Hold tight, folks. American said this morning that it needs to tighten the belt big-time. What that means is that it will start charging $15 to most passengers to check a first bag, and that it plans to cut its schedule by as much as 12 percent. American also said it would raise other fees from $5 to $50 for a range of services like reservation help to oversized bags.
The carrier's decision on baggage comes just a month after it decided to join other major carriers in charging $25 for a second checked bag. This means if you arrive with two bags the tab will be $40 each way. The baggage fees will kick in for flights booked starting June 15. But it won't affect some American frequent-flier program members or those paying full fare or international passengers. American put the details on their site.
Delta reacted almost immediately, saying it wasn't planning to adopt the first-bag fee, but United said it would consider it.
Ned Raynolds of American said that the airline will take 40 to 45 big jets and 35 to 40 regional ones out of service in the fourth quarter, so this will affect schedules for regular American flights as well as those of its regional American Eagle service.
The airline hasn't decided which routes it will cut. But the odds that Logan will be affected appear pretty strong, as American serves about 17 percent of the airport's travelers, behind only Delta and JetBlue.
Amid fuel costs that have risen 84 percent in the last year, Raynolds said American was in the process of "unbundling'' services: Basically, offering a menu of services -- some of them formerly free -- and letting travelers choose which ones they want and are willing to pay for.
"As much as we love our customers,'' Raynolds said, "we need to survive and thrive in the current climate.''
Why do we always hurt the ones we love? Did I hear somebody say, "Ouch?''