American’s Outsourced Curbside Check-In Has Gotten More Expensive

American Airlines now outsources curbside check-in at most airports where it’s available, and it’s no longer offered free (plus tips) where provided. When this was announced a year ago the price was $3 per bag. The price has gone up in some locations.

The fee is still $3 in Austin, even if it’s gone up to $4 in some locations.

Being able to drop bags at the curb is incredibly helpful for families with more bags than children, and students flying to school with a year’s worth of belongings – rather than dragging them into the terminal.

American Airlines now outsources curbside check-in to vendor Baggage Airlines Guest Services (Bags, Inc.). This is offered for domestic travel only. There is no curbside check-in offered for international.

What American has accomplished is to turn curbside bag check from an expense (they paid employees to do it) into a revenue generator (they get a cut of the fees received from the franchise). Bags, Inc. provides curbside check-in in places like Atlanta; Austin; Boston; Dallas – Fort Worth; Denver; Fort Lauderdale; Las Vegas; Kansas City; Orlando; Raleigh; Richmond; San Antonio; San Diego; Salt Lake City; San Francisco; Seattle and at Washington National.

For historical and contractual reasons, Miami continues to offer curbside check-in, where the service has been provided by American’s wholly-owned regional carrier Envoy (rather than by American Airlines itself), and in Maui where it doesn’t cost the airline anything to provide. I believe Chicago O’Hare still has American Airlines Skycaps (and does not charge passengers a fee).

One of the early cuts that US Airways management made after taking over American was eliminating curbside check-in across 38 airports. There was a lot of pushback against this. Curbside check-in was suspended entirely at most airports as a cost-saving measure in July 2020 before moving to the outsourced model last fall.

Ironically about the only time I’ve ever needed curbside check-in was when US Airways management botched the reservation system integration with America West, online and kiosk check-in was down, and legacy US Airways agents didn’t know how to use the America West system. People working outside for tips sure did – and $5 got me a boarding pass rather than a 45 minute wait in the first class check-in line.

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Curbside is a crap-shoot, the biggest source of mistagged bags. We experienced it with both “more bags than children,” and with a “student flying to school with a year’s worth of belongings.” Paying for it ads insult to injury.

  2. If someone doesn’t find value in the service, don’t f***ing use it and don’t f***ing pay for it and don’t f***ing complain about it. The gimme-gimme attitude that wants everything for free is astounding.

  3. Skycaps have costs other than wages and work for tips. There is health insurance cost , paid holiday paid vacation workers compensation insurance and claims , uniforms , and security training. So do not think the work for just tips because no one tips them on their vacation

  4. Tomri you forgot UION DUES!! Their healthcare and other bennies should be paid by their employer or UNION

  5. You all clearly are unaware that BAGS INC does not have a union. They do not provide benefits. Hell, they don’t even provide a break room unless said AA station allows them into their breakroom… News flash- they don’t. The manager, you would think they have for each airport, is actually just a lead agent who reports to a “regional” manager. Who is just as clueless.

    The agents, however, are some of the most by-the-book people I had ever seen when I oversaw the company in various stations I had under me. So, they need to realize their own potential and move up to a real company.

    To some of you who think they should work for tips only or whatever… They keep 100% of the tips and get an hourly wage. Let’s face it, you wouldn’t work for that, so don’t go blasting them. It’s best you tip them in cash, not via the payment option.

    Sadly, BAGS INC is a crappy company.

Comments are closed.