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American Airlines increases bag fees

The fees are now $35 or $40 for the first bag, depending on whether you pay online or at the airport.
American Airlines increases bag fees
Posted at 12:47 PM, Feb 20, 2024

American Airlines announced on Tuesday the company is increasing baggage fees. The major airline is the latest to hike its prices for checked bags.    

American Airlines will now charge $35 for checked baggage online, an increase from $30. Checked bags at the airport will now cost $40, also up from $30. These are the first baggage increases for the major airline since 2018.  

The Department of Transportation tracks bag-fee revenue. The most recent report from 2022 shows that American Airlines made $1.4 billion in bag fees for the year, more than any other domestic airline.  

After announcing the new baggage fees, the company also announced savings on the horizon, as customers who travel on or after April 17 could see lower fees for oversized and overweight items. The airline stated that the move would result in savings of up to $350 for some customers. 

JetBlue quietly increased baggage fees this month. The New York City-based airline is now charging travelers $35 for a first checked bag if added online at least 24 hours prior to the flight, and $50 for a second checked bag. The price for a checked bag 24 hours before departure will now run customers $45 for the first bag, and $60 for a second bag. JetBlue released a statement to Scripps News: “The cost of doing business has gone up significantly due to increased wages, higher fuel costs, and other inflationary pressure, and we remain unprofitable since COVID. While we don’t like increasing fees, it’s one step we are taking to get our company back to profitability and cover the increased costs of transporting bags.”   

In January, Alaska Airlines announced a baggage fee markup. The first checked-bag fee increased from $30 to $35, and the second checked-bag increased from $40 to $45. The last time the airline increased baggage fees was five years ago. In a statement, a spokesperson for Alaska Airlines said the company is navigating a rise in operating costs and high fuel prices.  

Southwest is among the most cost-effective airlines for travelers. The airline lets travelers check in two suitcases for free.    

Sally French, a travel expert with NerdWallet, said more airlines are taking an "unbundling" approach, offering additional services a la carte. French advises travelers to carefully read the fine print before purchasing a flight to understand any additional fees, but adds that people shouldn’t get bogged down by the new fees given the bigger picture.   

“NerdWallet found that airfares are down at 6.4% year over year; that's based on January data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and if you look at the price of airfare over the past 10 years, airfares are down about 15%,” French said.   

An oil shock in 2007 and 2008 sent fuel prices soaring, and airlines began creating baggage fees to offset costs. According to a recent report, global bag fee revenue in 2023 rose to $33.3 billion, a 14% increase from 2022. Baggage fees make up 4% of airline revenues, according to IdeaWorksCompany.  

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