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American AirlinesAmerican Airlines’ parent company, the AMR Corporation, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection yesterday; this is certainly dismal news for the carrier’s employees and shareholders. But American’s customers may likewise be worried about what lies ahead. Should fliers expect more fees, cuts to mileage programs and other unfavorable changes from the airline in the near future?

A piece published by satirical online newspaper the Onion in 2008 was oddly prescient. The story, American Airlines Now Charging Fees to Non-Passengers, reads: “[American Airlines President Gerard Arpey] said that non-passengers of American Airlines should expect to pay a small fee when making Greyhound bus reservations, choosing to drive to their final destination, or simply being a citizen of the United States with a valid Social Security number. Arpey went on to note that some additional charges would also apply, including a $15 fee for every piece of luggage customers have inside their bedroom closet, and a one-time payment of $40 for any American whose name is Greg.”

In the wake of a gloomy turn of events in the airline industry, it’s refreshing to have a chuckle. But is there an element of truth in this parody?

For now, everything — including ticket prices, extra fees and mileage programs — will pretty much stay the same. According to a statement posted on the airline Web site,”American Airlines and American Eagle are operating normal flight schedules, and our reservations, customer service, AAdvantage program, Admirals Clubs and all other operations are conducting business as usual.”

Every other legacy airline has gone through bankruptcy in the last decade — US Airways, United, Delta, etc. — and lived to tell the tale. Judging by past bankruptcies, we can predict that American will likely be curtailing its route map down the road. Says IndependentTraveler.com contributor Ed Hewitt, “Bankrupt airlines almost always make changes and cutbacks to routes and flight frequency; staying on top of your flight through e-mail notifications will help you get the word more quickly.” It’s a good idea to sign up for e-mail alerts from American if you have an upcoming flight scheduled.

As for fees, we can’t say whether or not American — or other carriers, for that matter — will roll out more petty charges to squeeze some extra revenue out of the pockets of its customers following this latest airline bankruptcy. As always, travelers should keep an eye on ticket terms and conditions when purchasing a flight.

What do you think of American Airlines’ bankruptcy filing? Take our poll and share your thoughts in the comments!

— written by Caroline Costello

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7 Responses to “American Airlines Bankruptcy: Business as Usual?”

  1. wbacoventry says:

    AS my airline of choice is British Airways and American is their partner airline will my internal flights in the USA be affected if I book through BA or should I be looking at alternative airlines for my multi destination flights

  2. JK says:

    I just booked my February vacation using American. They are still one of the largest carriers, especially for longer flights. I am not worried! :-)

  3. Larry leichtman says:

    Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of people. I expect fees to climb and new fees including a carryon fee at some point. I’m taking likely my last AA flight next week as I am sick of them and I’m a gold member. Will be flying Southwest.

    • Chuck says:

      Really? You’re giving up upgrades, use of the first class check-in, and first-class security? Besides, you can’t use Southwest miles to go anywhere good, like Canada or Europe. Besides, if you’re gold, you are exempt from many fees, such as checked bags. When my wife changed jobs, she did her best to circumvent the company’s preferred carrier, United, because she had gold status on American. If United and American had the same fare, she figured that she saved the company money, with no checked bag fees from AA.

      My first flight was on AA in 1963, and I just won’t fly anyone else.

  4. When ATA and Aloha Airlines both tanked a few years ago within weeks of one another, my husband and I got stuck in Hawaii. Though none of our friends back home on the mainland seemed very sympathetic to our plight, it did cost us a bundle to get home (about three times what we’d paid to get there) and, of course, we lost the money wrapped up in our return ticket. And because this was in April during both the Merrie Monarch Festival on the Big Island and everyone’s spring break, thousands of people ended up being stranded, including a lot of hula dancers who could scarsely afford to leave. Hawaiian Airlines was a hero in this mess, because they offered a couple of charter flights to help a lot of festival participants home. Aloha Airlines came away clean, too, because they tried to do right by everyone, but ATA went out in the rottenest fashion, abandoning even their flight crews and baggage handlers right after midnight on the night they folded. If ATA ever resurrects itself, we will NEVER fly with them again.

  5. Anonymous says:

    AA wants to cut costs? They ought to look at what is thrown away in the dumpsters like I see every day. The price they pay for repair parts is stupid. They could form a committee to evaluate what they pay for parts and negotiate prices with the suppliers. It is outrageous what they pay. They order parts and supplies without a care what it costs. I know because I see it every day. When it is brought to management’s attention they shrug it off and ignore what is right in front of them. They have buyers on the take from suppliers that drive up the prices. If you think this is bunk you ought to see it from a mechanics point of view. The upper management doesn’t know what is going on in mid management and what deals are being made. Would you pay $100 for a six foot piece of string? AA does. Would you pay twice the price for a roll of tape that you can but at Home Depot? AA does. When brought to management’s attention the tell you to leave it alone. I could go on with these examples all day long. WAKE UP AMERICA(N).

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