American Reduces Free Baggage Allowance For First Class Passengers

American has just announced some changes to their checked baggage policy for premium cabin passengers.

Currently all American first & business class passengers receive three free checked bags, each weighing up to 70 pounds.

For tickets bought starting March 29, 2016, passengers traveling in two cabin first class and in international business class will only receive two free checked bags.

American-Airlines-Checked-Baggage

Passengers traveling in international first class, as well as Executive Platinum members, will continue to receive a third free checked bag.

American-Checked-Baggage-Policy

American reasons that this is in line with the policies of their competitors, which is indeed true. Delta and United allow their domestic first class and international business class passengers to check two bags weighing up to 70 pounds to most destinations, and I guess American thought they weren’t seeing much of a return on their more generous policy.

Still, as a precedent I find this a bit strange. While we’re seeing airlines cut frequent flyer benefits, other than that airlines are investing in their products at the moment. Cutting the free baggage allowance for premium passengers at a time when oil prices are as low as they are is disappointing.

In looking at American’s baggage policy, I also can’t help but note how tough it is to figure out that premium passengers can take bags weighing up to 70 pounds. The checked baggage policy page says nothing at all about it, but rather just the oversize and overweight baggage page makes reference to the increased weight limit.

Bottom line

This is a negative change for sure, and unsurprisingly simply matches the policies of Delta and United. On the plus side, at least Executive Platinum members and international first class passengers continue to receive three free checked bags.

Will you be impacted by this baggage policy change?

Comments

  1. This is huge for me. I frequently carry 3-4 bags and use the first class 70lbs rule. It save a ton of money vs shipping and reduces customs issues vs regular shipping.

  2. How much more money does AA actually think they will be making with his policy change? Seriously, how much more?
    This to me seems to be the work of someone trying to scour their company to find ways to save pennies or make more pennies. No amount is too small. A negative way of increasing profits by squeezing nickles out of your best customers.

  3. Sounds to me that people like Dan who abuse the privilege are causing cash strapped airlines to change their policy. And remember airlines buy their fuel at bulk, predetermined pretty crazy and are time locked into that price.

  4. When will people understand that airlines set prices based on demand, not cost? I don’t understand how it makes sense to cut the baggage allowance, but it makes even less sense to so much as mention oil price when talking about it.

  5. Seriously, how much stuff do you really need? I can’t imagine every taking more than my one 21 in roller bag. That’s all I ever take and that includes 3-4 wk trips.

  6. Well, Deborah, when we went to Miami for 2 weeks, we took 3 * 23kg on the way there and 6 * 23 kg on the way back.

    Obviously, that’s cause there is literally nothing in Venezuela shops. But with plenty of space, you can do wonders.

  7. Doesn’t affect me regardless of which class I am flying. I’m surprised anyone travels with 3 bags – unless they are some carrying work related gear like pelican cases.

    Never mind the fact folks in coach can’t afford to pay the bag fees for even one bag. Baggage fees for even one (should be courtesy) bag is what causes a shortage in overhead and foot space to avoid paying, not to mention longer boarding/deplaning processes.

  8. Could American be trying to make room for more (paid) cargo? Don’t know if cargo is an airline cash cow or not.

  9. Most (not all) AA folks in the First Class lines don’t worry TOO much about the weight. I’ve even had them tell me that they give First Class slack on this.

    The only time I could imagine checking 3 bags at 70 pounds would be if I was moving somewhere or going for a long stay like say an entire Summer.

  10. Interestingly enough, I’ve had several trips last year where I needed to check 3 bags and flew AA for that sole benefit, despite having to connect (hub captive). I guess that no longer makes sense.

  11. Comes in handy when you are going on a vacation and want to take your golf clubs and snorkeling gear.

  12. I live in Guatemala and visit the states every summer during school holidays. I often bring back many items from my storage at home… But I have tickets for this summer purchased before this change. Anyone have advice for the best way to prevent issues when I check the bags in Seattle on my way to Guatemala via Dallas? Ideas for how well gate agents will be about the previous rules being in effect up for tickets bought before March 29?

  13. @Airplane Jim abusing the privilege? That’s silly. No one is abusing any privilege. If they say you can have 3 @ 70lbs each and you take 3 @ 70 lbs each…that’s that.

  14. I believe that Delta’s policy is actually more generous for elites, as all elites get 3 free checked bags in first/business (not just Diamond/Platinum). Not sure about United’s policy.

  15. since not all take 4 bags of 70lbs why not please AA, executive platinum members who are loyal to AA? cost or savings is minimum. when i travel i travel many times with only carry on . when i travel virgin Islands i have taken 4 and i pay for business class ticket to guarantee that get this perk.
    I guess many like me will no longer pay for business class ticket and wait for the free upgrade.
    old saying penny wise and pound foolish .
    Not the way to treat your best customers American.

  16. Won’t this complicate things for customers who are connecting to onwards British Airways/Iberia flights in first or business class? Both BA and IB offer 3 bags at 32 kgs for their business AND first class customers. Will IATA most-significant-carrier rules continue to apply?

