American’s Outsourced Curbside Check-In Has Gotten More Expensive

American Airlines now outsources curbside check-in at most airports where it’s available, and it’s no longer offered free (plus tips) where provided. When this was announced a year ago the price was $3 per bag. The price has gone up in some locations.

Hey ⁦@AmericanAir⁩ when did this start and why? How much goes to the skycap?

— nugentventures (@jnugent3) October 12, 2022

The fee is still $3 in Austin, even if it’s gone up to $4 in some locations.

Being able to drop bags at the curb is incredibly helpful for families with more bags than children, and students flying to school with a year’s worth of belongings – rather than dragging them into the terminal.

American Airlines now outsources curbside check-in to vendor Baggage Airlines Guest Services (Bags, Inc.). This is offered for domestic travel only. There is no curbside check-in offered for international.

What American has accomplished is to turn curbside bag check from an expense (they paid employees to do it) into a revenue generator (they get a cut of the fees received from the franchise). Bags, Inc. provides curbside check-in in places like Atlanta; Austin; Boston; Dallas – Fort Worth; Denver; Fort Lauderdale; Las Vegas; Kansas City; Orlando; Raleigh; Richmond; San Antonio; San Diego; Salt Lake City; San Francisco; Seattle and at Washington National.

For historical and contractual reasons, Miami continues to offer curbside check-in, where the service has been provided by American’s wholly-owned regional carrier Envoy (rather than by American Airlines itself), and in Maui where it doesn’t cost the airline anything to provide. I believe Chicago O’Hare still has American Airlines Skycaps (and does not charge passengers a fee).

One of the early cuts that US Airways management made after taking over American was eliminating curbside check-in across 38 airports. There was a lot of pushback against this. Curbside check-in was suspended entirely at most airports as a cost-saving measure in July 2020 before moving to the outsourced model last fall.

Ironically about the only time I’ve ever needed curbside check-in was when US Airways management botched the reservation system integration with America West, online and kiosk check-in was down, and legacy US Airways agents didn’t know how to use the America West system. People working outside for tips sure did – and $5 got me a boarding pass rather than a 45 minute wait in the first class check-in line.

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