How to check in for flights on American Airlines

Apr 19, 2020

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It’s almost time for your flight, and there’s just one thing left to do before heading for airport security. And that’s packing check in. This is the process that creates your boarding pass and allows you to check your bags at the airport

You can do this formality online or at the airport, though many will prefer the convenience of the former. Either way, there are some rules to understand, so let’s dive deep into checking in for an American Airlines flight.

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How to check in online for American Airlines flights

You can check in for AA flights on the airline’s website or through the mobile app. The experience is very similar, though the benefit of the mobile app is that you can generate a digital boarding pass within your mobile wallet.

After locating your reservation using your six-digit confirmation number, you’ll be prompted to check in at the top left corner of the reservation page.

Pressing that button will take you through the check-in process. You’ll then need to agree to the hazardous materials policy. Pressing continue will bring you to the Trip Options page, where you can purchase additional miles for your trip (don’t do it; it’s a bad deal).

You’ll then be brought to the seat map to select or modify your seat for your flight(s).

After you select your seats, you’ll be checked in!

You then have the option of printing your boarding passes now, emailing a mobile boarding pass to your phone or saving a PDF of your boarding pass.

Rules for American Airlines flight check-in

You can check in online or using the mobile app starting 24 hours before and up to 45 minutes before departure of the first flight in your itinerary. This applies even if you have a connecting flight that’s more than a day away. Note that online and app check-in closes an hour and a half before departure for international flights.

If you’re planning to check bags at the airport, you need to have the bags checked at least 45 minutes prior to domestic flights and 60 minutes prior to international flights. There are some airports with exceptions to this rule, which you can find on AA’s website.

Related: How to avoid checked baggage fees on major domestic airlines

Furthermore, there are some airports that won’t accept checked bags more than four hours before scheduled departure. This includes:

  • Denver (DEN)
  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Orlando (MCO)
  • Portland, Oregon (PDX)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC)
  • Seattle (SEA)

If the first flight of your itinerary is operating by an American Airlines partner, you’re going to check in with that airline directly, and not on AA’s website.

Tips and tricks to checking in for American Airlines flights

There are some things to consider when you check in for your flight. Make sure you have your confirmation number handy, especially if you’re going to check in at the airport. The kiosks default to ask for that code, so this can save time.

I personally prefer to use mobile boarding passes to save paper and have one less thing to worry about misplacing. That said, you need to be sure you have your phone’s battery charged for the entire trip, otherwise you’ll be forced to get a physical boarding pass.

Another tip about mobile boarding passes is to screenshot it after it gets created. I often find that retrieving the mobile boarding pass can be confusing when you’re under pressure, so be sure to screenshot it for easy access.

Lastly, if you get an error checking in online, fear not. You may be on a military fare, have a pet or are traveling with an unaccompanied minor. Or you may be subject to the dreaded SSSS, which will be printed on your boarding pass at the airport.

Bottom line

Checking in for your American Airlines flight is exciting. That means it’s almost time to take to the skies. But, there are some tips and tricks to know and some rules to follow to make it an efficient process.

Armed with this guide, you’ll be ready to head to the airport in no time.

All photos by the author. 

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