American Airlines to let basic economy passengers travel with carry-on bags

Published on : Saturday, December 29, 2018

From September 5, passengers eager to book the cheaper, more restrictive fares would be able to fly with a personal item and carry-on bags, like regular coach flyers, the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier mentioned on Thursday in a news release.


Doing away with the bag restrictions on shorter flights will make its basic economy fares more competitive with airlines that include a full-size carry-on in their cheapest fares, American said.


Travellers choosing the cheaper fares still cannot select a specific seat in advance for free and are not eligible for upgrades.


Neither American nor Chicago-based United Airlines permitted basic economy flyers to bring carry-ons that had to be stored in overhead bins when they began selling the few-frills fares last year, though some frequent flyers and airline credit-card holders were exempt from the restrictions.


Basic economy travelers who pay to check bags would quickly see those fees eat into savings on their fares.


Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, which already had its version of basic economy, was more generous, letting all coach passengers bring a carry-on and personal item.


American wants its version of basic economy to be more competitive with Delta’s, said Henry Harteveldt, travel industry analyst and president of Atmosphere Research Group. Given a choice between two similarly priced tickets, most passengers would pick the one with fewer restrictions, Harteveldt said.


A United spokesman declined to say whether the airline is planning a similar policy change.


American’s policy change also brings rules for domestic basic economy passengers in line with those for customers flying between the U.S. and Europe.


Both American and United began offering cheaper but more restrictive fares on some trans-Atlantic flights earlier this year, and both allow each passenger a personal item and larger carry-on.


United described those new fares as a step toward an international version of basic economy.


Both airlines have said more than 60 percent of passengers offered a choice between basic and regular economy pay up for a standard coach ticket.

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