Airlines Are Charging You More For Baggage Fees

By: Kaydee Ambas · February 28, 2024 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

Baggage Bump

Airlines are charging more and more for checked bags, and these fees really add to the cost of a trip.

American Airlines (AAL) recently increased its checked bag fees, marking the first such increase in over five years. This change aligns with the two-tiered fee structure already adopted by other airlines like United (UAL), JetBlue (JBLU), and several carriers. The new fees for American Airlines customers traveling in coach now stand at $35 for the first checked bag and $40 for the second bag on domestic flights. These fees apply when the service is booked online in advance, while purchasing the option at the airport incurs a slightly higher charge of $40 for the first bag. Previously, American Airlines charged a flat fee of $30 for either service.

There are exemptions to these fees for certain passengers. Customers who hold specific airline or other rewards credit cards, those traveling in a top-tier class, or those with elite frequent flyer status can generally check at least one bag free of charge on domestic or short international flights.

Ascending Expenses

Airlines are raising baggage fees for a number of reasons, but one of the main reasons is that baggage fees are a big moneymaker for airlines. In the first 3 quarters of 2023, U.S. airlines collected $5.5 billion in baggage fees — up 25% from the same period pre-pandemic.

Another reason why airlines are raising baggage fees is because the cost of fuel has increased. Fuel is a major expense for airlines, and when the price of fuel goes up, airlines find ways to make up for the increased cost. Raising baggage fees is one way that airlines can do this.

It’s important to note that not all airlines are raising baggage fees. Some airlines, such as Southwest Airlines (LUV), don’t charge baggage fees at all.

How to Avoid Baggage Fees

To avoid the additional costs associated with baggage fees, it’s advisable to pack efficiently and bring only carry-on luggage whenever possible. If checking a bag is unavoidable, make sure it complies with the airline’s weight and size restrictions. Many airlines allow passengers to purchase a checked baggage allowance in advance, which can be more cost-effective than paying at the airport. Additionally, consider selecting airlines that offer free or discounted baggage fees. Some airlines may provide these benefits to members of their loyalty programs or those flying in certain classes.

By carefully planning and choosing the right airline, you can minimize or even cut baggage fees, making air travel more affordable.

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