American Airlines Increases Checked Bag Fees

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Travelers flying on American Airlines will be required to pay a few dollars more per checked bag depending on where they are flying to.

In a somewhat surprise announcement published on February 20, customers who purchased tickets from February 20, 2024 going forward, can expect to pay more for checked bags. The changes impact domestic operations, as well as flights to the Caribbean, Canada, Central American and two countries in South America.

Those traveling with one checked item on domestic flights are hit the hardest, as they will see a $10 (plus tax) increase if they pay for their bag at the airport. Passengers can shave off $5 if they prepay for their bag via American’s website instead of paying at the airport.

All other affected routes will see a $5 increase for the first checked bag. Those flying with a 2nd checked bag will also have to fork up another $5 as highlighted in the table below. I have purposely excluded fees for bags 3, 4 and beyond as those rates remain unaffected.

Travelers flying to Panama, most parts of South America, or on transatlantic or transpacific flights will continue to pay the same rates as before, but don’t be surprised if the airline revises these rates at a later time.

Respective exemption still remain in effect for the following passengers:

  • flying in domestic first class or business class
  • with AAdvantage (or equivalent oneworld) status
  • with select American Airlines-branded credit cards
RegionBag 1 (old fee)Bag 1 (new fee)Bag 2 (Old fee)Bag 2 (new fee)
U.S. (including HI / AK), Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands$30$35 (online)
$40 (airport)
$40$45
Canada and Mexico$30$35$40$45
Haiti$0 / $30$0 / $35$65$65
Caribbean (except Cuba and Haiti)$30$35$40$45
Central America (except Panama)$30$35$40 / $65$45 / $65
Guyana and Suriname$30$35$40$45
Panama / Colombia / Ecuador / Peru$0 / $45$0 / $45$100$100
South America (except Colombia,
Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Suriname)
$0 / $60$0 / $60$100$100
Transatlantic$0 / $75$0 / $75$100$100
Transpacific$0 / $75$0 / $75$100$100

This is just a summary of changes, and travelers should visit American’s baggage page for more information about these changes and exceptions.

This latest change represents American’s first checked baggage fee increase since 2018. It won’t be surprisingly to see other airlines within the U.S. market following suit. Delta for instance still charges $30 for their first checked bag on domestic routes, while United charges $30 for those paying online, and $35 if you pay at the airport. Will the others follow in American’s lead or will they hold their ground and use these cheaper baggage fees to their advantage?

As it stands, airlines already make a pretty penny from baggage fees. A study conducted by ancillary revenue specialists IdeaWorks revealed that airlines made over $33 billion on baggage fees alone in 2023, a slight bump over the $32.9 billion made in 2019. If checked bags are a concern, it might be a good time to look into building status with the airline, or getting an American-branded credit card.

[Featured Photo: American Airlines ]

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