Transportation & Logistics

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American Axes Excess Fees for Oversize Equipment Amid Requests from Athletes

29 May, 2019

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

Good news for owners of sports events where athletes commonly carry large and awkwardly shaped equipment: one airline just eliminated its excess fees for oversized bags.

American Airlines announced  last week that it had axed additional fees for checking large sports equipment and musical instruments on domestic flights. Previously classified as “oversize baggage,” such items used to carry a $150 (per piece, each way) charge.

The move came just in advance of the kickoff for summer travel season and is expected to make life easier for those traveling to competitions with sports equipment including surfboards, bicycles, skis, snowboards and other large items – as well as those traveling with the marching band and bringing large equipment such as tubas.

That doesn’t mean passengers get out of fees entirely when flying American; each will still cost $30 each way. They also have to be 50 pounds or less – something that may take some equipment out of the equation already.

American said in comments that it had changed its policies “based on feedback from customers and employees.”

“American…will ensure that customers can more easily pursue active and healthy lifestyles wherever their travels may take them, without having to pay additional oversize bag fees,” the announcement noted.

Certain items, including antlers (um, antlers?), hang gliders, scuba tanks and kite/windsurfing gear, will still be subject to the flat $150 fee because they require special handling.

International travel can cause (expensive) variances in this policy, as can some other factors. Full details are listed on American’s luggage policy.

Southwest Airlines’ enormously successful “bags fly free” campaign has resulted in many airlines trying to recapture some of the market share (although excess, outsize and overweight baggage on Southwest also incur fees).

While American might be the first airline to ditch oversize baggage fees, it’s a sure bet that none of the other airlines will stay out of the equation too long, particularly amid the growth of youth travel sports. And American’s strategic placement of its announcement – just prior to Memorial Day – was well-timed.

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