The last thing many fliers want to do when they reach their destination is wait by the baggage carousel for their luggage to arrive. Now, if they're flying American Airlines, they don't have to.
Beginning Monday, passengers can pay a fee of $29.95 to have a bag delivered to their home, office or hotel. Two bags will set them back $39.95, and if they're traveling with the whole family, they can pay $49.95 to deliver between three and 10 bags. This, of course, is in addition to any normal fees for baggage charged at the time of check-in.
American has partnered with BAGS VIP Luggage Delivery for the new service, available at more than 200 U.S. domestic airports and select international pre-clearance cities. Passengers simply order the service when the flight is booked or up to two hours prior to departure and drop the bags off as usual. But instead of retrieving the bags at the final destination, they can head straight for the exit and await their bags elsewhere.
The caveat: Passengers' may not see their bags for up to four hour after they arrive. Moreover, the final destination must be within 40 miles of the airport or an additional $1 per mile will be added up to 100 miles.
David Vance, managing director of consumer operations planning, said the new option was designed to give customers a hassle-free trip.
"We think this service will be especially valuable to families traveling with children, as well as our business travelers who need to go straight to a meeting or into the office," he said.
American is the first U.S. carrier to offer a baggage delivery service. Carriers are scrambling to find new ways to make money from add-on fees as the industry model shifts.
A recent report commissioned by travel technology partner Amadeus and carried out by IdeaWorksCompany found that airlines now reap $22.6 billion in ancillary revenues. Once largely limited to low-fare airlines, it is now the lifeblood of many larger carriers worldwide.
American, for one, racked up $2.1 billion in additional fees last year, coming in just behind Delta ($2.5 billion) and well behind United Continental ($5.2 billion).
Jay Sorensen, president of IdeaWorksCompany, noted a vast change over the five years his company has conducted the survey.
"Our first report into ancillary revenue was issued in 2007, when only 23 airlines worldwide disclosed ancillary revenue activity in financial filings, and the result was a modest $2.45 billion," he said. "Four years later, 50 airlines today disclose ancillary revenue activity of $22.6 billion. It's clear that airlines recognize the importance of ancillary revenue and are developing increasingly innovative ways to generate this."
Sorensen said the survey results describe an evolution that is occurring in how travel is sold to consumers -- an evolution fueled by creative add-ons. The gold rush mentality of "grab every buck, quid or kopek while you can," he said, has become a relic of the past.