American Airlines hikes baggage fees, joins Delta, JetBlue, United

By TransportationFOXBusiness

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American Airlines has joined the rest of the major U.S. air carriers in hiking fees for checked baggage.

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The Dallas-based carrier will charge more for a first and second checked bag beginning Sept. 21, joining Delta, United and JetBlue, which have all recently increased prices. The $5 increase means customers will pay $30 for the first bag and $40 for the second bag if traveling on a flight in the U.S. and Canada in a Main Cabin class seat.

"American is matching the recent $5 increase to first and second checked baggage fees," American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein told FOX Business in a statement. "Like fares, baggage fees are set by the supply and demand for the product in the marketplace, and today’s changes are in line with what other U.S. competitors are charging."

American’s bag fee increase comes a day after Delta raised its prices, and just weeks after United and JetBlue hiked their fees for checked bags by $5. This is the first time American has changed its domestic checked bag fees since 2010, the airline said. American has raked in the most money from luggage fees among the major carriers so far this year – around $603,000 – according to data from the Bureau of Transportation, putting it ahead of United (nearly $412,000) and Delta (more than $375,000).

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Airlines have been pressured by higher fuel prices in 2018 and have begun to transfer that cost down into additional fees, such as having passengers pay more for bags. Delta’s fuel cost in the second quarter of this year was $654 million more than in the same period a year ago, a 39 percent increase. The price of jet fuel is averaging $86.50 per barrel this year.

Carriers have also started to cut under-performing routes in an effort to compensate for higher fuel costs. American announced in late August that it would cut flights from Los Angeles to Toronto, Chicago to Shanghai and Philadelphia to Munich, and scale back the frequency of flights on certain routes, citing low profitability of the routes during the “current fuel and competitive environment.” The statement came the same day that Hawaiian Airlines said it would suspend service from its hub in Honolulu to Beijing, though its CEO said the airline plans to return to China.

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