American Is Actually Improving Basic Economy Fares; Your Move United

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Delta started the Basic Economy madness, but Scott Kirby single-handedly made it worse. He designed it to exclude overhead carry-on baggage unless you had the airline’s credit card.

When he jumped ship from American to United he managed to bring that system to both of those airlines. But Delta decided that was too punitive and never matched it.

American has blinked first and effective for flights starting 9/5 they will allow carry-on bags for basic economy fares.

That leaves United as the only network carrier that still restricts carry-on baggage on basic economy fares.

Interestingly, United has the least restrictive basic economy rules when it comes to Transatlantic flights. It’s only a matter of time until they have to cave in on domestic basic economy restrictions.


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24 Comments On "American Is Actually Improving Basic Economy Fares; Your Move United"

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Spirit and Frontier come to mind (but they are their own category)!


And Wow air…


I booked some UnitedEconomy Saver awards and I think I’m stuck paying for checked bags. Weak on a free ticket. I nevertheless carry on more than a personal item but this policy is going to cause my party of 3 to bring the maximum allowable carry on sand personal items to try and save money $25 at a time. The agent booking the award for me wouldn’t let me prepay for checked baggage either, which I think would have saved some money.


United’s basic economy is also the only one that doesn’t earn at least some status qualifying miles. That’s the real deal breaker for me. They’re charging me a premium to qualify for status in a way the others don’t.


Just fly southwest, 2 free suitcases per person, can’t beat that


Yea, sometimes Southwest is the answer. But try flying them East Coast to West Coast non-stop or getting a red eye West to East


Southwest is great for certain situations, especially short haul flights, but my home airport is PHL and Southwest has done nothing but remove routes here. Unless I’m going to Florida, there are very few non-stop options out of this airport on Southwest. As someone else said, Southwest doesn’t do red-eyes. They don’t have a FC cabin either.

And to your statement (and many people’s) about bags being free on Southwest….
1) I hate checking a bag. It’s a waste of time after I land and I’m rarely going anywhere that I need to check a large amount of luggage.

2) Even if I have to check a bag, the legacy carriers have ways to get free bags with a low annual fee credit card or status.


As usual United is a follower not a leader. It seems they follow every bad decision for consumers and don’t lead on anything.


BTW, On international, The local agents can offer almost the same price for main cabin, for the advertised basic Eco fares, looks like the airlines work hard to keep them in business…


Dan. On american international basic fare. Do you pay for checked in bagage after 09/05?


The no carryon restriction actually makes sense, that space is limited and using it takes up valuable time, whereas picking your seat costs nothing and restricting it ends up creating more work for staff. As someone who flies only with a personal item I don’t like subsidizing those who choose to bring more.


@Seth – if you are on AA and in the last boarding group (usually group 9) because you have purchased a Basic Economy fare, chances are you won’t find any overhead space anyway. The space is generally gone after groups 6 or 7.


I flew 5 AA flights earlier this month. On all of them, agents offered to gate-check carry-ons for free, advising that space usually runs out by the time they board Group 7. My Citi card put me in Group 5 (Group 1, on the longest segment, for which I paid a premium) so I didn’t pay much attention to how they policed Group 9. However, I was surprised that they let passengers in the A321 exit rows keep stuff on the floor in front of them — not even under the seat — during the flight.

Born in NJ

Wonder if the option on google flights to see the total flight price with a carryon bag had any impact


Are domestic reservations booked through BA using Avios considered Basic Economy? I don’t remember carry on restrictions on those flights


Dan why do you think price segmentation is a bad thing? I don’t under the “pro consumer” argument — it just ends with higher prices and more limited selection. Why not let the market decide? These type of complaints are the route to old, pre-deregulation US air travel which is bad for all.