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American Airlines Checked Baggage Fees

So, if you’ve read the newspaper, the internet, or even turned on the TV, you know that American Airlines plans to start charging passengers for ANY checked bag, effective immediately. Everyone in the press is up in arms about this fee, and passengers are none too happy about the change. One is never happy about paying for a service that was once free, but people seem to be losing sight of the big picture here. You know how it costs you $80 to fill up your SUV these days? Well, how much do you think it costs to fill up a Boeing jet? The added fees in recent months are a direct result of the skyrocketing fuel costs. If you pause to think for a second, which would you rather have – a fee for checking your bag or airlines canceling flights because the cost/benefit ratio is skewed and they are actually LOSING money by operating with the exhorbant fuel costs.

I had the opportunity to speak to an acquaintance who is a pilot for a major U.S. airline about this situation. His concern is that passengers are going to mistake American Airlines for ALL U.S. airlines. As of this time, this change will only affect you if you’re traveling on American. That’s not to say that every other carrier may follow suit by tomorrow, but if you’re traveling on Southwest or Continental or Delta, this just isn’t your problem right now.

I’m interested in why American doesn’t just call a spade a spade, and just call the new fee a fuel surcharge and assess all passengers. This plan is going to wreak havoc on already congested airport security lanes, and it seems to unfairly target passengers who opt NOT to cram their gigantic bags in to the overhead bins. It most certainly will have an impact on smaller commuter plans, which unfairly affects people from smaller cities.

Yesterday oil rose to more than $130 a barrel. Airline employees are facing the very real possibility of losing their jobs in light of the costs. The C.E.O.’s aren’t using your $15 to take a Caribbean vacation. They’re using the funds to stay afloat. Think about all of those passengers who have been stranded recently, due to airlines going out of business. I’d much prefer to shell out $15 than be stuck in Omaha because my airline couldn’t afford the fuel costs.

According to the AP article, “It’s ridiculous,” said Louise Schum, a 23-year-old student from Steamboat, Colo., on a 10-hour layover at Miami International Airport. “Charging for luggage is the cutoff line.” What the hell are you thinking Schum? As a student, you should understand that a business can’t have costs that exceed revenue.

Here are the details: As of now, American Airlines will charge $15 each way for the first piece of checked luggage. This fee does not apply to passengers who pay full-price for tickets, elite members of its frequent-flier program or people traveling overseas. So it’s basically for those of you who want to pay $150 for a round trip ticket on Orbitz or Priceline.

Have a little perspective. If you can afford to travel, you can afford to help cover the fuel costs.