American Airlines Baggage & Basic Economy Updates

Filed Under: American

American Airlines has today announced some updates to its baggage policy, as well as an expansion of basic economy to more markets. Here’s how Vasu Raja, American’s Chief Revenue Offer, describes these changes:

“We want to make American the easiest airline to do business with. To accomplish this, we are creating transparent fare products and policies that are consistent across our global network so customers can clearly choose their experience when they travel with us.”

What all is changing?

All premium economy tickets offer two free checked bags

For tickets issued as of February 23, 2021, all American Airlines premium economy tickets will include two free checked bags, regardless of the route or destination.

As a point of comparison, previously American offered premium economy passengers only one free checked bag in some markets (like for flights to Hawaii), so this is a wholly positive change.

American has increased the premium economy baggage allowance

Long haul main cabin tickets all offer one free checked bag

For tickets issued as of February 23, 2021, all American Airlines long haul main cabin tickets will include one free checked bag. This applies to all economy tickets booked in “main cabin,” which is everything except basic economy tickets.

This is a negative change — previously all long haul main cabin tickets received at least one free checked bag, while main cabin tickets to Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea, included two free checked bags. So in this markets the free baggage allowance is being cut in half.

American has cut the baggage allowance for main cabin flights to some destinations

Basic economy coming to Asia & Oceania

American’s basic economy product offering has expanded significantly over the years, including to more markets. American Airlines will be introducing basic economy tickets on flights to Asia, India, Israel, and Oceania (that’s how American describes it, though I recognize that’s somewhat redundant, since India and Israel are both in Asia).

These basic economy tickets won’t be changeable, but they will include one free checked bag. American recently announced the elimination of change fees on everything except basic economy tickets, so the airline is clearly trying to reintroduce some kind of fares to these regions with change fees.

American basic economy is expanding to more regions

Bottom line

American Airlines is making some changes to its checked baggage allowance and basic economy tickets. The baggage changes for premium economy tickets are positive, the baggage changes for economy tickets are negative, and the introduction of basic economy to Asia & Oceania is… well, it depends on how you look at it.

What do you make of these American Airlines changes?

  1. I’m sure AA know what they are doing, but I’m not entirely sure how they think that they will compete with Qantas and Air New Zealand’s offerings to Oceania. I’m sure some will be attracted to the fares basic economy can offer, and some won’t appreciate that there is a difference, but the ‘it’s included’ approach of carriers here will likely win over those who do.

  2. Not much of a change. I wonder how long AA will continue to offer a free checked bag for BE. Seems as though that’s revenue left on the table. I also wonder when travel rebounds if airlines in general will start to re-introduce certain fees.

  3. Dean, I am not sure what you mean. All long haul main cabin tickets already included at least one checked bag. Domestic charges for checked bags remain un-changed by this.

  4. Dean no it doesn’t. That card is for domestic purposes only. They still have to pay for a bag on domestic routes. This is long haul routes to international destinations.

  5. To bad they wont allow these rules to apply to tickets purchased as of January 1, 2021 or for people with upcoming flights. This would make their customers happy as well! It would make me EXTREMELY HAPPY!

  6. Basic Economy in 2021 is the Economy of 2019. At first, the “no change fees” announcements from the carriers seemed like a big win for passengers–but these follow-up announcements make it clear that “normal” economy will just look more and more like the “flexible” economy fares of two years ago.

    The only question then is–what will carriers call the inevitable, even lower fare class of Basic Economy without the free checked bag?

  7. AA is a trash company. Won’t even return people’s money. Who can’t fly do to Covid. Everyone else is helping people out. Not them.

  8. For those of us that fly Basic Economy, I sure wish they’d let us check one bag. Learn from the success of Southwest Airlines.

  9. Massive problem here. I normally fly to Japan about 3x a year (enough to get myself to gold, but not plat) for work and losing a bag places a massive burden on me, especially if bag fees are still in the $100 range for a second bag. They have made a lot of awful decisions in all this, it’s entirely possible that they may be losing our company as a primary means of transit soon.

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