American Airlines to charge $15 for first checked bag

Saturday, May 31, 2008, 20:35 by Aviation Correspondent

American Airlines has decided to charge a fee of $15 (£7.50) to check a bag on domestic flights, thus becoming the first major airline in the United States to charge passengers for a first checked bag.

Those exempted from the fee for first checked bag include international travelers, some of American Airlines’ frequent fliers as well as anyone who bought a full-price ticket in economy, business or first class.

The move is intended to cope with soaring prices of jet fuel costs and a slumping US economy, a statement from American Airlines has said.

Many carriers in the United States had, in April 2008, started charging $25 for a second checked bag.

American Airlines will also reduce the number of its domestic flights and dispose of older, fuel-guzzling jets.

American Airlines, a wholly owned subsidiary of the AMR Corporation, is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, adjacent to the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. It is the world’s largest airline in total passengers-miles transported as well as passenger fleet size, the second-largest airline in terms of aircraft operated, and the second-largest airline company in the world (behind Air France-KLM) in terms of total operating revenues.

American Airlines operates scheduled flights throughout the United States as well as to Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, Western Europe, Japan, China, and India.

According to BBC News, other airlines may soon start charging for first checked bag, “quite possibly marking the end of free bag checking that most passengers have known for their entire lives.”

Gerard Arpey, chief executive officer of AMR Corporation, parent company of American Airlines, was quoted by BBC as saying: “The bottom line is that our revenues, which include ticket sales and fees, must keep pace with our increasing costs.”

American Airlines will also bring down its overall domestic capacity – the number of seats available and miles flown within the United States – by 11% to 12% by the fourth quarter of 2008.

The airline will retire 40 to 45 of its larger jets and 35 to 40 regional aircraft, the company statement said.

However, the number of workers who will lose their jobs still has not been determined, the statement added.

Many airlines are taking drastic steps to tackle rising operating costs through measures such as eliminating routes and laying off workers.

United Airlines, one of the major airlines based in the United States, had recently raised the fee for changing tickets – a service that used to cost $100 and now costs $150.

Many carriers charge fees for fliers who want more legroom or prefer to sit in an exit row. Besides, most airlines now charge for meals, which used to be covered in the price of a ticket.