American Airlines is banning carry-on bags and overhead bin use for basic economy passengers


American Airlines Boeing 757 (1)

American Airlines

American Airlines Boeing 757-200.

Flying American Airlines just got a bit more affordable.


On Wednesday, the world's largest airline released details of its upcoming low-cost Basic Economy fare class.

"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," American Airlines President Robert Isom said in a statement.

According to Isom, the new fare class is designed to put American in a better position to compete against the growing presence of ultra-low-cost carriers.

Unfortunately, buying the cheapest ticket also means you will have to do without many of the amenities that have traditionally been considered obligatory in modern air travel.


At the top of that list is carry-on luggage. Basic Economy passengers are allowed to bring a personal item on board as long as it fits underneath the seat. However, any luggage that requires overhead bin space has been banned.

It's a policy that echoes United's Basic Economy fare class that was announced in November.

American Airlines economy class

American Airlines

American Airlines Economy seats.

Both airlines recommend Basic Economy passengers check their bags at the counter upon arrival at the airport.

According to an American Airlines spokesperson, Basic Economy passengers with luggage will be forced to gate check their bags and pay an additional handling fee. Thus, instead of paying $25 (for the first bag) at the check-in counter, Basic Economy passengers will need to fork over at least $50 to gate check their bags. (A bag check charge plus an additional $25 gate handling fee.)

United will also charge a gate check fee plus a $25 handling charge, an airline spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider.


To avoid confusion, United will only allow passengers who either qualify for free carry-on bags or have paid for checked baggage to check-in online.

On board the aircraft, flight attendants will not be tasked with policing the use of overhead bins, United Airlines President Scott Kirby said during the company's latest earnings call.

American Airlines Basic Economy

American Airlines

Instead, it will be the job of gate agents and terminal staff to manage the Basic Economy baggage policy.

An American Airlines spokesperson also confirmed that its flight attendants won't be tasked with policing overhead bin use.

In addition to bag restrictions, Basic Economy passengers will not get seat assignments until check-in and will be the last allowed to board the flight.


American will begin offering Basic Economy fares on February 10 while United Basic Economy enters service in the second quarter of 2017.

Delta Air Lines' less restrictive Basic Economy is already up and running. Delta Basic Economy allows passengers to bring along carry-on bags, but has restrictions in terms of seat assignments and boarding procedure that are similar to American and United.

American, Delta, and United all make it clear that passengers still have the option to purchase a traditional economy class ticket should they find the basic economy restrictions a bit much.

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