American Airlines Checked Baggage

The air-traveling public should have been alarmed the moment American Airlines took away the ability to check a bag at no extra charge.

Five short years later, nearly every airline has followed suit — and upped the ante — charging everything from snacks to window or aisle seats to curbside check-in (sans check-in fee and tip).

It’s a strategy called “unbundling,” which airlines get away with by promising the “flexibility” to pay for only what they use — and nothing more.

Well, they’re full of it, says USA Today columnist Christopher Elliot.

And with a $27.1 billion in fees and other “ancillary” revenue collected last year, airlines haven’t provided evidence that unbundled fares are lower. They also fail to adequately disclose unbundled fees before a purchase and do a masterful job convincing customers that they prefer it this way.

Most people will pay more for better service, but the better service rarely surfaces  in actual practice.

“It’s like a restaurant charging you for the use of glasses, plates and the table,” avid traveler and Los Angeles-based Lillian Mizrahi told Elliot. “Where does it end?”

Technically unbundling is fraud, but the airline thinks its ok, and forced Americans to adjust to a new reality in travel.

Americans loves bundles They’re beneficial and cost efficient. So why would they ever be in favor of “unbundling?”


It may be up to the government to ultimately define what’s included, and what’s not included, in the price of an airline ticket.


What do you think? When will “unbundling” go too far? Or has it already?

Email: for questions and comments.