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American Airlines has a new kind of fee

You can now pay more for your ticket to avoid fees for checking your first bag or changing your reservation.

By Karen Datko Dec 12, 2012 4:34PM

Image: Airport check-in (© Digital Vision/Getty Images/Getty Images)Just when you thought you had the multitude of airline fees figured out, American Airlines has upended the game by introducing a new way to price tickets.


As of today on, you can pay an extra $68 or more for round-trip tickets to prevent you from having to spend $150 later if you need to change your flight. The new add-on fees are a bit like buying insurance.


American Airlines, which is working its way through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, says it's responding to what its customers want. (Companies always say that, don't they?) The Chicago Tribune put it another way: "The move is consistent with an airline industry movement toward more fees and upselling extras." In other words, they've come up with another way to get more money out of us.


These new choices are available only on flights in the lower 48 states and only if you book through or a travel agent:

  • Choice tickets. You pay for your ticket, and you're charged extra fees to check a bag or change a flight.
  • Choice Essential. For an extra $68 round trip, you get "Group 1" boarding, one free checked bag, and no extra fee if you need to change your reservation.
  • Choice Plus. An extra $88 on top of your round-trip fare will get you all the pluses that come with Choice Essential, plus bonus frequent-flier miles, a free "premium beverage," and "same-day travel flexibility."

Another option, called "Fully Flexible," makes your fare fully refundable, with the cost depending on the flights.


The benefits of these new choices to members of AAdvantage and other elite flier groups are different because those fliers already get special perks.

So, are these upgrades worth the money? The first checked bag on AA's domestic flights is $25 each way. Group 1 boarding can be purchased for $9. A beer is $6, and other alcoholic drinks cost $7.


If you're the type who just can't seem to stick with your travel plans, it could be the way to go. On the other hand, if you've never had to pay a change fee and you don't check bags and refuse to pay those inflated airline drink prices, it's probably not worth it. 


U.S. airlines collect $3.4 billion in checked-bag fees and $2.4 billion in cancellation and change fees a year. How much have you contributed to that?


More on MSN Money:

Mar 26, 2013 7:53PM
Tthe article is not exactley correct because AAdvantage members do not get any of these perks..they have to pay just like non-members.
Dec 24, 2012 11:23AM
i remember when i was young, and it was cheaper to fly.
Dec 13, 2012 3:30PM

Wow! Yes! what a ripoff! Everybody is a ripoff!  Now, if you will figure it carfully you will find it is actually cheaper to fly than drive. If your time is worth nothing, and you do not mind sitting behind the wheel for hours on end, and your car was free, and all you have to do is buy gas, airline tickets are often less than just fuel. Even though jet fuel is $6.00 a gallon. A 737 costs 10 million bucks.

Those of you whining are whining about everything. So, why do you not just drive yourself to a deserted island and cry to yourself .Or, since the airlines are raking in sooooo much money and ripping you off, WHY NOT JUST BUY YOUR OWN AIRPLANE AND FLY IT YOURSELF !!!!  News flash!!!! THIS IS THE UNITED STATES. NO ONE FORCES YOU TO BUY A TICKET. You can do what ever you want!  You can smoke pot, gamble away your paycheck, have sex with anybody you want and no one can stop you !!!  So, then, GO BUY AN AIRPLANE  Its pretty easy, just turn the key and start 'er up. Blast offf into the sky. pull back to go up, push foreward to go down.

Dec 13, 2012 3:25PM
Dec 13, 2012 3:25PM
So why should I pay Delta for what Southwest provides me with the cost of a regular ticket?

Perhaps this explains which airline is running under bankruptcy protection.

Dec 13, 2012 3:23PM
I refuse to fly American Airlines.  If there is another carrier available, I will always take that carrier.
Dec 13, 2012 2:56PM

So for an extra $20.00, I get a FREE "premium beverage???"


If it's truly free, extra money wouldn't be flying out of my wallet.

Dec 13, 2012 2:53PM
Thank God my husband works for Southwest, and I don't have this hassle. I fly free, hop on, and get to my destination. Such a wonderful blessing to have.
Dec 13, 2012 2:12PM

American Airlines should not be in any bankruptcy proceedings, its fights are always packed and I  am  grateful to report, their in- flight service is great.  The fight attendants, which provide the airline with a human face  are really great at their job--says I-- and make long flights easier to complete.

That extra charge is a hook you can swallow or not,  I never do.

Dec 13, 2012 2:02PM
Very few Airline executives seem to understand the concept of meeting the unmet need with clever innovation.  So instead they create the unmet need by implementing a large fee just before boarding and then offer the innovation of a smaller fee up front to avoid the big one.  I'll bet they worked real hard inventing that innovation.

Dec 13, 2012 12:44PM
Since our Gvt hasn't defined what an airline ticket covers the airlines are free to put whatever fees they want on us and we have no legal recourse.  Why do we support this gvt again?

1. Provide for the common defense.  Maybe, seems more like they're making a target out of ex-pat Americans.

2.  Promote the general welfare.  Clear failure unless you interpret this to mean "Increase the welfare roles".

3.  Secure the Blessings of liberty.  Not only is this a clear failure but our gvt is actually enacting policy/legislation to destroy our liberties (i.e. DHS, TSA, Patriot act, "Corporations are People", etc.).

So is there a way to fix this w/o a violent apocalypse?

Dec 13, 2012 12:31PM

Airports/Airplanes are like tetanus boosters.  I take them only when I absolutely have to.

Dec 13, 2012 12:14PM
Why can't they just figure out their costs and charge accordingly. Selling airline seats the way people sell cars, that always gives one the feeling that your getting screwed is no way to run an airline. To be honest I never could figure why they sell cars that way. It makes no sense.
Dec 13, 2012 10:51AM
What's next - pay toilets on planes?????
Dec 13, 2012 10:46AM
I used to work in the Airline industry. American is always the first airline to try to raise ticket prices, and since fees have started, the first airline to try new fees to bleed even more money out of passengers. If they disappear from the industry it can only benefit the consumer.

Just raise the damn ticket prices to a resonable level where you can make a profit and include the stuff that was always included before...charging for checked bags..sheesh. Charging a fee so that you could possibly avoid being charged another fee. If the FAA would allow it American would charge to use the toilet like Ryanair.
Dec 13, 2012 10:44AM
Doesn't bother me...don't fly. I can almost drive to Houston as fast instead of waiting and waiting at the local airport.
Dec 13, 2012 10:40AM
I haven't flown since they've started this stupid fees. Nor will I anytime soon. Unless I am going overseas there are plenty of alternative ways to travel.
Dec 13, 2012 10:27AM
When are you going to wake up to what the 1% are doing to you? Why do we always have to get to the point when we will yell, Off With Their Heads!
Dec 13, 2012 10:24AM
This would be worth it for international travel. I see it as insurance for the unsure!
Dec 13, 2012 9:24AM
How about this? Airlines charge a price that includes 2 bags and all other costs and just compete on efficiency and customer satisfaction? How about when they tell you a round trip flight costs $299 it ACTUALLY COSTS $299! That is really what people want, not another angle to feel like they were ripped off.
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