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American Airlines raises baggage fees, changes frequent flyer points policy

An American Airlines plane. (Dreamstime/TNS)

American Airlines is raising fees for bags checked on domestic and some short international flights and it is updating the way customers can earn frequent flyer points, the airline said Tuesday.

The cost to check a bag on flights to domestic destinations is now $35 (up from $30) for those who pay the fee online, or $40 for those who pay at the airport.

Checking a second bag will now cost $45 (up from $40) whether customers pay the fee online or at the airport.

The new bag fees for short-haul international flights, including those to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, are also increasing by $5. Travelers will now pay $35 to check one bag and $45 to check a second bag — whether they pay online or at the airport.

The Forth Worth, Texas-based airline first introduced bag check fees in 2008 as a way to make up for the rising cost of jet fuel.

Luggage fees have since turned into a significant source of revenue for most U.S. airlines. According to the most recent data released by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, carriers made $6.8 billion on such fees in 2022.

Customers who purchase premium cabin seats, as well as active-duty U.S. military personnel, receive complimentary bag checks on all American flights.

Travelers with American-branded credit cards or those who hold elite status in the airline’s loyalty program also get their first eligible checked bag free on domestic itineraries.

The last time American raised its bag fees was in 2018, the company said in a news release, adding it’s also giving a break to travelers carrying slightly oversized and overweight luggage.

“American is introducing the lowest fee ever for checked items that are only a few pounds heavier or a few inches larger than a standard bag,” the company said.

Starting on April 17, instead of paying the full extra bag fee for all items that go over the maximum weight or size, travelers will pay $30 for bags that are no more than 3 pounds or three inches over the limits.

In a push to get customers to purchase tickets directly from the airline, travelers will soon only earn points in its AAdvantage loyalty program if they buy their tickets through the airline, its partner carriers, or from preferred online travel agencies.

The company said it would share a list of “eligible preferred agencies” in April, while the new booking rules kick in for tickets issued starting on May 1.


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