It’s not just United: American gets into the fee-based game

Earlier this week, I wrote that United is experimenting with credit-card-only services on their flights between San Francisco and New York.

My colleague Andrew Binstock commented that American Airlines plays that game too. “American Airlines did the credit-card only thing last month, as a trial. This month, I noticed, they took cash and credit cards. So, it’s not a United-only thing. I suspect it has to do with the expense and hassle of dealing with cash,” he wrote.

Today, American Airlines started charging customers to check baggage. Forget “one bag free,” like United now offers — American will ding budget travelers for checking even a single suitcase. Today, $15. Tomorrow… $25? $50?

At least American is honest, and calls it an “additional revenue growth effort” in their news release:

Today, American introduced a $15 fee for the first checked bag, given the increasing costs of transporting checked baggage. This fee, which is effective for tickets purchased on or after June 15, does not apply to: American’s AAdvantage program members who have achieved AAdvantage Gold, AAdvantage Platinum and AAdvantage Executive Platinum level; those who have purchased full-fare tickets in the Economy, Business and First Class cabins; and those with international itineraries (except to and from Canada and U.S. territories, such as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands).

American also said today that it has increased its fees for certain other services, ranging from reservation service fees to pet and oversized bag fees. The increases mostly range from $5 to $50 per service. The company estimates that new and increased fees announced this month will generate several hundred million dollars in incremental annual revenue.

Check out the American release. The details are fascinating, and for those of us not in the air transportation business, it’s a glance inside a different world.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick