American Airlines Raises Bag Fees, Will Ban Some Booking Sites from Points Eligibility

This news post was updated with new information after its original publication.

It’s almost as if the corporations dominating our lives are determined to make back whatever they missed during the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The cost of living is spiraling upward in multiple areas of Americans’ lives, but that didn’t stop American Airlines from piling on the misery by springing another fee hike on consumers.

Travelers awoke on February 20, 2024, to discover they will now pay $40 to check a single bag on American Airlines, with a $5 discount for reserving ahead online. The price for a second checked bag jumped to $45.

The change constitutes a $5-per-bag hike; the fee was previously $30 for the first bag and $40 for a second.

The fee covers flights within the domestic United States, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

For flights to and from Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and Guyana, the first bag on American Airlines is now $35 and the second costs $45, no matter when or where the fee is paid.

According to CNBC, the last time American Airlines hiked bag fees was in September 2018.

While the price of checking a bag jumped by nearly 15%, the penalty for overweight baggage on American Airlines was reduced. Instead of paying a fee of $100 on checked bags that are as much as 3 pounds over a 50 pound limit, passengers will now pay an extra $30.

But that’s not all. In an effort to force more customers to book through the American Airlines website instead of a third party, the airline announced that tickets purchased through some travel agencies will no longer be eligible to accrue AAdvantage frequent flyer points. 

The restrictions will begin on May 1, 2024.

American Airlines announced that as of that date, earning miles and loyalty points will only be available through its own website, through its partner airlines, or through “preferred travel agencies.”

That’s a move that could directly affect which platforms customers decide to use to book their airfare, but American Airlines has not yet given an indication of which websites will be excluded from points availability. American’s announcement said the list of “preferred” third-party ticket sellers that will still be eligible for miles accrual will be released in late April.

If history is any guide, expect rival U.S. carriers to match American with similar bag fee hikes soon. Although the big airlines swear they don’t collude on these things, they sure seem to move in lockstep when they happen.

But if more airlines also start blocking some booking engines from selling tickets that count toward frequent flyer status, the process of ticket buying may soon be reshaped for millions of travelers. 

Update, May 29, 2024: After a backlash, American Airlines reversed a portion of its original announcement and said it will not restrict the earning of miles for tickets purchased from third parties. 


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