American Airlines Raises Checked Bag Fees

In late August JetBlue raised many of their fees, including checked bag fees. Among other changes, they raised the cost of a first checked bag on a domestic itinerary from $25 to $30.

It’s interesting to see JetBlue be the first US airline to raise the cost of a checked bag from the standard $25, given that they’re otherwise not the most aggressive airline with fees. However, since they don’t have basic economy, I guess they figured they’d rather start by increasing fees in this way. Their stock isn’t doing well, so I imagine we’ll see a lot more fees from them in the coming months and years.

While the “big three” (American, Delta, and United) don’t typically follow JetBlue’s lead, I expected that they’d do so in this case. After all, when they’re not leading the race to the bottom, they’re following the race to the bottom.

Just a few days later United announced that they’d be following JetBlue’s lead, and would be raising the cost of checked bags for tickets booked as of August 31, 2018. Then just yesterday Delta announced that they’d match as well.

It was only a matter of time until American joined the club, and that has finally happened.

For tickets issued as of September 21, 2018, American is raising the cost of the first checked bag to $30, and the cost of the second checked bag to $40, which is up from $25 and $35, respectively. These new fees apply for tickets wholly within the US (including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands), as well as flights between the US and Canada.

On the plus side, I commend American for at least putting out a press release about the changes, and for only instituting the new fees starting tomorrow, unlike Delta, which made the change effective immediately without any sort of an announcement.

American notes that this is the first time they’ve raised checked bag fees since 2010.

Boy, there’s so much innovation in the US airline industry… 😉

Comments

  1. I am still quite surprised though that Jetblue started this chain of events. You’d think that it would have been either United or AA.

  2. WHAT? That is shocking….not. Like price fixing or copycatting. Not sure which is worse. It’s actually the perfect fee to increase. Most loyal and CC holders don’t pay it much of the time so they won’t complain much. Too bad the press will lack onto this and the Southwest loyal will continue to feel they are flying a “LCC” 🙂

  3. Since I have only taken paid first for domestic, I always have an allowance of several checked bags included. I pity those in the back, but American hasn’t changed baggage fees since 2010 and needs to make money for me as an AAL shareholder.

  4. Rising fuel prices have to be offset somehow. I much prefer this move to increase the top-line revenue to fuel surcharges which hit the 1/year travelers a bit but take a big bite out of the airlines’ bread and butter business travelers.

  5. Brad did you read the article? AA i not following Delta. Delta gave no notice before raising prices. AA is giving notice. And Delta is following Jetblue and United. Delta is no leader at all.

  6. Could I ask a question? And I mean this sincerely…why do airlines charge for bags at all?

    If you think about it, what is the luxury? Being able to stand in a long line when you arrive at the airport to check a max 50 pound bag only to have to take the chance that it gets lost AND then waste 30 minutes at a claim waiting for it to arrive? Or avoiding ALL of that and getting out of the airport upon arrival as soon as you can/like?

    What makes boarding a plane horrible (for those of us lowly mortals in economy) is watching someone trying to stuff an overflowing, “how did that get past the gate agents?”-suitcase into an overhead already filled with jackets, purses, and slim briefcases. Slowing down the boarding process for EVERYONE (except our betters in J and F) and dumbing down humanity one carry-on at a time (OCOAAT!).

    It would seem to me that airlines have had it backasswards all along. They could still put restrictions on weight and pieces of luggage. They could still charge for the 2nd bag. They could make carry-ons free for you J and F’ers only! But it would seem to me that a logical business model would make passengers pay premium for the “luxury” of having your bag with you at all times and not having to wait for it.

    Paying 30 dollars for the experience of checking luggage is insult to injury.

  7. Dandy—airlines are pricing to match costs incurred. Cost to load/unload a carryon = $0 cost to load/unload a checked bag > $0

  8. @Dandy-
    In a nutshell, the reason they charge for it is because they can. Someone going on a holiday, spending (say) $400 on airfare and another $2000 (at a minimum) on hotels, dining and shopping, will ultimately may an extra $30.
    The other reason is their ability to compete better by presenting a lower cost at the beginning of the booking process just to have add-ons added to it later.
    Basically, the price reflects market conditions, like competition, supply and demand. It does not represent actual airline costs.

  9. Double the price of tickets
    Add fuel surcharges
    Keep increasing fees we have no other choices
    American is always the leader never the follower

  10. Dandy – Your logic does work. Frontier charges for both checked and carry-on bags, but charges MORE for the ability to carry-on. The result? Empty overhead bins and less people wasting time trying to stuff oversized bags into undersized bins.

  11. I agree with TravelinDandy and John Bucher. Seems to me that most of these airlines have it backwards. There should be a charge for all OVERHEAD baggage and NO CHARGE for cargo hold luggage. That would easily speed up boarding and exiting the plane. I’m all for keeping baggage handlers employed. It’s good for the economy. I’m sure there are many passengers willing to pay a little extra for the convenience of overhead storage space and avoiding the dreaded baggage carousel at all costs.

  12. Just a thought regarding bag fees: Why the ambiguity with the credit card free checked bag? It says its only for “domestic” operated flights. They seem to include flights to Canada with this (which I’m not complaining about), but not a 30 minute flight to the Caribbean or to Mexico. What makes Canada more “domestic” than Mexico?

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