co-branded credit card.

You and up to four companions traveling with you on a domestic itinerary are entitled to one free checked bag if you are the primary cardholder on any of the following:

You and up to eight companions traveling with you on a domestic itinerary are entitled to one free checked bag if you are the primary cardholder on any of the following:

AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®

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Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®

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AAdvantage® Aviator® World Elite Silver Mastercard®

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Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®

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$0 intro for the first year, then $99.

Welcome offer


Earn 50,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles after making your first purchase and paying the $99 annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days.

Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

Earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $7,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.

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Free checked bags for members of the military

Active members of the U.S. military are also entitled to check their bags for free. If you are traveling on orders, you and your dependents can check up to five bags free of charge. For personal travel, you can check up to three bags for free.

Who to contact when American Airlines loses your luggage

When flying American Airlines and your luggage gets lost, who you contact depends on what coverages you have.

The airline

In any situation, you’ll start by contacting American Airlines about your lost luggage. At most airports, there will be an American Airlines counter near baggage claim where you can speak with an agent.

Let them know your luggage is missing and that you’d like to submit a claim form. When you’re done filing your report, the agent will provide a 13-character file ID you can use to get the status of your bags and follow up on your claim.

After leaving the airport, you can call the American Airlines lost luggage phone number at (800) 433-7300. Once your bag has been missing for five or more days, the airline considers it lost luggage, and you can submit an online claim for reimbursement.

Your credit card

Credit card benefits vary by bank and which credit card you have. Typically, lost luggage benefits are provided by third-party companies rather than the bank itself. For these benefits to cover your lost bags, you must have paid some or all of the flight costs with your credit card.

When you have an American Airlines lost luggage situation, contact your credit card and let customer service know you want to file a claim. The agent should provide the phone number for the claims department, and then they may transfer your call.

When speaking with the claims department, provide information related to your claim, including flight number, travel date and American Airlines lost luggage file ID number.

Depending on the company, the agent may help you complete the claim form during the call or send it to you by email or postal service. In some cases, you may be able to fill it out online. Gather information for your claim, including copies of your flight receipt, police report (if applicable) and receipts for replaced items.

Travel insurance carrier

Many travelers purchase a single-trip or annual travel insurance policy to protect themselves against situations like the airline losing their luggage. If American Airlines loses your luggage and you have a policy, contact the travel insurance provider’s claims department.

When speaking with the claims department, they’ll let you know what information is needed and how to submit your claim. Sometimes, you can submit all required information online or through the company’s mobile app to speed up your claim.

Homeowners or renters’ insurance provider

Some policies for homeowners and renters cover possessions when you leave your residence. While this coverage may reimburse the cost of your luggage and your belongings, you may have to pay your deductible before receiving any money. Additionally, your insurance premiums may increase after filing a claim.

For these reasons, compare your deductible against your claim amount and estimate how much your premiums may rise to determine if filing a claim is a good idea.

Documents needed when filing a claim

The documents you must provide when filing a claim for lost bags vary depending on who you’re filing with. However, there are some common forms and receipts you’ll need to get reimbursed for most claims.

  • Completed and signed American Airlines lost luggage claim form.

  • Receipt for the purchase of your flight.

  • Credit card statement showing flight purchase.

  • Copies of receipts for replacement items.

  • Copies of original receipts for items lost.

  • Any additional documents necessary to validate your claim.

American Airlines compensation for lost luggage

The amount of compensation for American Airlines lost baggage varies based on which company is providing the money. In general, money received from the airline is deducted from eligible claims through your credit card benefits, travel insurance or home/renters insurance.

From the airline

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the maximum compensation for lost luggage depends on whether it is a domestic or international flight. While airlines are free to exceed these limits, most airlines stay within these guidelines.

The maximum compensation for domestic flights is $3,800 per passenger. The Montreal Convention governs the maximum compensation for international flights. Currently, the maximum compensation is about $1,700 per passenger (1,288 Special Drawing Rights). This cap is adjusted every five years to account for inflation.

Credit card benefits

The compensation for lost bags can vary widely among credit cards that offer this benefit. One of the credit cards with the most robust travel protections is the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

Its lost luggage reimbursement policy covers up to $3,000 per person on a trip. However, this coverage has sub-limits of $500 for jewelry and watches and another $500 for cameras and other electronic equipment. You’ll be reimbursed for the actual cash value of items, which is defined as the replacement cost minus depreciation.

Travel insurance policy

Reimbursement for lost bags through your travel insurance policy typically follows the same procedures as credit card travel protection. However, coverage limits vary based on the type and size of travel insurance purchased. For example, the Allianz OneTrip Premier policy covers up to $2,000 per insured traveler.

American Airlines lost luggage recapped

Even when you’re on #TeamCarryon, you may be forced to check your luggage when the overhead bins are full. That’s why it is important for all travelers to understand the American Airlines lost luggage policy and reimbursement limits. If your bags are lost, start the claims process immediately upon arriving at the airport.

The American Airlines agent will provide you with a file ID number that you’ll need to submit a claim with the airline and (if you’re eligible) through your credit card benefits and travel insurance provider. While it is tempting to put off filing a claim until later, doing it right away reduces the chances that you’ll lose the required documentation or miss important deadlines.

The information related to CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.

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