Cuts Coming to American’s Premium Cabin Baggage Allowance

Keeping up with the Jones used to be a way to talk about different folks trying to one up each other in terms of bigger or better stuff. These days in airline world it seems like such changes are more frequently cuts to match where the others have trimmed offerings. American Airlines is the latest to play the game, quietly announcing today that it is reducing the premium cabin baggage allowance for passengers in the forward cabin on 2-class planes. This affects both long-haul service and flights within the Americas.


The move is described as “in line with US competitors” which is true, but that doesn’t really make it any better for consumers. And considering that the third bag fee is NOT cheap, well, matching the competition may prove a tough pill for passengers to swallow.


I suppose the silver lining in all of this is two-fold:

  1. Executive Platinum members still get their 3rd bag free so the loyalty program now has more benefits than just buying the expensive tickets; and,
  2. Not too many people take 3 bags when they travel so hopefully the overall impact of this is slim.

Still, that the company made the change means it thinks there’s money to be had from the move. And the Senate just rejected an effort to regulate fees like this so relief isn’t coming from that side. But when the “relief” offered is to pick another airline and they all have the same rules that does say something about what the competitive landscape really is.

I don’t think airlines should be in the business of playing cargo carrier for the passengers flying above; they all offer cargo services if you need to move lots and lots of stuff. But, damn, I wish there was something more going on han just all trying to be the same all the time. It is boring, and rarely good for travelers.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. I will go out on a limb and say that I don’t think this is 100% driven by revenue. As you note few of us really require 3 bags per person even for a long vacation, so this is more about disincentivizing people from filling up the hold. Extra bags cost the airline money for extra labor, longer turns, and of course extra fuel. The biggest losers here are really the corporate travelers to trade shows and the wealthy celebrities who can’t be bothered to pack light. Ironically neither will feel the pinch or be disincentivized.

    In any case this is the type of “giveback” that most of us are happy to accept because it is unlikely to affect us.

  2. One more group that could be impacted are athletes. Some sports require more baggage than others.

    Many amateur cyclists, hockey players, speed skaters, etc… will be footing the extra fees. And even Olympians in many sports are already living below the poverty line chasing their dream. They will be impacted the most.

      1. You are right about that- most amateur athletes don’t fly in premium cabins. Unless they have a high-paying day gig and this is their hobby, in which case the expense is probably minor to them.

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