American Airlines is getting rid of an unpopular policy after pushback. Beginning September 5th, the carrier will allow passengers buying its “basic economy” tickets to bring a free carry-on bag and not just a personal item that fits under the seat in front of them. Buzz60
American Airlines is taking some of the sting out of buying its cheapest tickets.
Beginning Sept. 5, the carrier will allow passengers buying its “basic economy” tickets to bring a free carry-on bag and not just a personal item that fits under the seat in front of them.
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said Thursday on the airlines earnings conference call that the tweak is designed to allow the airline to “become more competitive.” President Robert Isom said American’s basic economy revenue has fallen short of expectations.
Delta Air Lines already allows passengers buying basic economy tickets to bring a free carry-on.
“We put this product out with a slightly different model than others had done in the past,” Parker said. “We think the right thing to do is to get in line with the competition.”
American’s no carry-on bag policy has confused and angered many passengers, even though American clearly spells out the fine print during the booking process. Passengers are often caught unaware at the gate when American agents require those with a standard carry-on bag to pay a fee to check it. There has been a $25 surcharge at the gate on top of normal bag fees for those flying on a basic economy ticket.
Even with the change, customers flying on America’s basic economy fares shouldn’t necessarily expect to make it onboard with a bag that must be stowed in an overhead bin. Basic economy customers are the last group to board, meaning there’s a good chance that most of the overhead bin space will already be full.
American’s move leaves United as the last of the big three U.S. airlines to prohibit carry-ons for its cheapest-fare fliers.
On American’s earnings call, Parker elaborated further about the change.
“For the price-sensitive customers who are the buyers of this, there is another big airline that doesn’t charge for carry-on,” Parker said.
“There are now filters on things like Google search that ask you if you want to bring a carry-on, and if you say yes, the American flights don’t show up nearly as high as they did before because it adds $20 to our fare,” he added. “Nothing wrong with that. It’s accurate. But when you get yourself in a position in this business where price sensitive customers find themselves with lower fares on truly competitive airlines like that, we have to take that into consideration.”