Airlines have created plenty of extra fees and charges for services and have increased airfares, all in the name of rising fuel prices and difficult business conditions. The American Airlines decision to charge $15 for a first checked bag, however, is the first of its kind.
Msnbc.com readers were asked to respond, and overwhelmingly blasted the legacy carrier’s decision.
Read on for a selection of e-mailed responses.
“They should just raise the prices. I wouldn't mind paying paying $15 for a checked bag if I got better service and my luggage didn't come off the carousel with some type of damage. What's next, you arrive early to put your own luggage in the belly of the plane? I already see travelers overpacking their carry-ons which causes delays in the security checkpoint lines and also on the plane. The airlines are in the business to transport traveling passengers/customers. I think it is difficult to travel without luggage, especially with children who require car seats and strollers. It's just another way to nickel and dime the customer.”
— Michele, Fairfield, N.J.
“It makes good business sense. There are several airlines in Europe already doing the same thing. While none of them are legacy carriers like American, all the airlines are hurting and have to be creative in generating revenue. I am not surprised by this move at all and I believe that others will follow soon. I'm sure they already thought of this idea. They are just watching public reaction to American Airlines being the first to act. My concern is how this move will add to the excess carry-on luggage problems already at issue. I hope the airlines will enforce the carry-on bag policy and charge passengers accordingly at the gate who try to avoid the new fees by not checking bags at the ticket counter. Just be consistent with the policy.”
— Cielak, San Diego, Calif.
“This is rather short sighted; those passengers that would normally check their one bag, as they should, will now be forced to follow suit of all the inconsiderate travelers who try to carry-on bags that have no business being in overhead bins. This practice is already a problem, and a fee on the first checked bag will only mitigate the issue.”
— Jeff B., Elgin, Ill.
“I don't think negatively of American for doing this. The cost of business, in this case just staying in business, sometimes necessitates increases in costs and costs for services provided gratis prior. I can only hope that gas prices will stabilize, the cost of oil will stabilize and we can figure out a way to make our great country less dependent on foreign crude.”
— Santi H., Colorado Springs, Colo.
“I understand that airlines need to charge more because of increased fuel costs. So raise fares. Charging for bags will only create more havoc and add time to the check-in process. It will also encourage more people to try and fit more carry-ons into limited space. And, after all the bins are full, are the flight attendants going to collect the fees? It makes more sense to charge everyone who's flying, not just those who have baggage. I will avoid doing business with any carrier that tries to recover fuel costs with baggage charges.”
— John G., Holyoke, Mass.
“Charging a fee to put your bags on your flight seems a little greedy to me. It’s one thing to charge extra for optional services, but quite another to charge for something that really isn't a ‘service.’ Having your baggage on the plane is part of the agreement with the airlines when the ticket was purchased. It also seems that the airlines put themselves in precarious financial positions with all these cut-rate ticket prices to fill seats, the price of fuel not withstanding.”
— Tom S., Spokane, Wash.
“I think it is a stupid idea. Why not simply build it into the price? A nickel for this; a dime for that … this is bad business.”
— Eric C., Corona, Calif.
“I have made the travel arrangements for our company and am not impressed that the airlines will be charging for luggage. We are all affected by the fuel and the economy at this time. There are no pay raises, only layoffs and to add this is a slap in the face. There has to be another way to reduce their costs other than charge the American people … the very same who have made America Airlines what it is today. God bless us all during these times.”
— Jennifer, Jacksonville, Fla.
“This is a poor policy that will factor in choosing which airline to fly when there is a choice. It's fair to charge for the second bag but it's ridiculous to charge for the first one. There are some of us, who manage to pack a single bag for a week long business trip, charging for a single bag is really nickel and diming the customer. Anyone that cannot limit their luggage to a single bag deserves to be charged.”
— H.B., Cherry Hill, N.J.
“This is another good reason to take the train. No baggage fees, and no surprise price hikes.”
— George, Dallas
“OK, so let me get this straight. I'm going away for a week and they want to charge me for luggage. They don't want you bring bags on the plane? I think something is really broke with this management team and airline. I won't be flying it anytime soon.”
— Joe, New York, N.Y.
“I think this is ridiculous. With the restrictions on things/sizes you can bring on a plane nowadays … and then to have to PAY to check one bag!!! I have to check my bag with make up, shampoo, hygiene things etc. This probably won't go over very well. I'm sure American will have lots of angry customers. I probably will avoid flying American from now on.”
— Margaux,Minneapolis, Minn.
“Let them go into bankruptcy. With a family of four this will mean an extra $60. How are you supposed to travel without bags? It bothers me when a company tries to hit you with fees instead of just raising the price. I live in Dallas (the hub), but will look for other airlines.”
