American Airlines Is Raising Baggage Fees (And Some Other Airlines Probably Will Too)

NEWS & TRENDING - CREDIT CARD NEWS
Another airline adds its name to the growing trend of increasing fees.
Updated May 8, 2024
Fact checked
passengers luggage suitcase

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

American Airlines recently announced an increase in baggage fees, marking the first hike in over five years. This news has sparked concerns among travelers about the impact on their travel expenses. In this article, we'll delve into the details of American Airlines' baggage fee changes, explore the reasons behind the fee hike, and provide savvy strategies for avoiding these additional costs.

If you’re over 50, take advantage of massive travel discounts and trip-planning resources

Over 50 and love traveling? Join AARP today — because if you’re not a member, you could be missing out on huge travel perks. When you start your membership today, you can get discounts on hotels and resorts, airfare, cruises, car rentals, and more.

How to become a member today:

  • Go here, select your free gift, and click “Join Today”
  • Create your account (important!) by answering a few simple questions
  • Start enjoying your discounts and perks!

An AARP membership not only unlocks discounts that could save you hundreds on your next trip, but you’ll also have access to deals on vacation packages, guided tours, and exclusive content to help plan your next getaway.

Important: Start your membership by creating an account here and filling in all of the information (do not skip this step!). Doing so will allow you to take up to 25% off your AARP membership, making it just $12 per year with auto-renewal.

Become an AARP member now

How much fees are increasing

None

Under the new policy, travelers with American Airlines will face higher fees for checking their bags. The fee for the first checked bag has risen to $35 when purchased online and $40 if bought at the airport, up from the previous $30. Similarly, the cost for a second checked bag has increased to $45, regardless of whether it's purchased online or at the airport. Additionally, fees for checked bags on flights to Canada and short-haul international destinations have also seen a $5 increase.

Why are fees going up?

Carlos Duarte Stock/Adobe woman standing in airplane storing suitcase in airplane cabin

The decision to raise baggage fees aligns with a broader trend across the airline industry. American Airlines is not alone in implementing such changes, as several other carriers have also adjusted their fee structures in recent years. Alaska Airlines and JetBlue have also increased their baggage fees this year.

The rationale behind these fee increases stems from airlines' efforts to boost revenue amid fluctuating market conditions and evolving consumer behaviors. Airlines have been capitalizing on higher inflation this past year to justify the need to increase their prices. Factors such as rising operating costs, economic uncertainties, and the need to remain competitive in the market contribute to the upward trajectory of baggage fees.

Ways to avoid paying baggage fees

Daisy Daisy/Adobe woman measuring suitcase before holiday

Despite the fee hike, there are several strategies travelers can employ to mitigate or entirely avoid paying baggage fees on American Airlines:

  • Utilize your carry-on allowance. Take advantage of American Airlines' complimentary carry-on allowance, which permits one personal item and one carry-on bag per passenger. By packing strategically and adhering to size and weight restrictions, travelers can bypass checked bag fees altogether.
  • Join loyalty programs. Enroll in American Airlines' loyalty program, AAdvantage, or explore other airline loyalty programs to accrue miles and enjoy benefits such as waived baggage fees for elite members. Earn miles through eligible flights, credit card purchases, and partner promotions to unlock perks that offset baggage costs.
  • Upgrade your ticket class. Consider upgrading to a premium ticket class, such as Premium Economy, Business Class, or First Class, where complimentary checked baggage allowances are typically included. While premium fares may entail higher upfront costs, the value derived from waived baggage fees and enhanced travel amenities can outweigh the expense for frequent flyers or those with specific travel preferences.
  • Explore credit card benefits. Many top travel rewards credit cards offer perks that can help offset baggage fees, such as annual travel credits, complimentary checked bags, or accelerated mileage earnings. Research and compare credit card options to identify products that align with your travel habits and financial goals. By leveraging credit card benefits strategically, travelers can minimize the impact of baggage fees on their overall travel expenses.

Bottom line

JenkoAtaman/Adobe young woman goes at airport

American Airlines' decision to raise baggage fees underscores the evolving landscape of airline pricing strategies and the importance of proactive travel planning. While the fee hike may present challenges for budget-conscious travelers, there are viable alternatives and cost-saving measures available to navigate these changes effectively. By optimizing carry-on allowances, earning travel rewards, considering ticket upgrades, and exploring credit card benefits, travelers can travel smarter, minimize expenses, and maximize their overall travel experience. As the travel industry continues to evolve, staying informed and adaptable remains key to making informed decisions and enjoying seamless travel experiences.

Easy-to-Earn Unlimited Rewards

Benefits

Card Details

  • Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases
  • Longer intro APR on qualifying purchases and balance transfers
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Apply Now
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire as long as your account remains open.
  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions.
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the Intro APR offer ends, a Variable APR that’s currently 19.24% - 29.24% will apply. A 3% Intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open. After the Intro balance transfer fee offer ends, the fee for future balance transfers is 4%.
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means instead of earning an unlimited 1.5 points for every $1, you could earn 1.87-2.62 points for every $1 you spend on purchases.
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
Bank of <span class='whitespace-nowrap'>America<sup>®</sup></span> Travel Rewards credit card
4.1
Apply Now

on Bank of America’s secure website

Read Card Review

Intro Offer

Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases

Annual Fee

$0

+

Why we like it

Author Details

Georgina Tzanetos Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who has been active in financial media for the past six years. She holds a master's in political economy from NYU, where she studied distressed labor markets.