This morning, American Airlines announced it would charge $15 for the FIRST piece of checked baggage. This goes a step beyond where any other airline has gone before. Currently, most U.S. airlines are allowing the first bag to be checked for free, but charging for other bags.

You can expect this service to disappear entirely in the face of $130/barrel oil (and climbing higher, I’m afraid).

By encouraging passengers to carry on their luggage, American will have either fly lighter planes (which uses less fuel), or it will fill the belly of the flying beast with paying cargo. Either way, they win.

Of course, if you’re a frequent flyer, you won’t be paying those fees. Here is the exceptions list:

  1. For the first checked bag, customers who buy a ticket before June 15, 2008, or who fly before June 15, 2008
  2. For the second checked bag, customers who purchased a ticket before May 12, 2008
  3. Customers traveling on an international itinerary to destinations beyond the U.S., the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, or Canada
  4. Customers who purchase full-fare tickets in Economy Class
  5. Customers who purchase Business or First Class tickets
  6. Customers flying on AA codeshare flights not operated by American Airlines, American Eagle or AmericanConnection
  7. Customers traveling on government or military fares
  8. Military passengers on active duty
  9. AAdvantage Executive Platinum, AAdvantage Platinum or AAdvantage Gold members
    oneworld Alliance Emerald, Sapphire or Ruby members
  10. Customers flying on the same reservation as an AAdvantage Executive Platinum, AAdvantage Platinum or AAdvantage Gold member or oneworld Alliance Emerald, Sapphire or Ruby member regardless of frequent flier status or fare type (not applicable to group bookings)
    AAnytime Economy Class AAdvantage award tickets, MileSAAver(SM) or AAnytime First and 11. Business Class AAdvantage award tickets
  11. First and Business Class upgrades confirmed prior to check in
  12. AAirpass travel

May 21, 2008