— Mark, Dallas
“I think every traveler should be allowed at least one checked bag without an additional charge. They do not have enough room for everyone to use carry-on bags and store them. A traveler needs to be able to take clothes with them on a trip.”
“Hmm … a family of four, one checked bag each round trip puts us at $120. And that's after spending $400 per ticket. I think I'll be taking JetBlue from now on.”
— B. Kasdan, Los Angeles
“It's malarkey! Their management is so poor they can't come up with anything reasonable. Pretty soon they'll charge for the air you breathe. Yes the airlines will follow suit.”
— Debbie, Westminister, Colo.
“I'm not really surprised by this move and I'm guessing other airlines will follow suit. I do think this will breed a new annoyance, more and more people struggling with carry-on luggage. This will create more of a hassle to passengers when they board the plane and raises the additional question of whether the airline will charge for gate-checked baggage because there is no overhead storage room available.”
— Christopher, Jackson, Miss.
“I will definitely look to other airlines that don't charge this fee. There are plenty of other ways American can cut costs. It's just so easy for them to go after their customers … again.”
— Dan, San Diego, Calif.
“I think American Airlines has just cut their own throat with the flying public. I'll never fly that airline again. If it's that bad they need to shut down and go out of business.”
— Steve, Wetumpka, Ala.
“It's asinine and [American has] to remember there are still a lot of other choices out there for flying.”
— Diana, Herndon, Va.
“I wouldn't do business with American if I can get flights with its competitors and not have to pay to check my luggage. This is a very bad business move on their part. I understand that airlines need to start charging more — that's economics. They haven't substantially raised fares in years despite economic changes, but charging money for a service that cannot be avoided is a bad move.”
— Peter, Charlotte, Mich.
“I'd rather the price of a ticket be raised by $15. That would be more transparent; this just comes across as nickel-and-diming the customer. I'm regretting purchasing tickets on AA for a pending trip this summer!
— Angela, Colorado
“That is insane! They say they are trying to get us to pay for services we ‘want,’ but since you can't carry much of anything ON the plane anymore you have no choice but to check bags. I hope the other airlines do not follow suit and American loses enough business to drop this ridiculous charge.
— Alonzo, Brooklyn, N.Y.
“This will be a nightmare for anyone trying to find space for their carry-on bag. I will definitely NOT fly AA while this rule is in effect.”
“I do not think that a fee should be applied to the first bag. They have people over a barrel, and they are using that to their advantage. They know that people need clothing and other incidentals to travel and they are just going to dig the airline into a deeper hole since people will be so resentful, they will not travel on them if at all possible. I am a travel agent and I will not travel on them for that reason.
— Mike, Hutchinson, Kansas
“All they are doing is forcing more people to carry on luggage, [w]hich makes boarding longer and more troublesome. I fly mainly American, but will start using other carriers.”
— Michael, New York, N.Y.
“I have no problem with a fee for a second bag (raise that to $40 if you want), but charging me to check one piece of luggage? Well, the fee to me just became $0 because I will not be flying on their airline.”
— Lucrezia, Berkely, Calif.
“This is outrageous. They are a large-scale, global-size company: They need to deal with this type of ‘contingencies’ (rising fuel prices) in their financial planning ahead of time — NOT trying to compensate every ‘cut’ in revenue with spiking and inadmissible fees to customers. A $15 fee for the FIRST bag? I fly San Francisco-Washington-Barcelona often — always with AA. I will NOT do that ever again. And they should be more cautious about passing inadmissible fees on to customers: The offer for long-distance flights to Europe is never-ending. We certainly have options, so they should know better.”
— Gretchen, Wisconsin
“I am not shocked at anything in our economic crisis. What I am surprised about, though, is the huge amount of money the executives of American Airlines are taking home, and the huge bonuses they have chosen to give themselves, along with letting their own employees go. If they have any integrity, they will vote to decrease their own pay and refuse to take any bonuses during this difficult time.”
— James, Emporia, Kansas
“This is the worst year for airline travel in most of our lifetimes! Grounded planes, canceled flights, the FAA's lax oversight and sweeping reports under the rug and then the FAA goes overboard in the opposite direction because wire clamps are [a quarter-inch] too far apart. Baggage is lost or damaged. Forget about writing the company for a refund or a replacement ticket. Now this! What are we supposed to do, wear all our clothes on top of each other?
— Jeremy, Las Vegas
“I'm a bit torn on the recent announcement by AA. On one hand, I understand the need to recoup monies lost due to extremely high oil prices. On the other hand, I believe that this surprising move is only going to alienate travelers and push them to utilize other airlines. I don't foresee the other airlines following suit; smarter airlines will capitalize by not charging the baggage fee and make up for losses with the increase in business.
— Nodarei, Tacoma, Wash.