By: Revanche

American’s charging for the FIRST checked bag

May 21, 2008

This is a bit more outrageous than the skyrocketing ticket prices, and the charge for an additional checked bag: American Airlines plans to start charging $15 for the first checked bag on June 15th. The free preview blurb on WSJ states that the fee applies to “some fliers” but as I can’t read the whole article, I don’t know which statement is more accurate. Now, I can understand limiting the additional checked bag: reducing that much extra weight, or receiving some compensation for it to offset the costs of gas makes sense. They’ve got to be able to do business, after all.

But, charging for the first checked bag? What’s next, carry-ons? They should understand that their cost-cutting measures will soon reach the point of diminishing returns. In an informal poll, more than half of the poll takers indicate they’d rather stop checking bags than pay the fee. And in a lot of cases, that’d be my reaction. But for long distance flights where not checking a bag isn’t an option? I just won’t even fly American. And if they start losing passengers, if they’re flying more seats than people because it’s not worth it to pay an extra $40 ($15 for the first, $25 for the second) for checking two bags, that rather defeats the purpose of cutting costs and increasing revenue, doesn’t it?

Perhaps my reaction is a little extreme. After all, if the ticket prices are low enough to stay competitive, even taking the checked bag fee into consideration, perhaps this isn’t a bad move on American’s part. It is in line with the trend towards a la carte services that most airlines have taken with food and other amenities.

What do you think? Will you continue to fly this airline, and if so, would you pay to check your bags or will you become a super-carry-on packer?

6 Responses to “American’s charging for the FIRST checked bag”

  1. Hedy says:

    I’d most likely avoid American, unless fare+fee was competitive.

  2. mOOm says:

    It’s “debundling” and potentially lower costs/more choice for those who want lower services. The airline probably thinks that charging the fee will make some people think twice about packing extra stuff which will cut baggage handling and fuel costs and that people will no know/forget about this fee when comparing prices with other airlines online or wherever.

  3. Karen says:

    I don’t like to fly American as it is. But there’s even less incentive due to the liquids’ restriction. Mousse is the only reason I check a bag!
    A few airlines already operate this way: Ryan Air, Spirit Air, Skybus did. So, I’m not sure that they’ll lose passengers. People want the cheapest deal. And they’ll get what they pay for. $15 to check a bag? Then they’ll have to take less with them because the TSA allows one carry on and one personal item. Now, the airline has generated extra income from checked baggage and for those who forgo checking, saved fuel costs with less baggage weight on the aircraft along with potentially less bags that the baggage handlers have to transport between aircrafts.

  4. ~hedy~ Honestly, I don’t like American’s service anyway. I am miffed that I may have to be paying that when I redeem my award ticket with them for a trip to NY, though.

    ~moom~ Ah yes, we want the cable companies to debundle, and the airlines do it instead. I’m sure they’re right, and people will stop taking the fee into account when booking their flights.

    ~karen~ 🙂 I’m glad I’ve stopped using mousse. I suppose they win, either way. Again, though, I’ve been pretty unhappy with their service before, so I’ll be happy to use my award ticket and be done with them.

  5. Karen says:

    I wish I had a substitute for mousse–other than messier hair! 🙂

    I prefer Delta and Southwest only since they fly direct to my family.

    Are you flying to NY before June 15? That’s when it starts.

  6. ~karen~ Have to admit, I’ve gone with messy hair instead of using mousse before. Don’t they make travel sizes of mousse? I think that would conform to the requirements, right?

    My preference has run to Southwest and occasionally United, but I’ve got this award ticket thing ….

    I’m pretty sure that it won’t be before June 15th, I’ve never had such a difficult time redeeming award miles before!

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