I’ve got absolutely nothing against an airline getting “bailed out” by a government, but I’m in the camp that the country cutting the check, or its people, deserve something in return. An equity stake, stronger consumer protections, a free beer next time we fly – who cares – just something.

In the most recent round of US airline bailouts, which saw $25 billion diverted to airlines, the big US airlines managed to get their hands on the cash with few strings attached – and no, there’s definitely no free beer coming your way, either.

As a thank you to the American people, American Airlines chose to showcase just how entirely out of touch it is with the realities of the world, raising checked bag fees on international flights to $150 round trip, on the airline’s cheapest tickets.

For all new transatlantic basic economy tickets issued on, or after April 21st, 2020, American will charge $75 each way, equating to $150 round trip. On a great basic economy fare, that’s not far off what the entire trip would cost without a bag. The policy marks a $15 change in the previous $60 fees charged on transatlantic – aka USA to Europe – basic economy tickets.

Nice touch, American.. nice touch.

It’s a “free” country, and American has every right to set the prices, but gouging passengers less than a week after US taxpayers funded a $5.8 billion assistance deal for the airline seems like a kick in the nether regions.

Use Miles Or Pay Up

Wondering how to travel to Europe on the cheap, but not end up paying a $150 round trip fee, just for a bag to fly?

The simplest answer would be learn how to properly pack your carry on, so that you can maximize the space and avoid checking a bag.

Outside of that, using your American Airlines AAdvantage miles to book a ticket still includes a bag, and that would mean hardly any cash outlay. It’s also absolutely worth checking the difference in price between basic economy which doesn’t include a checked bag, and standard economy which does.

Often the price difference will be less than the cost of paying for a checked bag, which makes it a no brainer. Do yourself a favor and always glance across the price columns, because you never know what you’ll find – sometimes flat bed business class is lower than premium economy.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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6 Comments

  1. A lot of people hoped there should have been some “pro passenger” strings attached to the bailout. Probably wasn’t realistically going to happen, but it would’ve been nice.

  2. I think Doug may have had a few too many shots when he and the Magic 8 Ball made this clever decision.

  3. I get it that airlines are all looking at ways to save cash in today’s climate… but also looking a bit more forward, ways to up their revenues in the period just after we resume flying en mass again.

    But… I also recognize that nearly every single action, rule, spending decision, employee policy, etc that an airline like AA makes it even proposes, will come under immediate public scrutiny…. and probably so from “lens” of a fair percentage that aren’t AAs most forgiving or sympathetic audience either…

    So, I CAN see WHY it was done ….. I CAN see a business case being made for it..: BUT… I can’t for the life of me see how this move was approved — RIGHT NOW — right here today, given it comes immediately on the heels of a less-than-unanimously popular sizable public funds cash injection (bail out or whatever you choose to call it)….

    Like it or not, I do think airlines, like most all businesses of any real size, have to be aware of their public perception – and factor that into their business decisions and timing.

  4. Almost, and not quite but almost as bad as BAs f*ck the customer approach in recent years… Perhaps AA are simply following their lead?

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