American Airlines Raises Baggage Fees At The Worst Possible Time
As was reported by Ben over at One Mile at a Time, American Airlines raised baggage fees on transatlantic basic economy fares from $60 to $75. One Mile at a Time reports that the following destinations are included in the increase: Europe, Israel, Morocco, and the US, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.
In a statement from an American Airlines spokesperson, the airline said they are increasing the baggage fees to be more in line with their Joint Atlantic Business partners. That includes British Airways, Iberia, and Finnair.
This is a great question, and one I don’t have the answer too. One Mile at a Time suggests this may be preplanned. It’s very possible that’s the case. Even if this was preplanned, the time is not right for this news.
Why Not Now?
There’s plenty of reasons why AA should not have increases baggage fees now. It is a completely tone deaf move, and completely devoid of instilling any faith in the airline.
For starters, the airline just accepted over $10 billion in aid through grants and loans from the U.S. Government. The U.S. taxpayers generously (though some of us opposed it) donated our hard-earned tax dollars to AA to help them survive. And how do they repay the taxpayers? Well, by increasing baggage fees for their lowest fares.
Which leads me to my next point: what arrogance to take billions and then turn around and increase fees on the lowest fare available to people. This comes at the same time it is completely unknown when travel will rebound and AA shouldn’t be taking action that might cause people to reconsider them. After all, the taxpayers may soon own a large stake in the airlines.
And Let’s Not Forget There’s a Global Pandemic
And if receiving billions in stimulus and a completely unknown future for travel isn’t enough, there’s always the fact we are in a global pandemic. Americans and the world have been largely locked in their houses for a month or more. They are vying for social interaction and the ability to go out and do things. Many lost their jobs and will struggle to return to a firm pre-corona economic footing.
What this does is put travel just a little more out of reach for people currently suffering. Of course, many who read this will claim, “It’s only a $15 increase.” But that’s part of the problem. Travel is something millions of Americans save up for, particularly a big trip overseas like might be covered in these basic economy fares.
This Impacts Families
Imagine a family of four saving for the past couple of years to go to Europe or the Caribbean. Two parents want nothing more than to have their children experience a part of the world. They save and save, they’re hit by corona and one loses their jobs, and now their plans are put on pause. That family of four now has to pay maybe $60 each way — $120 roundtrip. That matters to them in current climate. There are millions of Americans suffering right now, and AA is making travel more difficult at a time they should be doing the opposite. That is exactly why I describe them as tone deaf.
The greatest issue is American Airlines can be this arrogant and tone deaf because we let them. We stand by as they do whatever they want, regardless of what every customer says. It doesn’t matter what message is sent from the elites of the airline to those passengers purchasing a basic economy fare once a year. American Airlines doesn’t care about you.
But They Say It’s All About “You”
Which leads to the greatest irony of all. On the same day we find out baggage fees are increasing, AA releases a very nice video. To their credit, I think the video is absolutely phenomenal. It makes me feel so proud and like we’re going to get through this together.
But then I realize it’s the same airline that doesn’t care about YOU. It’s the same airline that decides to raise baggage fees during a pandemic. The same airline that tells customers to be “flexible” and wait over a month for a refund because they’re going through a hard time. It’s the same airline that devalues their AAdvantage miles. It’s the same airline that uses its free cash to purchase buybacks.
That is not to say American Airlines is the only airline that does this. We have faithfully criticized other airlines, including Delta, Jet Blue, and United. But in this moment, American Airlines is different than the rest in this respect. In addition to that, I fly American. They are the airline my husband and I have chosen to put thousands and thousands of dollars into. They are the airline that I care most about because we have invested in them.
American Airlines’s decision to increase baggage fees at this time is terrible. The timing could not be worse. I get it, it’s a business. But if it’s a business that is taking billions of taxpayer money, maybe it should think of those same taxpayers it’s meant to serve. There are apologists for this airline that will simply say they need to make money, and I see that argument.
But AA doesn’t care about “you,” and that’s not why they fly. If they did, they wouldn’t have chosen an international crisis, economic downturn, and global pandemic as the time American Airlines raises baggage fees.