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article imageAmerican Airlines Starts Charging $15 For First Checked Bag In Just Over Two Weeks

By Nikki Weingartner     May 30, 2008 in Travel
In an effort to combat out of control fuel costs, American Airlines announced that it would begin charging passengers $15 US dollars to check their first piece of luggage per way, along with other fees. The second piece will cost $25 US dollars.
As if air travelers didn't already have enough to deal with, the recent announcement made by American Airlines that they will begin charging passengers to check their luggage adds more problems to the travel mix. The new charge takes effect June 15, 2008.
As the nation's largest carrier, American's move to begin charging customers who purchase economy class tickets a "checked baggage fee" is being viewed a move that some expect other major carriers to follow.
Joe Brancatelli, a publisher for a travel newsletter, expected the move to elicit "absolute chaos at ticket counters around the nation. Unlike the second-bag fee, which affected a small number of travelers, a huge percentage of travelers check one bag." And rightly so, if other airlines follow suit and are forced to pay a fee, the vast majority of customers, who travel with one checked piece, will not longer be able to take advantage of curbside checking.
American is also raising its other fees associated with reservation assistance to oversized baggage, some ranging up to $50 USD per service.
Alaska and Delta Airlines announced they they do not plan on matching American's move, however, United Airlines is considering the fee per checked piece. Most airlines recently implemented a $25 fee for checking a second piece of luggage.
Southwest Airlines does not implement either fee.
The extra per bag fee is likely due to the financial struggles the Airlines is seeing due to recent fuel costs:
American plans to cut domestic flight capacity by 11 percent to 12 percent in the fourth quarter. American had previously expected fourth-quarter capacity to fall 4.6 percent from the same period in 2007.
Parent AMR Corp. said reduced flying will lead to an undisclosed number of job cuts at both American and its American Eagle subsidiary.
They are also expected to retire around 50 planes from its fleet due to fuel costs as well.
As far as the baggage, Brantcatelli believes that this has the potential to jam up security areas because travelers will end up traveling light, utilizing larger carry-ons in lieu of checked luggage.
A very interesting move for the airline industry, as increasing fees to a decreasing customer base may serve counter productive. What next? Human weight limits or per pound ticket costs?
More about American airlines, Fee, Checked luggage
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