The narrative about air travel has been that basic economy fares get less and less, and pay for more and more things. About 8 years ago the trend began charging for checked bags in economy.
On the other hand, it’s usually expected that premium cabins get more. There’s more perks for people who pay more.
That’s not always true. For instance, the US Airways acquisition of American Airlines brought a real degradation in inflight catering to premium cabins. Domestic food became virtually inedible, though fortunately last summer they brought it some of the way back. Internationally they eliminated the canape from first class. The epitome of #firstworldproblems for sure but for an industry fixated on competing for high revenue passengers it’s still notable.
Continuing the trend of taking away from premium passengers, American shared with me today that they’re eliminating the 3rd free checked bag from domestic first class and international business class.
Wanted to give you a heads-up that we’re posting a change shortly to the bag allowance for some premium cabins. Starting with tickets bought March 29, we’ll allow two checked bags for free in two-cabin aircraft, including domestic First and international Business Class. That’s down from the current allowance of three checked bags. (This is in line with our US competitors). EPs continue to get three bags in those cabins per the table on aa.com.
Apparently the checked baggage policy page will soon be updated to:
Now, I’ve never checked three bags in my life. And as an Executive Platinum I still have this privilege. (Presumably oneworld Emerald members – top tiers with oneworld partner airlines – and Alaska Airlines MVP Gold 75Ks will continue to get their third checked bag free as well, but I’ve sought confirmation. Update: confirmed no change for these folks, or for military.)
Whenever you see a change made “in line with our competitors” you should replace that with @FakeUnitedJeff saying “we didn’t start the race to the bottom, but by God we plan to win it!”
This isn’t a major change for most, but it is a change. With as cheap as the airlines sell domestic first class now those who needed to check three bags would often find it cheaper to buy the first class seat than pay checked bag fees.
And I find it interesting that American considers it important enough to have someone thinking about and working on this change. Perhaps they read Priceonomics arguing that checked bag fees are too low.
If you aren’t an Executive Platinum but want to check bags as a premium cabin customer, buy your tickets before March 29.
Here’s something that will make bad checked baggage news go down easier: Watch this sleeping man go round and round on the baggage carousel.