(Update) American Airlines increasing baggage & pet fees, eliminating mile & loyalty point earnings through OTAs

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Update 5/29/24: A few months ago, American Airlines announced that they’d be making a number of customer-unfriendly moves; they’d be increasing baggage fees, increasing pet fees and would be removing the ability to earn AAdvantage miles and Loyalty Points when booking through OTAs (Online Travel Agencies).

While the first two of those will still be going ahead, they’ve changed their mind about the latter. As a result, you’ll continue earning miles and Loyalty Points no matter whether you’ve booked your flight directly with AA, via Amex Travel, via Expedia, via Concur or any other method.

h/t OMAAT

Here’s the original post.

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American Airlines has made an announcement today regarding a number of upcoming changes. Their headline is:

Booking directly with American Airlines and its airline partners makes travel even better for AAdvantage members

That can only mean one thing – things are about to get worse and more expensive.

American Airlines airplane

You can find the full announcement here; here’s a summary of the changes.

Increased Baggage Fees

For travel booked from today (February 20, 2024), if you want to check a bag you’ll pay more for the privilege of doing so. Here’s the new set of fees:

American Airlines checked baggage fees table 2024

For reference, your first checked bag on domestic flights used to cost $30, while a second checked bag was $45. Those have therefore increased by $10 and $5 respectively. Having said that, you can mitigate the increased fee to an extent because paying for your first checked bag online will “only” cost $35 which represents a $5 increase.

For someone wanting/needing to check two bags round trip in the US, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands, you’ll now be looking at paying $160-$170 round trip.

Increased Pet-In-Cabin Fee

American used to charge $125 one-way to bring your eligible pet in the cabin with you. For tickets purchased on or after February 20, that fee will be increasing by 20% to $150.

Oversized And/Or Overweight Items

One very slight bright spot in these changes relates to people who are traveling with items that are oversized and/or overweight from April 17, 2024. If your bags are only a few pounds heavier or only a few inches longer than allowed as standard, you’ll only be charged an extra $30 rather than an extra $100-$200 that American Airlines would’ve previously charged.

If you have items that are both overweight and oversized, you’ll be looking at significantly cheaper fees as you’ll only be charged one consolidated fee rather than two fees.

Here’s a breakdown of how these oversized/overweight fees will be calculated going forward:

American Airlines overweight oversized baggage fees 2024

For any javelinists, pole vaulters and hang gliders among us, American has bad news for you. From April 17, 2024 they’ll no longer transport your equipment as they’re reducing the oversized limit to 115 linear inches.

No AAdvantage Miles Or Loyalty Points Earnings Booked Via OTAs

This is another big change for people who usually book their flights through OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) rather than directly from American Airlines. For tickets issued from May 1, 2024 onwards, you’ll only earn AAdvantage miles and Loyalty Points when booking via the following channels:

  • Book directly with American and eligible partner airlines
  • Book travel anywhere as an AAdvantage Business member or contracted corporate traveler
  • Book through preferred travel agencies

American hasn’t stated yet as to which travel agencies will be regarded as “preferred”, but have advised that they’ll be sharing a list of them in late April.

For Basic Economy flights, you’ll have to book directly with American – it doesn’t look like those fares will be eligible for mileage earning with whichever travel agencies become preferred.

Quick Thoughts

These are some pretty big changes. American is the first airline (that I can think of) to prevent you from earning miles and status in its loyalty program when booking flights through OTAs like Expedia. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Delta and United following suit once this precedent has been set, so it’ll be interesting to see how long it takes for them to issue a press release themselves announcing something similar.

As for the increased baggage fees, this will make most American Airlines credit cards or earning status in the AAdvantage program more valuable. That’s because most of their credit cards – and all levels of elite status from Gold and above – get a free first checked bag within the US and to a number of destinations worldwide (you can find the full list here). For those with Platinum status and higher, you get two checked bags free. As highlighted above, under the new fee rules that’ll save you $160-$170 round trip for two bags, so frequent – or even not-so-frequent – American Airlines flyers without one of their credit cards could become even more incentivized to earn Loyalty Points. Increasing baggage fees is therefore a win-win for American whatever happens.

For those who travel with pets, the news that it’ll now cost $300 round trip rather than $250 won’t be a welcome change.

Overall, this is a disappointing set of developments, especially because where American have gone with this, United and Delta will surely follow (cue Gilmore Girls theme song).

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Lee

This is about Vasu Raja. A reader of an article on another site stated that he was hired by and worked for Raja. He says that in 2010, Raja was seen as a breadth of fresh air. A new generation of thinkers. He rose up the hierarchy. And, no one expected his strategy would go so disastrously wrong. It never panned out the way he suggested it would. Perhaps AA’s board recognizes the company needs to abandon the commodity model and adopt the quality model.

MarQ

Hey paid the price and was sacked. Now he’ll have a chance to fail upwards of course!

jon

What about extra charges for obese passengers? I’m sure that has been thought about. Next will be a lavatory usage charge / fee that you will have to pay in advance. And AA will say this is for passenger convenience!

patrick

Triple the pet fees!!! Why in the heck do you need to take a pet with you?

Gigi

So if someone moves they should abandon their pets? If they are traveling for months should they just leave them? GTFO!

patrick

Nope and nope.. .but who travels for months with a pet? And should they even have a pet if they are going to be on the road for so long? Is all that travel good for the pet? And if you are moving and flying to your new home, bring Fido along but please keep Fido in control and in his carrier.

