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American Airlines Increases Bag Fees and Alters Frequent-Flyer Points System
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By Associated Press
Published 2 months ago on
February 21, 2024

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American Airlines raises bag fees for domestic and short international flights.

Changes to frequent-flyer points system to encourage direct ticket purchases.

Graduated fees introduced for slightly overweight or oversized bags.


DALLAS — American Airlines is increasing the cost of checking bags and introducing other changes to encourage customers to purchase tickets directly from the airline if they wish to earn frequent-flyer points.

The airline announced on Tuesday that the fee for checking a bag on a domestic flight will increase from $30 to $35 online and $40 if purchased at the airport. The fee for a second checked bag will rise from $40 to $45, applicable both online and at the airport.

Bag fees were last raised by American in 2018.

Based in Fort Worth, Texas, American introduced bag fees in 2008 — $15 at the time — to deal with the escalating cost of jet fuel. Since then, they have become a consistent revenue source for most major U.S. carriers. In 2022, American led the industry by raising $1.4 billion in bag fees, according to the latest U.S. Transportation Department figures.

Changes in Bag Fees for Short International Flights

The airline is also increasing bag fees by $5 for short international flights, including those to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean — now $35 for the first bag and $45 for the second.

Generally, the airline will allow customers to check at least one bag free of charge if they hold elite status in American’s loyalty program, purchase a premium-class ticket, or use an American-branded credit card.

American will offer a concession to customers whose bags are slightly overweight or oversized. Instead of being charged the full extra fee — ranging from $100 to $650 — graduated fees will start at $30 for bags that are no more than 3 pounds (1.36 kg) or three linear inches over the limits.

The cost of transferring points between frequent-flyer accounts is also being reduced.

Changes in Earning Points in AAdvantage Loyalty Program

Simultaneously, American announced that starting with tickets issued on May 1, customers will need to buy tickets directly from the airline or its partner carriers or from preferred online travel agencies if they want to earn points in its AAdvantage loyalty program. The airline said it will list the preferred travel agencies in late April. Corporate travelers won’t be affected.

About 60% of American’s ticket sales are already made directly through the airline, according to Scott Chandler, vice president of revenue management.

The changes are part of a long shift by airlines away from using travel agents — and paying them commissions — and bringing ticket sales in-house.

“The old way of booking a ticket relied on agents having a ton of experience and understanding product attributes,” Chandler said in an interview. “The old technology doesn’t let us explain things very well, and it is a little more confusing for customers when we introduce new products.”

Chandler likened it to the way that Amazon.com explains features that it sells on the site.

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