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American Airlines' Baggage Settlement: Today's the Last Day to Claim Money

The carrier is repaying passengers who were incorrectly charged to check their bags.

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Dan Avery Former Writer
Dan was a writer on CNET's How-To and Thought Leadership teams. His byline has appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, NBC News, Architectural Digest and elsewhere. He is a crossword junkie and is interested in the intersection of tech and marginalized communities.
Expertise Personal finance, government and policy, consumer affairs
Dan Avery
3 min read
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Some American Airlines passengers claim they were made to pay fees to check bags even though the service should have been free.

If American Airlines mistakenly charged you to check your bags, today is your last chance to be part of a multimillion-dollar class action settlement.  
According to a 2021 lawsuit, American routinely tells certain passengers that they can check bags for free, but then requires them to pay when they arrive at the airport. Plaintiffs in the case include customers who were part of the AAdvantage Gold status loyalty program and those who had AA-branded credit cards. 
Read onAmerican Airlines Rated Worst for Lost Luggage

American Airlines "systematically breached those contracts by nevertheless requiring those passengers to pay AA to check such bags," according to their complaint.

American Airlines declined to comment, but in court filings, it denied any wrongdoing. 

Some passengers said they requested a refund and were refused. A class representative, Eric Earll, said when he arrived at the airport, the check-in agent told him "this happens all the time and that he had to pay the fee in order to check the bag."

According to the lawsuit, the checked-luggage benefits weren't properly programmed into AA's airport software, an issue that dates back at least a decade.

As part of a settlement, the airline has agreed to pay out at least $7.5 million, but today is the last day to file a claim. 

Read on: What Is a Class Action Lawsuit?

Who qualifies for money from American Airlines?

The settlement breaks class members into two groups:

  • Travelers with AA-branded credit cards that entitled them to free bag-checking privileges but were charged on a domestic flight.
  • Passengers who received email confirmation that one or more of their bags would be free to check but still had to pay.

To qualify for part of the settlement, class members must have traveled on or after Feb. 24, 2017, and their tickets must have been bought no later than April 8, 2020.

How much money could I get from American Airlines? 

While both the class representatives and the airline have agreed to the terms of the settlement, they still need to be approved by the court. If and when that happens, eligible customers will receive a full refund of all relevant checked-baggage fees. 

According to the American Airlines website, the charge for the first checked piece of luggage on a domestic flight is $30. From there, fees increase to $40 for a second bag, $150 for a third bag and $200 for a fourth one.
Refunds will be issued via mailed checks and electronic payments. 

How do I file a claim in this settlement?

You can fill out an online claim form or mail in a completed print form (PDF) to:

Clearly v. American Airlines Settlement
c/o A.B. Data, Ltd.
P.O. Box 173053
Milwaukee, WI 53217 
Claims must be filed online or postmarked by no later than Feb. 22, 2023.  

When will I get my refund?

A final fairness hearing on the case is scheduled for May 8, 2023. Payments for any valid claims will come after then, but they may be delayed by appeals.
"We do not know how long that will take," attorneys for the plaintiffs said in a statement. "Please be patient."