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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:

Dec 12, 2012 6:38PM
I'm old enough to remember when flying was a hassle free pleasure at reasonable cost.
Dec 12, 2012 5:50PM
I simply don't understand why airlines don't have it set up as "one free checked or carryon bag".  Watching people try to stuff oversized luggage on the overhead is frustrating and easy to solve.  If they allowed one check bag in lieu of one free carryon, planes would load faster, the attendents wouldn't end up with muscle strains, and we could all get/get off faster
Dec 12, 2012 6:13PM
I simply do NOT fly any other airline than Southwest, I have gotten soo tired of the games the other airlines have played for too long to milk more money out of passengers with the laundry list of names for fees.  SIMPLE
Dec 12, 2012 6:11PM
I can't figure out why anyone would fly AA. It is the absolute worst way to travel.
Dec 12, 2012 6:49PM

This is so unfair.  If they want you to "buy" this type of insurance then if the plane is late or they have to reschedule you then the flight should be free!  Why is it ok if they screw up and if you need to change you forfeit all your money?


The Next President!

Dec 12, 2012 7:21PM
Dec 12, 2012 6:24PM

"That's what customers want."

Can't wait for there full of sh..t fee!

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.
Dec 12, 2012 7:36PM
the airlines keep raising fees on the customers, that why I prefer to travel less, I think they are trying to scam their customers for more moneys, no one is doing anything about this, I will not fly anywhere because of this
Dec 12, 2012 9:48PM
It never fails. Every time one of these articles about airline fees come out, you ALWAYS have these same type of people express their "genius" solution to the issue by saying something to the effect of "Don't fly". Usually, by someone who never travels much or anywhere, anyway. And, even if they do it's RARELY, if ever, over 1000 miles. Like, people such as me, usually travel.
Do YOU want to spend 2 days driving on some highway? I don't.
Or, another one is, "Because of the fees, I only travel Southwest". The problem being, of course, that Southwest doesn't have much in the way of international service. In fact, it's practically non-existent.
So, what are you supposed to do?
Drive to Paris? Take a ship ride to South America that takes a week?

The fact is, is that these airline fees are here to stay. They're profitable for the airlines and the more these airlines continue to merge with each other, your choices as a consumer are going to be reduced even further.
So, being aware of this, you don't cut your nose off to spite your face.
You just have to do your research a little more and try to minimize the amount of fees that these airlines can ding you with, as much as you can.

It's a lot more preferable to staying at home.

Dec 13, 2012 10:51AM
What's next - pay toilets on planes?????
Dec 13, 2012 12:31PM

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

Dec 12, 2012 8:21PM
I can proudly say that I have contributed $0 to them...The airlines in America are all absolutely terrible and part of the reason I will always fly with international carries (as I live abroad) and never think of giving them a dime. I will just laugh at all you suckers who are being taken while I am flying with airline(s) with superb customer service, flight attendants that are not whales, free food and beverages (alcoholic included) and no fees for checking a bag that should be included in the already ridiculous prices US carries have. 
Dec 13, 2012 10:24AM
This would be worth it for international travel. I see it as insurance for the unsure!
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 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 9:05AM
I agree with Steve RA  I only fly southwest and if they dont go to the airport where im going ill use the money i saved and rent a car and still come out ahead
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 10:40AM
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 7:36AM
Frontier has been using this tier system of ticketing for quite a while now, so AA's introduction of this system isn't exactly new. 
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