Reader Question: British Airways & American Airlines Luggage Allowances Not Aligned?

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A LoyaltyLobby reader sent me a question regarding differences between American Airlines and British Airways checked luggage allowances for Oneworld Sapphire members (BA).

Reader Question British Airways & American Airlines Luggage Allowances Not Aligned

Remember that you can always email me, send a message via Facebook or use Twitter and include photos too. I’ll try to cover Reader Questions & Comments here several times a week.

Here’s the email from the reader:

I generally fly British Airways to the US and then with their OneWorld partners, American Airlines, through their domestic flights. The journey is usually frictionless and trouble free, until tonight.

I am flying from LGA to ATL and arrived at the Priority checkin as usual. I am a British Airways Silver, the equivalent of American Airlines Sapphire. When weighing my checked-in luggage, it weighted 53 lbs, that’s 3 lbs above the normal allowance but 17 lbs below my normal allowance. 

The lady at the desk, Jeanette, refused to let it go and demanded that I either remove the 3 lbs or pay $100 extra weight.

Explanations didn’t help, her supervisor, David, also refused and didn’t let me finish a single sentence.

I showed them both the screen shot below from my phone (link attached) showing the 70 lbs allowance to Silver members.

Nothing helped.

Reader Question British Airways & American Airlines Luggage Allowances Not Aligned BA

http://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/information/baggage-essentials/checked-baggage-allowances

They demanded $100 extra. I had to remove a some of my stuff from my luggage and therefore carry two carry-ons instead of my usual one. if they can demand $100 for extra weight, I would like to claim the $100 for having to carry another bag needlessly onboard.

Can you help me in my quest?

Here’s what Oneworld’s website says about Sapphire members luggage allowance:

Extra baggage allowance for Sapphire frequent flyers*

As a Sapphire frequent flyer the following special baggage privileges will apply when you fly on oneworld airlines.

  • On international or domestic itineraries using the baggage allowance “weight” system you receive 15 kgs in addition to the ticketed Economy allowance.
  • On international itineraries (including domestic sectors flown as part of international itineraries) using the baggage allowance “piece” system, you will receive a second bag, weighing up to 23 kgs, when the ticketed allowance is one bag.
  • On domestic itineraries only with flights using the baggage allowance “piece” system, you are guaranteed at least one piece of checked baggage, weighing up to 23 kgs, even when the regular ticketed allowance has no free allowance.

Customers travelling in First and Business Class cabins will in most cases receive an even greater free checked baggage allowance.

*This benefit is not available on British Airways ‘Hand Baggage Only’ fares on select short-haul routes.
*For domestic routes operated by LAN Airlines, Sapphire cardholders may check in up to two bags with a combined weight not exceeding 23 kgs.

What the reader refers on his email is British Airways luggage allowance for Silver members (Oneworld Sapphire).

The reader is flying on American Airlines and this needs to consult AA’s checked luggage allowance that can be found here:

Weight and size

We calculate the size limits of your bag by adding the total outside dimensions of each bag, length + width + height.

For all regions, your checked baggage allowance is:

  • Dimension: 62 in / 158 cm
  • Weight: 50 lbs / 23 kgs
  • For First / Business Class and Brazil, weight is 70 lbs / 32 kgs

1st and 2nd checked bags are complimentary for:

  • AAdvantage® Platinum Pro
  • AAdvantage® Platinum
  • oneworld® Sapphire members
  • Alaska Airlines MVP Gold
  • Confirmed Business Class customers*

Assuming that the reader was flying on economy the checked baggage allowance is two checked bags up to 23 kilos each. If the reader was flying on domestic first class between the two mentioned cities, the weight allowance would have been 32 kilos for each bag.

Note that BA Silver = American Airlines Platinum = Oneworld Sapphire.

Conclusion

The reader could have checked in a second bag if he had one, but the one he had was over the limit for economy passengers when flying on American Airlines.

You need to check the luggage allowance airline by airline and what elite member allowance they may offer. You can usually find the non-elite luggage allowance from the eticket.

British Airways offers very generous carry-on weight allowance of 23 kilos considering that most airlines only allow 8 kilos (anything above that is considered “dangerous”).

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  • Jason

    I am a frequent traveler and only have had a couple of issues with checked baggage. What makes me furious is the amount of junk people take on to planes. Some flexibility should be shown bu airlines in this area. if a passenger is a little over and the bags are packed properly waive them through. Passengers that use Cathay Pacific would I am sure have found there inflexibility frustrating.

  • Danny

    Let’s be realistic. Some agents are baggage Nazis and some are a bit flexible. Same with cops. Some will write you a ticket and some will let you off with a warning. It is the game we play.

  • Flyboy

    People should check with each of their respective airlines when travelling as each Oneworld member is different from another. Why would you show AA your baggage allowance from BA?

    • Well. I think that is is better for us that the exact allowances are not dictated by the alliances because individual airlines often offer more than what is the absolute Oneworld minimum.