American Targets Kids for More Fees

Beginning on September 3, children aged 12 through 14 will be required to pay a $150 unaccompanied-minor fee when flying on American. Cynical gouge, or a sensible safety measure?

Nuisance fees sometimes can be downright nasty. For example: when they target children.

A case in point is American’s just-announced change to the fees it charges for children traveling alone.

Today, children between the ages of five and 11 are assessed an unaccompanied-minor fee of $150 each way. (Children younger than five years old may not travel alone.)

Beginning on September 3, however, children aged 12 through 14 will be required to pay the $150 unaccompanied-minor fee as well.

As a point of comparison, Southwest charges a $50 unaccompanied-minor fee, each way, for children aged five through 11. So American’s fee is three time higher than Southwest’s. And with the change, it will apply to significantly more children.

What’s behind the change?

American justified the new policy by pointing out that it’s consistent with the fee already charged by merger partner US Airways.

The real answer: Because it’s profitable, and because they can.

Reader Reality Check

Is American’s new fee policy a cynical gouge, or a sensible safety measure?

This article originally appeared on

By Tim Winship

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *