Get Ready for These New Baggage Fees From American Airlines

By: Beth Moreton | Last updated: Feb 28, 2024

As people are experiencing sticker shock in many areas of the economy, American Airlines is adding one more price increase to that house of cards: extra baggage fees.

Not only will customers feel strained by these latest fees, but the price someone is paying for airfare now still feels higher than pre-COVID levels. These fees may be the breaking point for some American Airlines customers to venture out to other airline companies.

Why Do Airlines Charge Baggage Fees?

Like many things in life, the way airlines charge their customers is not as straightforward as simply buying a ticket. Airlines are invested in charging their customers for several things to get the most profit. 

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A plane with the American Airlines logo.

Source: Aero Pixels/Wikimedia

According to a recent study by IdeaWorks, airlines were able to earn $117.9 billion worldwide from ancillary revenue. This revenue includes things like onboard sales, baggage charges, seat selections, and loyalty programs.

Baggage Fees Represent a Large Portion of Ancillary Airline Income

Airline baggage fees are a big money maker for airlines. Passengers often stuff their bags when they go on airplane trips, hoping to bring as much as possible.

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A baggage claim area in Owensboro Regional airport.

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Airlines take advantage of this by charging for overweight bags and checked luggage. The justification that airlines use to charge customers an extra fee is that heavier bags and large carry-on items increase the cost of fuel for the airplane.

Baggage Fees Total $33 Billion

In 2023, airline baggage fees went up by 15% to $33 billion, compared to the $29 billion they were in 2022, according to Forbes.

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Some baggage trucks at an airport. A person is driving one of the trucks, which are white and red. The trucks are on the runway.

Source: Goh Rhy Yan/Unsplash

This even exceeds the baggage fees in 2019, pre-COVID, which were at $32.9 billion.

American Airlines Baggage Fees Are $35

According to the American Airlines website, passengers traveling within and between the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands will pay $40 for their first checked bag.

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Two airport workers putting luggage on a plane. They are getting the luggage out of a truck and putting it onto a belt that puts the luggage on the plane. The workers are wearing orange hi-vis jackets.

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However, this goes down to $35 if paid online. The second checked bag will cost $45. The same applies if traveling either to or from Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and Guyana.

American Airlines Made These Changes Overnight

Not only is American Airlines facing backlash over the rise in prices, but this is also because the changes are going into effect overnight.

An American Airlines plane preparing to take off. It is on the runway and there is a building behind

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According to SFGate, any tickets purchased from Feb. 20, 2024, will have to pay the added charges. Those who purchased tickets before then will pay the previous prices.

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Airlines Have Ways Around the Baggage Fees

While baggage fees are becoming more expensive, airlines have ways to try and keep the cost down to ensure customers remain loyal to them.

Basic economy on a plane. The plane is quite dark and there are a lot of seats. The seats have screens on the back of them and some people are watching shows on them.

Source: Alev Takil/Unsplash

Some airlines offer basic economy tickets to keep the price of flying lower for passengers. However, it does come with baggage restrictions, such as only being able to take on one item.

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American Airlines Has Offered Customers Another Option

Aware of the fact they would receive backlash for the rise in prices, American Airlines has offered customers a solution to the price hike.

Check-in at an airport. This is for Swiss Airlines and the check-in is empty.

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The airline has said that to avoid baggage fees, customers can sign up to its AAdvantage co-branded credit card, which includes many perks, including at least one checked bag for free.

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There Are Weight Restrictions for Carry-On Bags

The rising cost of baggage does mean that whilst people are still willing to fly, they are putting all of their items into their carry-on bags.

A man carrying a small suitcase up some steps. He is wearing a striped top and is wearing a camera around his neck.

Source: Timur Weber/Pexels

Whilst this might be all right if they were only going for a day or two, many passengers’ carry-on bags weigh significantly more than if they were to just pack a normal amount.

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Heavy Carry-On Bags Come with Serious Repercussions

Some people might think they’re able to cut costs by only taking a carry-on, however, doing so means more risks.

A person walking through an airport and pushing their carry-on luggage around.

Source: David Lago Rodríguez/Pexels

Weight restrictions can be enforced on carry-on luggage, as well as limiting the number of items passengers can take onboard. More seriously, however, it can lead to operational issues on the plane, such as lack of visibility on the aircraft weight balance for safe operations.

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One Airline Got Backlash for Weighing Passengers

Recently, Finnair was at the center of some backlash when it was revealed that they had been weighing passengers before a flight, according to Forbes.

An outside image of an airport. There are some taxis parked up outside it and some people walking towards the airport.

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However, this is becoming a necessity as passengers are no longer checking as many bags as they once used to in preference for carry-ons, especially as luggage is weighed but carry-ons aren’t.

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Some Airlines Offer Free Checked Baggage

To get around the issue of passengers preferring carry-ons to checked baggage, some airlines are now offering free checked baggage to encourage passengers to keep carry-ons to a minimum.

Some planes lined up on an airport runway. They are all waiting for passengers to get on board

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These airlines include Air China, Cathay Pacific, Korean Air, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, and Southwest Airlines.

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American Airlines Has Lowered Some Costs

Although it might have hiked its baggage prices up, American Airlines has lowered some of its other baggage prices.

A black silhouette of a plane going up in the air. The sun is setting and there is some building work going on down below.

Source: Clay Banks/Unsplash

Those who often exceed the weight limit will find that bags exceeding 50 pounds by up to 3 pounds will now be charged $30, which is down from $100. So while the main baggage charges have gone up, hopefully, passengers will see these prices go down soon enough.

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