You Still Get Priority Security and Boarding on Avios Awards that Fly American Airlines

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I noticed in August 2012 that on my Avios award flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles, my boarding pass printed with “Priority AAccess,” granting me priority security and priority boarding.

This (unintended?) benefit of British Airways Avios awards on American Airlines flights is still alive. I flew Los Angeles to Honolulu today for 12,500 Avios and $2.50, and I again had “Priority AAccess” printed on my boarding pass.

Today priority boarding was a lifesaver because I had two way overstuffed carry ons that weighed about 65 pounds total to put into overhead bins.

I wouldn’t pay much extra for Priority AAccess, but it is a nice free throw in on what is already an incredible value award.

For other top values to get to Hawaii, see The Cheapest Ways to Get to Hawaii.

The only other thing of note on my trip was that I had two potential checked bags–one that weighed 53 pounds and another that was 65 linear inches.

In the past, I’ve gotten a little bit of a pass for bags slightly over 50 pounds, so I wasn’t worried about that one. Worst case scenario, I pull something out for a carry on.

The box that was 65 linear inches worried me though because American Airlines charges $200 extra for checked bags more than 62 linear inches.

FedEx quoted me $115 to ship the box, but if American enforced its baggage rules, I’d have to pay $235 ($35 for a second checked bag plus $200 for an oversized bag) for the box.

I tried to estimate the chances of the $200 fee being imposed. I wondered whether they would be lower if I tried to check it with a Sky Cap while I held a $20 bill in my hand.

In the end, I figured there was more than a 50% chance of being charged the fee, so my expected cost was cheaper by shipping the box.

But after checking the overweight bag with a SkyCap, I regretted my decision to ship the box. The SkyCap had no scale, presumably no tape measure, and walked away with my bag in such a way that it would have been very difficult to track me back down to collect $200.

What would you have done with my oversized box? (Note that I could not have used a smaller box.)


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15 COMMENTS

  1. Last winter I checked an over-sized box from ATL to PEK. The box is about 67″ and 40lbs but the lady at check-in didn’t even bother to question me about the size. I think as long as the bag is clearly way over-sized or odd shaped then you should be fine check it.

  2. I’m wondering how you got on with the “two way overstuffed carry-ons…to put into overhead bins.” Doesn’t one of these go under the seat in front of you?

    • By rule, yes. Luckily the flight ended up being not full, so there was space for everyone in the overhead bins.

  3. I’m always scared to go on AA with a snowboard bag. I like to take Southwest instead. What are the chances of me getting charged with a snowboard bag over 60 inches on AA?

  4. I inquired/complained to AA cs about being denied Priority Checkin which I thought was part of Priority AAccess. After checking with FlyerTalk, I stayed mum and am grateful for the glitch. (Unlike Obamacare, am I right? lol)

  5. I grew up in NY, and tipping is a way of life. $20 has bought me some amazing things…tipping the skycap would have been my only thought…It’s what they do

  6. I just took the short LAX-SJC AA flight which I had booked through BA and by boarding passes had the Priority AAccess printed on it. At LAX terminal 4 when I went to check-in, they directed me to the priority check-in area which was empty. They didn’t have any problems checking me in there. Not sure if that will happen again next time, but I’m taking the same flight in 2 weeks so I guess I’ll find out.

  7. My vote is for the tip at the curb check-in. Those guys appreciate the extra money and always overlook size, weight, and most important for me, the checked bag cut off time. For me, I am at 100% success rate when late, too heavy or too big out at curb. My tip is always commensurate with the degree of lateness or overage. (ie 10 bucks if 5 or so min late or 5 lbs over, and 20 for anything “worse.” Works like a charm every time.

    • I wish I had posted this before! I really think with a $20 bill visible, the extra 3 lbs in one bag and 3″ in the other disappear. Live and learn. I don’t think this was my last time flying, so I’m sure I’ll have a chance to use my new knowledge.

  8. I booked an award flight (my 1st) using Avios points to Maui on American Airlines. Do I go to BA or AA website to do priority check-in and print my boarding? I called BA and was told I should go to AA for my priority check in, but when I called AA, was told I should do it on BA website. Now I’m confused.

    • Always check in with the operating carrier. But, and this is rare, ba.com should have a link to check in with AA inside your account starting 24 hours in advance.

  9. Can confirm that boarding passes for avios flights on AA are still being tagged as priority as of last night!

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