  17. @AvGeek, that was my first thought as well, i.e. the connecting domestic AA flights coming into the U.S. from a 3 bag 70lbs allowance intl. flight. I frequently use my allowance of 3 bags maxed (and then some, plus the 2 carry ons allowed, at times I’ve hauled back 260lbs combined!) at 70lbs. So say you’re flying on one PNR F JAL to ORD and then connect AA F/J domestic, then what? Two separate PNRs you’re out of luck as has been the case. I would think that if you fly AA F into the states and then connect AA domestic, even if it’s on economy, on one PNR, they would honor the 3 bag max allowance, but… I have never once had a problem in the past with baggage allowance, even on mixed carriers on one PNR and ref. the MSC rule. Particularly the separate rule that governs baggage allowance origin of into/out of the U.S under FAA rules. Although things are changing so quickly and the degradation of service is rapid I don’t know how to follow it anymore. Next they’ll charge for carrying a wallet in your back pocket, 8oz. max weight!

  18. I was surprised to see 70 lbs … I lived and worked in Japan from ’03 – ’07 and flew AA exclusively for home visits etc. Always flew AA F class. Somewhere around ’05 or ’06 they reduced the 70 lbs to 50 lbs. When did it jump back up for international travel, or is that a typo?

  19. It’s always very interesting when you read people’s comment’s on abuse of privilege (what are you talking about?) and who would ever need to take 3 bags?… Well not everyone is the same, and needs differ! Honestly, it just sounds very selfish!

    Just because YOU never have this need, does not mean others do not from time to time.

  20. We travel a bit between 2 residences in the U.S. in paid First Class.

    To move items between the two residences, we typically would max out have 3 bags each– with the weights varying. In 2014, we shifted almost all of our travel from AA to DL in response to AA eliminating OW Explorer Awards, and free stopovers at the gateway on awards— with AA literally giving no notice overnight of these being eliminated.

    It’s sad that effective March 29th, I’ll be allowed 3 Free Bags on DL when flying paid F for being Silver Medallion [lowest elite level on DL], versus mid-tier AA Platinum not getting any extra allowance on paid F in AA.

    Di$count Dougie just keeps the cuts coming.

    Kudos to AA’s [legacy] pilots for being frustrated with how the airline is treating its customers.

    With sAAver awards disappearing— rapidly— and AA’s award devaluation coming up in less than a week, the differentiation between AAdvantage and SkyMiles is becoming even slimmer.

    AA: I’ve gotta hand it to you— you’ve sealed my switch in 2016 to continue flying Delta. [and never in a million years did I ever think I’d utter this]

  21. Hi Lucky,

    I wanted to book flight from CDG-DOH-SYD on Qatar, the BA website shows 2 seats, but AA agent couldn’t pull out the seat. What should I do?

  22. @Lucky sez: “This is a negative change for sure, and unsurprisingly simply matches the policies of Delta and United. ”

    The tendency to try to make one’s preferred program seem better or less offensive with false or unverified claims is irksome. AA has been gutting elite benefits since they completed their merger. SWUs cut by half; awards charts, gutted. Now the baggage benefit has been gutted.

    The claim that the latest devaluation matches DL or UA policy is simply wrong, at least with respect to the UA policy. Here is what’s right.

    Complimentary checked baggage allowance for economy tickets [5]
    Silver: 1 bag at 50 lbs. (23 kg)
    Gold: 2 bags at 70 lbs. (32 kg) each5
    Platinum: 3 bags at 70 lbs. (32 kg) each
    1K: 3 bags at 70 lbs. (32 kg) each

    It was gutted only for Golds [3 own to 2, which seemed about right to me]. But with members of the US air cartel copying one another, I would not be surprised if UA soon guts this benefit too.

    [5] For United Economy® tickets issued or re-issued before February 1, 2015, Premier Gold members are eligible for three complimentary checked bags at 70 pounds (32 kg) each. For United Economy tickets issued or re-issued on or after February 1, 2015, Premier Gold members are eligible for two complimentary checked bags at 70 pounds (32 kg) each with the exception of travel to and from select international markets, where Premier Gold members are eligible for three complimentary checked bags at 70 pounds (32 kg) each. To determine specific checked baggage service charges, please use the Baggage Calculator.

  23. HUGE for me. When I travel, I stay at a place for several weeks and need to bring extra stuff. American is beginning to look like Spirit Airlines. Both airlines have lost my loyalty due to all their nickel and dimeing.

  24. As an international educator, I save my miles for the sole point of moving from Point A to Point B. I am 6 feet tall, and my clothes take up more room than most. I tend to buy in summer at home and bring things back to my place of work overseas, currently China. It is far easier to bring it on a plane than deal with a shipping company. This year I am flying home to CA and will bring back 3 suitcases of presents to friends and family. Good thing I am flying back on ANA first class and can then bring back 3 suitcases. This new policy makes me angry enough to switch loyalty.

  25. Glad this happened now. I just flew from the US to Spain (moving back here) with a baby, a wife, a cat, 12 checked items (3 pieces of luggage, 7 cardboard boxes, a stroller, a car seat), too many carry-on items (2 roll-aboard bags, a diaper bag, the cat, a backpack with 4 laptops), and a total overage charge of $200.

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