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American Airlines Introduces Baggage Fees on International Basic Economy Flights

Basic economy passengers on flights outside of the Americas will now be charged $75 for one item of checked baggage, with further charges for extra bags

by Fergus Cole

June 9, 2023

Photo: American Airlines gates. Courtesy of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

Without warning, American Airlines has dropped free checked baggage allowances from its basic economy fares on long-haul international flights, becoming the first major U.S. carrier to charge for checked bags on all economy routes.

The new charges were introduced on Wednesday, June 7, and will apply to all basic economy passengers on long-haul international flights outside North and South America, including flights to Asia, India, Australia, New Zealand, and Israel.

Passengers purchasing basic economy tickets on these routes will now be charged $75 for one standard-sized checked bag. Further charges will be applied for extra baggage, including a $100 charge for a second checked bag and a $200 charge for a third. Passengers are still permitted one standard carry-on bag and a personal item on all of the airline’s basic economy flights.

Photo: Main Cabin. Courtesy of American Airlines

Luckily for people who have already booked international flights with American Airlines, the charges won’t apply to any bookings made up until June 6.

American Airlines claims the move will simplify the booking process for its customers. Still, it’s likely to cause ire among its passengers and frequent flyers and give them more reason to fly with another carrier.

However, people making bookings with American Airlines may now find it cheaper to purchase a ticket in the main cabin, where checked baggage fees don’t yet apply, than a basic economy fare, so comparing overall costs on each type of ticket is more important than ever.

“We are simplifying our product offerings to make it easier for customers when they are shopping for travel,” said American Airlines. “With this change, our Basic Economy product will include all of the same features whether a customer is purchasing it for a domestic or international itinerary.”

With these new charges now applied, American Airlines has become the first major airline in the U.S. to charge for checked baggage across all its basic economy products.

Photo: American Airlines, Airbus A319. Courtesy of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

The carrier’s domestic flights within the U.S. and its territories and flights to Mexico, Canada, Central America, and South America all have their own fees for checked bags, although at a lower price than the new international charges.

United Airlines and Delta Air Lines charge for checked baggage on most of their domestic and international services. However, they both still offer one free checked bag on transpacific routes.

In a further blow to American Airlines’ basic economy passengers and frequent flyers, the airline recently updated its AAdvantage scheme, reducing the number of points gained for each dollar spent on basic economy fares from five points per dollar to two.