New American Airlines Fare Doesn't Let You Bring Overhead Baggage

Image: AP
Image: AP

On Wednesday, American Airlines announced that it will soon offer a cheap-as-hell “basic economy” package for its flights. The catch—because there’s always a catch when it comes to flying—is that these passengers won’t be able to use the overhead bins while flying.


Outside of checked baggage, which will still incur a regular fee, “basic economy” fliers—let’s call them “basics” for short—will only be allowed to bring one personal item on board with them, and it’ll have to fit under the seat. “No overhead bin luggage may be brought on board,” the airline’s press release notes pointedly. If your bag doesn’t fit, you’re looking at a $25 checked bag fee plus another $25 for checking it at the gate. Presumably, even if there’s space for your bags, you won’t get the privilege of putting them overhead.

Here’s how basics compares to normal passengers:

Image: American Airlines
Image: American Airlines

As if the overhead bin discrimination wasn’t bad enough, Basics will also be forced to board the plane last, and won’t get their seat assignments until check-in. And as for whether the price differential will be worth the pain, American described the price as a vague “lowest available.”

Of course, American Airlines isn’t the only company trying to squeeze the life and baggage out of its customers. United Airlines announced a similar program back in December, with similar rules about overhead baggage.

When asked for comment about the draconian new rules, a spokesperson for American Airlines simply sent us back a statement regurgitating the language of the company’s press release. Welcome to the future, everyone.



Of course I have pages. I had pages five years ago. How anyone can believe I don’t defies belief.


OK, here’s the thing...

The airlines have been getting the entire “charging for baggage” thing wrong from the start and then have just been compounding their errors trying to fix it.

They started charging for checked bags, so everyone started abusing the carry-on policy to avoid paying for checked bags. Which has resulted in about 80% of my recent flights asking/demanding that passengers gate-check their roller-bag carry-ons free-of-charge because there won’t be enough room for all of them in the overhead bins, as EVERYONE has started travelling with the maximum amount of carry-on luggage as possible to avoid the checked bag fees. (I always laugh at this because you charge me $25 for a checked suitcase but you’ll take my roller-bag for free at the gate if I do you a favour and give it up during a flight.)

So now airlines are charging for carry-on as well (or doing like this and preventing you from bringing carry-on in the first place) to discourage people from bringing roller-bag carry-ons onto planes.

The answer is actually pretty simple: reverse the financial penalties on luggage. Checked luggage goes for free, and your under-the-seat carry-on purse or backpack is free, and anything in the overhead bin is $25 per item.

That’s how you solve all the problems.