American’s Checked Baggage Fees are Spreading to More International Flights

Back in March American tightened its free checked bag allowance for premium cabin customers eliminating the 3rd free checked bag from domestic first class and international business class.

Over the past 8 years checked bag fees have become a huge part of airline revenue. Crucially, while domestic airfares are taxed at 7.5% off the top, checked bag fees aren’t subject to this excise tax, making them an especially attractive tax arbitrage play. While politicians complain about checked bag fees, those fees are encouraged through the tax code.

This also explains why checked bag fees started out primarily domestic. But as airlines go looking for revenue, with few tricks left up their sleeve in a declining revenue environment, they’re spreading more internationally.

American Airlines has updated its checked baggage policy for tickets purchased (or reissued) starting today.

Via JonNYC at Flyertalk:

Effective today, several changes to baggage allowances and charges for Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America:

• $25 first checked bag fee now applies to all of Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean except for Panama City and San Salvador; previous exceptions such as Kingston, Mexico City, Santo Domingo are rescinded
• New $40 second checked bag fee to Guayaquil and Quito
• New $55 seasonal (high season from 7/26 to 8/10 and 12/9 to 12/24) second checked bag charge to Port au Prince, San Pedro Sula, San Salvador, and Tegucigalpa
• New $40 seasonal second checked bag charge to Cali

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.

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. Really unfortunate they got rid of their exceptions. Was a true point of differentiation at least for me going to MEX. Saving $50 round trip was the reason we picked American most times.

  2. I recently went to St Maarten on AA. Went to check my bags since I have the AA credit card. My smile turned to frown when I discovered that the “free” checked bag is on domestic itineraries NOT international. The agent said “yeah, we get this a lot”…
    As far as I am concerned, another example poor customer service from AA.

  3. after you’ve got the “cheap flight’ no one thinks about ancillary costs. It’s what they’re banking on. To be honest, it’s smart, most folks don’t care day of departure —or can’t be fussed to argue. True “laisez faire” at

  4. As a lifetime Platinum member I would like to see bag fees raised mercilessly and fares reduced endlessly – until American inevitably eliminates that perk 😉

  5. Gary,

    I know that this is not retain to this topic. But I will soon be flying from SEA-LAX on an American Airlines A319 in first class. Looking at previous tail numbers for my flight, it appears to be operated by a reconfigured US Airways A319. From what I found online, it looks like all A319s have been reconfigured at this point. My question is that will the first class seat on the reconfigured A319s be the same as on the American delivered A319s and the new B738s? Also do the reconfigured A319s have AVOD or not? I can not find any pictures or info online about the reconfigured AA A319s other than all former US Airways ones have been reconfigured (and my seat map shows only 8 first class seats) and based on tracking previous tails it seems to be an ex US Airways plane.


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