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American Airlines Restores Carry-On Bags to Basic Economy Fares

American Airlines is bringing carry-on bags back to its Basic Economy fares this September. In a release this week, the airline said it’s “removing the carry-on bag restriction that is currently part of its domestic and short-haul international Basic Economy fare rules” effective September 5, for tickets purchased or flown that day.

The current restrictions, which limit Basic Economy travelers to a personal item, remain in place until then.

The reason for the change has a lot to do with a competing airline, which American wouldn’t name. But it probably starts with a “D” and rhymes with “melta.”

“We got to a point where we weren’t competitive … For price sensitive customers who are the buyers of this, there’s a big airline out there who doesn’t charge for the carry-on,” American CEO Doug Parker said, according to the Dallas Morning News. “”We think the right thing to do is to get in line with the competition.”

Delta includes a carry-on bag with its Basic Economy fares. United charges $25.

The Morning News adds that the restriction “pushed American’s visibility lower in online searches where customers said they wanted a fare with a carry-on bag.” Basically, American was blocking itself from competing with other airlines, especially Delta, for the cheapest fares. Removing the restriction allows the carrier to go head-to-head and compete on price.

One of the underlying theories behind stripped down economy fares is that passengers will “upgrade” after purchase. Currently, American says more than 60 percent of Basic Economy purchasers do upgrade to Main Cabin when offered the opportunity. The airline says that number will likely drop when the new fares as implemented, but it expects to make up the difference with more sales.

Readers, have you purchased a Basic Economy fare on American, Delta, or another airline? Do you feel it offers a good value, or do you prefer traditional economy class?

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