American Airlines Angers Passengers with New $75 Checked Baggage Fees
The airline is eliminating free checked baggage on basic economy international flights and flyers aren't having it.
Booking international airfare with American Airlines is about to get a lot pricier, especially for families who travel with several pieces of checked luggage. The Dallas/Fort Worth-based airline announced that as of June 2023, all basic economy ticket holders on a transoceanic flight will now be charged $75 for their first checked bag. Longtime AA travelers are blindsided by the news, because up until now, passengers flying internationally with a basic economy ticket were allowed one free checked bag. American claims that the $75 bag fee—which is effective immediately—will make the price of their checked bag options less confusing.
"We are simplifying our product offerings to make it easier for customers when they are shopping for travel. With this change, our Basic Economy product will include all of the same features whether a customer is purchasing it for a domestic or international flight," American Airlines spokesperson Andrea Koos, said in a statement obtained by USA Today.
In other words, no matter your destination, whether it's Des Moines or Paris, all travelers sitting in basic economy will be charged the same rate for a checked bag.
It goes without saying that American customers aren't happy about the new bag policy update.
"Welp, looks like I won't be flying American Airlines anymore since they're now like Spirit and charging for even a single checked bag. What a way to downgrade what was once a marquee airline…," one person tweeted.
Another traveler noted that they would rather see the $75 increase reflected in ticket prices than baggage fees. "Really, @AmericanAir ?! A $75 fee for a checked bag, for transoceanic flights? Like I'm gonna head to Germany or Ireland w/ just a carry on, at my age…. May be less frustrating or embarrassing, if you just raise the ticket price the $75."
Sandra McLemore, a travel industry expert, says the new $75 bag fee makes American look "so silly."
"The reason American says they're doing this is—get this—to avoid confusion between domestic travel and international travel. Last time I checked, nobody was confused as to whether or not they were heading to Alabama, New York, or Miami and getting that confused with leaving the country," McLemore said during an appearance on News Nation.
She explained that what American is trying to do is "use this as an excuse that 'if we charge fees for domestic, then we should also charge [travelers] for international so everyone knows that we always charge fees.'"
McLemore also pointed out that the fees don't stop after the first checked bag. If you need to check a second bag, that will cost you $100. A second and third checked bag will cost you an additional $200 each. Taking things like car seats and strollers into consideration, the upcharge will seemingly hit families the hardest.
Travelers also aren't turning a blind eye to the fact that American's new bag policy conveniently comes at the height of travel season. "It's a really silly move and a really silly reason," McLemore says.
United Airlines and Delta Air Lines are currently the only two U.S.-based airlines that still offer basic economy ticket holders a free first-checked bag on transpacific flights.