Man who tries to book flight for mom outraged at fees

Posted: Updated:

PHOENIX - A Valley man said he was outraged when American Airlines wanted to charge him a huge fee just to pay a checked bag fee in advance.

With five-year-old triplets running around, Phoenix resident Randall Winkler’s house is a busy one. So when Winkler’s wife had to fly overseas on business, he called his mom in Charlotte, North Carolina for help.
 
Grandma packed her one bag, not a very big one, and was ready to fly to Phoenix.
 
Winkler went online to book her ticket with American Airlines where he’s a frequent flier. The fee to check her bag was $25, which he expected, but when he asked to prepay the fee so his mom wouldn’t have to deal with it at the airport he was told he would be charged an additional $100

“I paused,” explained Winkler, “and said wait a second, you want to charge me a fee to pay a fee?”
 
Winkler said while he understands that the airlines have to charge some additional fees, $25 to check a bag, a few dollars to watch a movie or buy some food, the $100 is just outrageous

“To want to tack on a $100 fee for a customer to prepay? It’s a very frustrating situation,” he said.
 
Even more frustrating for Winkler, he couldn’t get any answers from American Airlines.

He said when his questions went unanswered, he reached out to 3 On Your Side.

“I contacted the station because I felt like this was a situation where consumers are being taken advantage of,” he said.
 
3 On Your Side reached out to American Airlines to find out if there was some mistake or if it is their policy to charge customers four times the amount of the fee just to prepay.

The airlines sent 3 On Your Side this response:

"AA charges $100 to prepay for a variety of tickets and services -- including checked baggage charges.  Many customers find this service convenient for the prepayment of large purchases.  We are exploring options to make prepaying for smaller services more economical in the future."
 
So for now, consumers who want to prepay, even for a small checked bag, it will cost you.
 
For Winkler, a long time customer, the answer from the airline didn’t sit well.

“I felt this was a story people needed to hear," he said. "If we can’t get our message across to the airline that we’ve had enough with ridiculous fees by complaining about it, maybe if we take our dollars somewhere else, they will realize we’re tired of it.”