American Rolled Out Prepaid Checked Baggage to All 50 States

This past weekend American Airlines expanded their test of letting customers prepay checked bag fees online in advance (between 4 and 24 hours prior to departure) to all 50 states for domestic itineraries. This should save customer and agent time at the airport, and ultimately save American money.

This is for:

  • Coach passengers on :wholly domestic itineraries within the 50 U.S. states:
  • It applies only to American Airlines-issued tickets (001 ticket stock) for American operated flights with American flight numbers (no codeshares).
  • For up to 3 bags

This is not offered for travel from Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or:

  • Anchorage
  • Huntsville, Alabama
  • Orlando
  • Burbank
  • Las Vegas
  • Portland, Maine
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Maui
  • Raleigh/Durham
  • Des Moines
  • McAllen, Texas
  • Sacramento
  • Fort Hood/Killeen, Texas
  • Miami
  • San Diego
  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Myrtle Beach
  • Santa Ana
  • Fresno
  • New York JFK and LaGuardia
  • Tampa
  • Harlingen, Texas
  • Oakland, California (I had to check to remind myself that American again flies here)
  • Washington Dulles and National
  • Westchester, New York

If you prepay for baggage and wind up with an agent who doesn’t think you’re already covered, here’s how it shows up in their systems:

Apparently pre-paid baggage gets tricky in irregular operations as the baggage payment can get disassociated from the itinerary.

Prepaid Bag EMDs are associated to the VCR, so when an itinerary is changed for a customer with PPBs, the EMD becomes disassociated. QIKCHK can adjust PPB EMDs when itinerary changes are needed for customers. Once the itinerary has been updated and the ticket reissued, QIKCHK will rebuild the AEs and EMDs as necessary in order to recognize the previously paid PPBs.

American used to let you prepay baggage over the phone for a flat $100 per bag, more than paying at the airport but exempt apparently from weighing the bag so it could save you money on overweight luggage. Now heavy and oversized bags are supposed to be checked by an agent. (Another prepaid baggage scenario that requires manual intervention by an agent is a pet checked as luggage. Not mentioned in the latest memo but most certainly also checking firearms would fall under this category.)

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. Miami? They’re excluding one of their biggest hubs? For that matter, the whole exclusion list doesn’t make much sense.

  2. It’s hardly being rolled out across the country with that exclusion list. MIA? DCA? LGA? JFK? Sheesh, what’s the point?

  3. Why would anyone do this when you still have to use a machine (or an agent) to tag the bag and then to take the bag to the conveyor? If AA really wants people to prepay they need to offer a serious discount or better yet major time savings. Almost as stupid as internet checkin for hotels.

  4. Absolutely agree with the comments above. If they’re gonna exclude some of the most hectic airports like MIA, JFK, LGA, and Reagan then what’s the point of introducing this prepaid system? Isn’t this initiative all about cutting the required time for American’s agents to check customers’ bags?

  5. Some of those cities have a lot of international travel with excessive overweight baggage…….that would definitely require over wt fees.

  6. ” Skycaps always get screw, It is a black intuition, So they don’t want to see that. They never like Skycaps.

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