American Airlines Standardizing Checked Baggage Allowances, Introducing Basic Economy To Asia

American Airlines has a wide variety of policies for how many checked bags are offered free to customers. They’re simplifying their policies, which in a couple of cases means more free bags but in other cases means fewer.

They’re also adding basic economy fares to transpacific and Israel/India flights, but those fares will include a checked bag. So the major restriction is that these fares will not allow changes.

Here are the (3) changes American has announced:

  • “All Premium Economy tickets will now include two free checked bags regardless of the
    Currently Alaska and Hawaii premium economy travel gets only one free checked bag, so a small win for customers heading to those two destinations.

  • “Long-haul international Main Cabin tickets in all markets will include one free checked
    Transpacific destinations go from two free checked bags down to one.

  • “Customers traveling in Asia/Oceania will be offered a new nonchangeable Basic
    Economy Plus Bag fare that includes one free checked bag.”
    Transpacific flights already get free checked bags, so this is just saying they’ll be selling Basic Economy on Asia Pacific routes plus Israel and India, but won’t be taking away a checked bag as part of that.

In addition American is pushing forward with their ‘new distribution capability’ to allow upsales through more points of sale. Starting today “a select group of pilot agencies” can offer “a Main Plus experience, which includes an extra-legroom Main Cabin Extra or Preferred Seat, an additional free checked bag, and Group 5 boarding” as well as “a Corporate Experience offer, which includes a preferred seat and priority privileges for Business Extra customers” on domestic American-operated flights.

Changes to American’s checked bag fee allowances aren’t taking anything away from business or first class customers, or from elite frequent flyers and co-brand credit card customers, who will continue to receive their customary extra baggage allowances.

What would be more helpful that simplification of course would be for American Airlines to take a competitive page from partner Alaska Airlines and competitor Delta and offer a 20 minute bag delivery guarantee so that customers don’t sit and wait for checked bags on arrival. American does track 20 minute bag delivery times but hasn’t ever been willing to guarantee them.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Any news on US to Mexico?
    In the past you payed for all checked bags in economy to most cities. AA has lost a lot of this business to SWA. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why besides always being overpriced or requiring more award miles than SWA.
    SWA can sure use their gates.

  2. Right Paul, what would be more helpful is if the airlines stopped gouging with bag fees at all. They charge and then wonder why people try to carry on more at all, leading to an angry spiral of problems. Lines like Sun Country which are putting their hands in customers pockets for carry on charges are the next step, and beneath contempt. Southwest has the right idea, no fees. More power to them.

  3. What would really be a great change for American’s baggage service would be to get the baggage handlers to start honoring ‘Priority Handling’. At almost every baggage carousel you can commiserate with other elites about how ‘priority handling’ means last bag to arrive.

  4. The thing that really upset me was learning (at the airport check-in counter) that none of the American airlines credit cards include a free checked bag for international flights to Costa Rica. I have used the free check bag benefit a lot on flights to domestic flights and have never had an issue with international flights on American to Europe or South America, but my guess is that the free bag must have been included in the fare, so I never knew that free checked bags were only included on domestic flights.

    This contrasts with my flight back on Delta, where holding the credit card included the free checked bag.

  5. These changes make sense, both from a business and customer perspective. Consistency is king.

    And it further reinforces that Basic Economy, Standard Coach, and Premium Economy, respectively, are different hard and soft products with different price points in the market.

    So even more it is up to pax where the want to spend their money – in the air, on the ground, or both. And they now have more granular choices along the way.

  6. @Gary Is there any instance where oversized bags don’t incur a fee?

    Domestically, checked-bags appear to be restricted to a linear 62″ on alse US carriers (else pay a hefty fee on order of $200). Notably, AA provides for 70 lbs for F/J customers and elites.. but thers’ no mention of excess baggage size (only weight).

    Internationally, does AA allow for larger bags? It seems carriers like BA permit far larger checked bags (though I think they’re still restricted to ~ 50lbs vs 70lbs). I’d love to buy Rimowa TrunkXL or TrunkPlus, but it appears this only makes sense for the european flyer. Supposing I need that much stuff am I really going to be stuck checking two “Check-in L” models?

    In practice, I’m guessing the measuring tape rarely comes out, and I often see larger bags on the turnstile. Still, even an occasional $200 surprise at the gate will break the bank IMO

  7. In the US, it looks like only Allegiant flies > 62″ without extra fee. However, they still charge $25-41 (variable pricing) for the first bag unless you’re military/veteran. Overage in weight is $50 for 41-70; and $75 up to 100 lbs (also free for military/veteran).

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