Gigi

a lot of people can/might. we can’t know every single person’ situation, try to be more understanding.

jerry

What a narrow minded – idiotic series of comments. Dude take up hobby and go watch some Only Fans or something.

Patrick

Now that’s funny.

MFK

Praise be! 🙂

Last edited 16 days ago by MFK
Justmeha

Will this affect mileage earning when crediting to Partners?

Darin

I think this slightly misinterprets the goals AA has here and who will be affected. AA has been trying to force agencies into NDC (New Distribution Channel) models that allow for upsells and other AA revenue enhancing goals in their bookings. If OTAs adopt NDC (some already have), they will stay in AA’s good graces and be “preferred”.

This was a shot across the bow to agencies to get them to adopt now or face consequences. Unfortunately, there is a lot of missing functionality in NDC bookings, so agencies are now being put into a difficult dilemma: integrate NDC and not be able to adequately service your customer, or have your customers angry that they don’t get mileage/LPs. Really crappy of AA to do this.

L K

for 1-3 lbs overweight they often let it go, rather than people opening the bag and removing a few things into their pockets or carryon. So the limit is now really 49 lbs? What’s the uncertainty on their scales? I’d still shuffle luggage to save $30- wouldn’t you?

justin

49 is horrible, there is nothing worse in travel than incompatible standards as you move along your path. You pack your bags perfectly for the 1st leg, everything is fine, you don’t change the contents of any bags… get to leg 2 and suddenly you have an aho airline with a different standard demanding overweight fees and so on.

Last edited 3 months ago by justin
John

Is there no end to their greed?

Lee

Why not turn “their” greed into your advantage? Become one of “them” and buy AA stock.

John

Because it’s far from certain that “their greed” will result in more customers and therefore higher revenues that might translate to a higher stock price. Besides, rather than buy an individual stock and gamble on it I would rather buy Total Stock Market Index EFT’s that provide ownership in a wide variety of stocks, greater diversification and lower risk at usually a lower cost.

gggggg

AA stock hasn’t been performing well. United has. Can’t speak do Delta (haven’t been following it)

Biggie F

From what I read in this week’s WSJ, now is the time to buy AA stock (“buy low …) because, boy, is the stock price low. Even AA seems to think that the deterioration in company performance and stock price during the last three months may be connected to the inception of this customer-unfriendly policy.

Kenisha

I’d have to assume travel portals like C1 and Chase are safe.

Brutus

Why is that? Does AA have a special relationship with these bank portals?

EruptingLoowit

My guess would be Citi… If any of the card portals. Alternatively, they may partner with an OTA where you may get LP’s for the booking cost+flight but we will find out in April.

Kenisha

Bc it would be a massive change, so they would need to make exceptions

Last edited 3 months ago by Kenisha
John

Chase uses Expedia so I wouldn’t assume that at all.

Tonei Glavinic

Note that credit cards only get you a free bag on domestic flights, free bags in intl (including Canada and Mexico) requires status

Eric

It’ll be interesting to see whether the Amex, Chase, Capital One and Bilt portals (and any other cards I’m not thinking of) end up being preferred and earn miles this way. Could be a stealth devaluation for people who redeem their points that way rather than by transfers.

Larry K

Amex is the one that matters to me most. I have American set as my airline of choice on the business platinum and use it to get the 30 percent points back — basically 1.5 cents. While I actually value Amex points more than 1.5 cents, the ability to earn AA miles and loyalty points on the flight itself when using Amex in this way has made the difference. I’d miss this feature and it would put a dent in my desire to keep the business platinum card if this option goes away.

Santiago Speranza

So for corporate travel booked through sites like Concur, will those be treated like an OTA? If so, AA just lost all of my business.

Kenisha

From this line, I think you’re safe: “You’ll only earn AAdvantage miles and Loyalty Points when booking via the following channels: Book travel anywhere as an AAdvantage Business member or contracted corporate traveler”

Stacey

I’m guessing that Concur lands on the list along with a few others. Because if not then holy hell are a lot of federal/DoD employees/reservists/guards are going to be pissed off. When I was enlisted we had to do orders through a portal.

Steve

If they do this with Concur, they will lose thousands of business flyers. Nearly all my peers in public and private companies are required to book their travel through Concur. I have to believe that Concur lands on a list that earns loyalty points and miles. But hey, maybe AA hasn’t thought this through at all…

Lee

How about one of your peers calls Concur and asks? Then report back.

Steve

Will certainly report back. Our travel agent is clueless and looking for answers at the moment.

Lee

You mean just like when booking hotels?

justin

The question is, what are the downline consequences? I already never find flights on certain airlines like Southwest because their own website is the only place you can find them. They aren’t searchable in any of the standard engines.

If every airline becomes a walled garden, … I don’t even want to contemplate the trouble of traveling. I’m frequently traveling on new airlines I’ve never been on before because I don’t go to the same places or take the same paths between them (E.g. how I get from Spain to Colombia or how I get from France to Thailand) so I’m not even familiar with who to search except a big name (say “Air France”).

With hotels the same is never an issue, as I basically zoom in on Google maps to the yellow area (walking area) of whatever city I’m going to and just kind of take a look at all the hotels and how close they are to a local gym and coffee shop.

Last edited 3 months ago by justin