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

Another airline adds its name to the growing trend of increasing fees.
Updated May 8, 2024
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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.

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How much fees are increasing


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.

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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.