How to See If American Airlines Owes You Money in Their Checked-Bag Settlement

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Even before the pandemic made everything worse, air travel was already harder than it needed to be. One of the most frustrating parts is that as a passenger, you could do everything right—following all the rules, getting there with ample of time before your flight, always having your ticket and ID ready to go—and still encounter plenty of hassle, thanks to other people who weren’t prepared, or didn’t follow TSA guidelines.

In other situations, it’s on the airlines. This was the case for many American Airlines customers, who accused the air travel provider of requiring them to pay for checked bags that were supposed to be free.

The result was a class-action lawsuit, and in August, the airline agreed to pay the customers a settlement in order to resolve the issue. Here’s what you need to know about the payout, including whether you’re eligible to claim a portion of it.

Why was there a class-action lawsuit against American Airlines?

One of the perks of having Gold Status in the AAdvantage loyalty program is getting to check a bag for free. That also happens to be a benefit that comes with certain American Airlines-branded credit cards. So after AA customers in both of those categories were forced to pay to check their bags, a group came together to file a class-action lawsuit against American Airlines.

In their complaint, these individuals (the plaintiffs in the lawsuit) claim that when they went up to the counter to check their bags, the AA employee told them that even with their Gold Status or AA-branded credit cards, the computer doesn’t indicate that they get to check any bags for free.

The plaintiffs come to the conclusion that the AA computer system had not been updated to reflect this perk, and “as a result, AA passengers were improperly charged and forced to pay baggage fees.”

In its own court filings, American Airlines denied any wrongdoing. Yet, in August, the company agreed to a payout of at least $7.5 million to compensate the customers who were incorrectly charged to check bags. The settlement is currently awaiting final approval from the court.

How to know if you qualify to receive part of the settlement

In the settlement, class members are divided 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.

In addition to fitting into at least one of the groups above, you also must have traveled on or after Feb. 24, 2017, and your tickets must have been purchased no later than April 8, 2020.

If the court approves American Airlines’ proposed settlement, those who qualify will get a full refund for the checked bags they paid for that were supposed to be free.

How to file a claim in the settlement

This is also on hold until a court approves the settlement, but in papers American Airlines provided to the court, the company indicates that it plans to notify customers who are eligible to receive a refund as part of the settlement. For now, your best bet is to keep an eye on the settlement website for updates.

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