American Airlines, faced with increasing fuel costs and decreasing profit margins, announced yesterday [May 21, 2008] that they would implement a $15 fee for the first checked bag. Additionally, they announced a reduction of domestic flights by 11-12% and cutting thousands of jobs.
Most big carriers recently implemented a $25 charge on the second bag checked by coach customers, but American is the U.S. pioneer on charging for the first bag. The fee will be charged to everyone except people who belong to elite levels of its frequent flier program, those who bought full-fare tickets and those traveling overseas.
The check baggage fee will likely cause an increase in headaches for passengers, both financially, as well as travel-wise. Especially during the summer travel season, lines at the check baggage counter are expected to increase. Additionally, as people try to get more, larger bags in the cabin, delays are expected to increase in takeoff times.
Below is a list of other fees affected by this announcement:
- $150 to change a domestic ticket, and from $150-300 for an international ticket
- Frequent flyer awards will now cost from $100 to $150.
- Booking by phone or through the frequent flyer program went from $15 to $20.
- Using a travel agent, including online agencies like Travelocity went from $15 to $20 and buying a ticket at the airport from $20 to $30.
- Taking a pet along in the cabin went from $80 to $100 each way on domestic, Mexico, Canada and Caribbean flights while travelling in cargo went from $100 to $150 each way.
- Unaccompanied minors went from $75 to $100 each way.
- Oversized bags will now cost $150 each way, up from $100.
- Reinstating FF miles for unused flights will now cost $150
All fees increases went into effect yesterday on tickets sold after the announcement except the baggage charge which takes effect on or after June 15 so any ticket purchased before that date the charge will not apply. The charge does not apply to international flights except to Mexico, Canada, and Caribbean flights.