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updated 8/18/2010 12:37:37 PM ET 2010-08-18T16:37:37

American Airlines has found another fee.

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The Fort Worth, Texas, airline said Wednesday it's now charging between $19 and $39 for "Express Seats" — those spots in the first few rows of coach that include bulkhead seats.

American said the price of the seats includes getting on the plane in the first "general boarding" group of passengers. The seats that will cost extra are in the first two or three rows of the coach cabin, depending on the size of the plane.

Anne Banas, executive editor of SmarterTravel.com, thinks passengers will see more packaged fees like this in the future — where benefits like free standby or boarding perks are included.

NYT: Airline fees test travelers' limits

The carrier, which is operated by parent AMR Corp., is following in the footsteps of several other airlines who already charge for special seats. UAL Corp.'s United Airlines, Continental Airlines, US Airways, JetBlue, Frontier, Spirit and AirTran all have some seats that cost extra.

The American seats don't give passengers much extra for their money, said Steven Hall of CompareAirlineFees.com. Most of the other airlines' premium seats offer more legroom. But it is a benefit for passengers to be among the first to board the plane, he added.

The seats on American can only be bought at airport kiosks between 24 hours to 50 minutes before the flight for travel within the U.S.

American, the country's second-largest airline behind Delta Air Lines, still provides its elite frequent fliers those seats for no extra charge. American also charges fees for checked bags, priority boarding, booking on the phone or in person, "sleep sets," unaccompanied minors and pets.

On Tuesday, AirTran raised its fee for the first checked bag by $5 to $20 for travel starting in September. The cost is now on par with bigger airlines.

U.S. airlines collected about $1.9 billion from fees in the first quarter, the most recent period for which data is available from the Transportation Department. American's share of that was $261.1 million.

AP Airlines Writer David Koenig in Dallas contributed to this report.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Hidden fees trip air travelers

  1. Closed captioning of: Hidden fees trip air travelers

    >>> airfare is only the beginning these days for would be travelers trying to calculate the entire cost of a trip. extra fees abound for everything from baggage and carry-ons and boarding changes. it's really a fee frenzy we're talking about here. good morning.

    >> good morning, alex. and you know what? today there is a peak surcharge for flying. so today and tomorrow. today it's $20 they tack on to your --

    >> just for today?

    >> for today and for tomorrow it's $30. it happens all summer, but i checked a chart on farecompare.com and just for today and tomorrow $20 and $30 for tomorrow. these hidden fees, but you get them all over the summer. midweek, it's cheaper than that. you have to be a smart fliieflier. everything is delineated so that you can be a smarter flier. and this is really hitting the average traveler, the family the hardest. they're not like me, they're not a frequent flier .

    >> they're not searching --

    >> that's right.

    >> that's why i'm glad you can bring up some of that. and the people making a mint off of this are the airlines. check out how much they've made just from january to march alone. in terms of the baggage fees, $769 million were made on that, and then a whopping $554 million from reservation change fees.

    >> yes.

    >> so we know they're businesses, but are these all fair? in the big picture if you look at it?

    >> probably not. they're probably not fair. but they are operating in the red, most of these airlines, so it helps them move into the black. and we are in a recession. but no, is it really fair to check your bag for $15 to $25? bag number one and bag number two? i don't think that's fair. but do you have to check a bag? you need to start thinking about that.

    >> do you think people may be traveling less because of all of this? you say revenue's down and all of that, they're trying to make money. do you think if they went back to the way it was people might be more inclined to travel? because travelers are annoyed.

    >> they may not be able to operate solvently if they go back to the way it was. things have changed out there financially, but they don't have to gouge you and, you know, tit for tat that kind of -- those kind of fees. so it's smart to do everything online if you can. because everything is cheaper online if you check a bag. if you book online, if you don't go to a reservation agent to make your reservation. but there's just a lot of information that a traveler has to process.

    >> how about this -- should airlines be more upfront with all of the fees they charge? that's another thing people get annoyed about. why do i have to pay for this?

    >> yes, there has to be more i have friends who say, oh, my god, i had to check a bag and it cost me this amount of money. and they didn't know it because it's not disclosed and they get hit over the head with it.

    >> you find it out. how can people do that? can you even call a reservations agent and say what do you charge for?

    >> you can do that without being charged.

    >> you can do that?

    >> yes. but it is all delineated on the site. and also these great charts like i mentioned originally. ultimate guide to airline fees, smartertravel.com has it as well as airfarewatchdog.com. what is it going to cost for me to send a pet, for instance, there's a fee for that, as well. how much is it for me to get extra leg room? and you can look airline by airline. for instance, jetblue and, you know, jetblue is an airline that is very positive for travelers to -- it doesn't really gouge you as well as southwest.

    >> jetblue , if you fly cross country , it's nice to get in the first five seats. it's right up front.

    >> not a lot of fees with both southwest or jetblue . so you've got to consider and choose carefully who you're

Photos: Airline fees get silly

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