American Airlines' new "service" that's really a new fee

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By purchasing the carrier's "Boarding and Flexibility Package," you're entitled to perks that, not long ago, there was no need to pay for.

Starting at an intro price of $9 to $19 per flight, American's new offering grants travelers the following:

Be among the first to board the plane and gain more time to store carry-on luggage and to get comfortable in your seat.

Provides you flexibility to standby for an earlier flight on your departure day at no additional charge.

Increase flexibility and save $75 off the regular $150 service charge, when applicable, when you need to change your travel itinerary.

What's funny (or sad) is that, as Christopher Elliott wrote, this amounts to a flier having to pay one fee to avoid some others. This is obviously the case for the latter two aspects of American's package, and it must be noted that in the recent past, there were no standby fees, and the service charge for changing a domestic flight was in fact $75. So basically, the new package fee brings travelers mostly back to square one, before the fee onslaught began.

As for the first part of American's package regarding priority boarding, well that too pretty much wouldn't be necessary were it not for the rise in fees. Checked baggage fees caused many more fliers to travel only with carry-on bags -- meaning there were a lot more carry-ons overall, along with more competition to secure spots for said bags in the overhead bins. Before the advent of widespread checked luggage fees, finding a convenient overhead bin location for your carry-on was relatively easy, and there was far less reason for the traveler to want to board the plane early, especially if that traveler had to pay for the privilege of doing so.

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