American Airlines, US Airways Merger Means New Policies, More Baggage Fees

Change is inevitable in a new relationship, and often one partner will give a little more than the other. That appears to be the case with the $17.7 billion American Airlines and US Airways merger. To better align with its new partner, American announced today it’s making more changes; this time to its baggage fees and frequent-flier rule.

Since the two airlines merged in December, creating the American Airlines Group, Inc , they have been rearranging their standards to better reflect the other’s policies, The Wall Street Journal reports.

American announced that fliers will be charged $35 for their first checked bag for flights to Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America. Previously, the carrier allowed one free checked bag per passenger on those 140 daily flights. The change applies to tickets beginning today.

Additionally, American adopted US Airways’ practice of charging customers $100 for a second checked bag on trans-Atlantic flights, an increase from the previous $60 fee.

However, American did announce some good news for travelers. The airline will drop its $70 fee for second checked bags on service to South America. The change means travelers will get two free checked bags on South American flights, a policy inline with US Airways.

Don’t worry, frequent-fliers aren’t being left out of the changes either. American said passengers who purchase tickets with frequent-flier miles or buy full-fare economy tickets will lose their ability to check two free bags on domestic flights. That is unless they have elite status.

In one of the more anticipated announcements, the two airlines aligned their redemption rates for frequent-flier awards: American will offer some one-way seats for 20,000 frequent-flier miles for about half the year. That’s 5,000 fewer miles than the previous policy.

For the remainder of the year, which is usually busier for airlines, the airline will increase the redemption rate to 30,000 miles. For the busiest travel days the redemption rate will be 50,000 miles.

On the flip side, US Airways announced it will upgrade its premium-cabin product to American’s standards by adding new meals on longer flights, noise-canceling headphones and a wider selection of movies and television shows.

Tuesday’s announcements follow a number of changes enacted earlier this year. In February, American announced it would be discontinuing bereavement fares. The decision was made to create a single, consistent program for American and US Airways.

In late January, American Airlines Group Inc. announced that American Eagle Airlines, Inc., its regional jet service carrier, will soon be known as Envoy.

The first phase of the mega-merger began in January when the airlines announced customers would see an “over communication” of changes.

Several of the those first changes involved combining or rewriting airline policies. Changes include no longer allowing military members to board before first class, instead the two groups will board at the same time, and families will no longer have the option to board early.

American Airlines Changes Bag Fees, Frequent-Flier Rules to Reflect Merger [The Wall Street Journal]