Incorrect Baggage Fee on AA

In October 2014 I flew from SLC to LAX on American Airlines. Then on a separate ticket I flew from LAX to HKG on Cathay Pacific. Since they are both oneworld, and Cathay Pacific is the over water carrier, it’s pretty straightforward that you use the Cathay Pacific baggage allowance when calculating any fees.

While this is obvious, the agent checking me in at SLC was terrible and had no idea how to work the system. I’ve done this many times before, checking through bags on separate tickets all the way through without issue, until this time.

aa baggage

Upon check-in, the agent insisted that I needed to pick-up the bags at LAX and re-check, which I knew was completely untrue. Then the agent said I needed to pay for my bag since AA doesn’t include free baggage, again completely untrue. There was literally one agent at the AA counter at SLC, since it’s a tiny airport so I couldn’t ask for a manager.

Basically I spent 15 minutes at the counter insisting with the agent that she can check my bags through and I don’t have to pay. Finally she was able to figure out how to check the bag through the HKG, but insisted I still had to pay. Rather than deal with her any longer, I just decided to pony up the $35 and try to get a refund later.

You can submit a complaint or comment on the AA website through customer relations. After a few days they e-mailed me back and requested that I send physical copies of my boarding pass to AA via mail, which I did in October.

After that, I haven’t heard anything for two months. So in December I followed up with the online form again and they said they’ll get someone to look at my case. Again no reply for months. Around early Feb I replied to that e-mail with the same request they process my refund. Finally in late March I see a statement credit on my credit card from AA for the $35, with no response via e-mail that they’ve refunded it.

Point of the story is don’t give up if you know you are due a refund. Even if it might take a little chasing, you shouldn’t let these big companies take money that is owed to you. I think many people would probably forget about the $35, but for me it’s the principle rather than the dollar amount.


2 Responses

  1. stacey says:

    this is the first time i’ve heard of the overwater carrier’s baggage rules applying. whenever i’ve flown two different carriers i’ve had to follow the baggage rules of the first one (i.e., the one checking you in for both sectors). i usually fly NH connecting with UA and get NH’s more generous baggage allowance, but once in a while it’s been UA connecting with NH and i’ve had to follow UA’s baggage rules … good to hear about the overwater carrier thing — i’ll bring it up next time.

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