American Airlines' cheapest ticket options now come with a catch. The airline recently announced that tickets for its new fare, Basic Economy, will go on sale February in 10 select markets. These “no frills” tickets offer the same in-flight services as normal with one big catch: no access to overhead bins.
“One personal carry-on item that fits under the seat (such as a purse or small backpack) is allowed,” a press release on their website reads. “No overhead bin luggage may be brought on board.”
Larger carry-ons must be checked at the ticket counter. If a passenger's personal item doesn’t fit under their seat, they will be charged a regular checked bag fee of $25 for the first bag, plus a $25 gate service charge.
Basic Economy ticket holders will also be given assigned seats only when they check in (which basically guarantees the middle, right?) and will be relegated to the last boarding group. And the final blow? Sitting together is not guaranteed with multi-seat purchases.
American Airlines is pitching the new fare as a low-cost alternative for those who don't mind the tradeoffs.
“American Airlines now has something to offer every customer, from those who want simple, low-price travel to those who want an ultra-premium experience via First Class,” said American Airlines President Robert Isom. “Importantly, this new fare product also gives American the ability to compete more effectively with the growing number of ultra low-cost carriers.”
Ison continued: “Our goal is to make sure that all customers have the opportunity to purchase a ticket on American that works for their specific needs. We will work hard to ensure transparency, provide clear explanations of these fares, and we look forward to continuing to offer a wide variety of services to our customers.”
United Airlines also recently unveiled a similar Basic Economy ticketing strategy, which irked some travelers, some of whom viewed the move as yet another reduction in service.