A month ago JetBlue raised its first checked bag fee to $30. At the time I said JetBlue isn’t usually a leader on these things but the major US airlines would be watching very closely.
United followed the Friday afternoon of Labor Day Weekend presumably looking for the news to get buried with the rest of the trash when no one was watching. It didn’t surprise me that an airline led by Scott Kirby, who never met a fee he didn’t like (including for water), would go first.
Now Delta has jumped on board with $30 first checked bag fees (up from $25) and $40 second checked bag fees (up from $35).
Unlike United, at least Delta offers a 20 minute baggage delivery guarantee, so there’s more value for the fee they charge.
American Airlines will be under a lot of pressure to follow suit. Standing out offering a better deal isn’t something American has built a reputation on the past several years. They’ve been far more a follower of Delta. And even if attracting more customers with better pricing was a good strategy, with their stock under significant pressure they’re unlikely to want to stand out even further when Wall Street is looking at how they can possibly generate the revenue necessary to offset higher fuel prices.
It is, unfortunately, American’s move next. By the way a customer who sued when US Airways failed to deliver her $15 checked bag in a timely manner back in 2011 is still fighting American Airlines over it.