Home Airlines Change To American Airlines’ Restrictions For Basic Economy Fares Takes Effect Today

Change To American Airlines’ Restrictions For Basic Economy Fares Takes Effect Today

by joeheg

When American Airlines rolled out Basic Economy fares in 2017, the restrictions were strict. Basic Economy ticket holders on American had the following limitations on their tickets:

  • One item that fits under the seat in front of you (no access to overhead bins)
  • Seats are assigned at check-in
  • Fees to choose a specific seat
  • Not eligible for upgrades
  • No flight changes or refunds
  • Board in last group

As of today, September 5, 2018, American is removing one of those restrictions. Basic Economy passengers can now bring a bag that fits in the overhead bin. Here’s the notice on American’s website:

Special notice

Customers flying Basic Economy will be allowed 1 free carry-on (in addition to a personal item) to all destinations, starting September 5, 2018.

You’ve always been able to bring a carry-on bag if you were an American Airline elite member or had one of American’s co-brand credit cards with Barclays or Citibank.

This was a major restriction for those passengers who are infrequent travelers and may make a basic economy ticket more appealing. Remember, you’ll still be in the last boarding group so there’s no guarantee there will be space for your bag in the overhead when it’s your turn to get on the plane. American is also not guaranteeing that the gate agents won’t try to stop you and say that your bag is too large for the overhead.


This change from American leaves United as the only airline that doesn’t allow a carry-on bag with a Basic Economy fare. Competing for the low fare market, both Spirit and Frontier allow you to bring a carry-on bag for the overhead bin (if you pay for it). Since United was counting on airlines matching their strict policies to remain competitive, it will be interesting to see if they’ll hold the line on Basic Economy or will they eventually match the policies of Delta and American (and JetBlue and Southwest and Alaska) in regards to bringing a carry-on bag.

For Sharon and I, this isn’t a huge change. We were able to bring a bag with us and board earlier because we have the American credit card. When I checked the price difference, it was about the same to pay for a regular ticket and get a seat assignment as it was to get a Basic Economy ticket and pay for a seat assignment. For those who are always looking for the cheapest airfare, this might make a Basic Economy ticket on American more appealing. Just make sure you know all the restrictions of each airline so you can make a fair comparison.

Featured Image by Quintin Gellar from Pexels

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


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