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American Airlines Raises Checked Baggage Fees for Domestic Flights

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American Airlines Raises Checked Baggage Fees for Domestic Flights

American Airlines Increases Checked Bag Fees for Domestic Flights
By: The Washington Post

The cost of flying with a checked bag on American Airlines has just become more expensive. On Tuesday, February 20, the airline announced an increase in fees for checking a suitcase for domestic flights. The original fee of $30 has now been raised to $35 for online payments and $40 for payments made at the airport. For a second suitcase, the fee is now $45, up from $40 previously, regardless of how it is purchased.

These new prices apply to flights booked starting Tuesday in the main cabin, but suitcases in premium cabins remain free. This marks the first increase in checked bag prices from American Airlines since 2018 and follows a trend set by other airlines such as Alaska Airlines, which had previously raised the cost of the first checked bag from $30 to $35.

Other airlines have also changed their pricing policies for checked baggage, with JetBlue and United raising their fees to $35 for bags not paid for more than 24 hours in advance in early 2020. JetBlue now charges $45 for the first bag and $60 for the second within 24 hours of departure, while for those who pay more than a day in advance, the first bag costs $35 and the second costs $50.

Delta currently charges $30 for the first checked bag, while Southwest remains aloof and allows passengers to check two bags for free. However, there is some good news for those traveling with excess luggage on American Airlines, as lightly overweight suitcases will cost less. Instead of the previous $100 charge for overweight baggage weighing between 25 and 26.5 kilograms, this will now cost only $30 more.

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This adjustment to checked baggage fees comes amid widespread scrutiny of so-called “junk fees” charged by airlines, credit card companies, ticket sellers, and others. There is a push for the Biden administration in favor of greater transparency.

Before the introduction of baggage fees in 2008, travelers could fly without paying anything extra for checking a suitcase. The fees first emerged when fuel prices skyrocketed and have now earned airlines an estimated $33.3 billion.

Jay Sorensen, president of consulting firm IdeaWorksCompany, believes that in light of American Airlines’ move, other airlines may seek to get more people to sign up for their credit cards. Most cardholders from various airlines benefit from a free checked bag on domestic flights.

One of the implications of baggage fees is that they often encourage more passengers to carry carry-on luggage, which has become an operational challenge and customer pain point, according to a report from consulting firm IdeaWorksCompany and car rental technology company CarTrawler.

As carry-on baggage and storage pressures continue to be a challenge for airlines, travel industry analysts such as Scott Keyes, founder of cheap flight alert service Going, believe that a shift in baggage fee strategy could be beneficial. Keyes suggests that airlines could consider charging higher fees for carry-on bags and lower prices for checked bags to alleviate the operational challenges.

For passengers who want to avoid checked baggage fees, Keyes also suggests taking carry-on luggage to the gate and waiting to see if the agent asks for volunteers to check bags. He notes that there are often gate agents asking passengers to check their bags to their final destination.

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In the constantly shifting landscape of airline fees, it remains to be seen how passengers and airlines will adapt to the changing baggage fee structures. This fare adjustment announced by American Airlines is just one of many changes in checked baggage fees that have taken place in recent years.

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