American’s change of policy means United is the lone US major to charge for carry-ons in basic economy 

Even as most of the large US airlines believe the roll-out of their branded fare schemes is meeting expectations, some of those carriers are making adjustments, including American’s recent decision to eliminate the carry-on bag restriction for its basic economy fare.


Summary:

  • Basic Economy has been among the latest fare adjustments from the US majors, and each is continuing to tweak its offering;
  • The latest change has seen American Airlines eliminate the carry-on bag restriction for its basic economy fare;
  • American is making the changes to match Delta’s basic economy offering, which already allows passengers to bring a carry-on bag;
  • United will have the most restrictive basic economy offering among the large US global network airlines and still charges for carry-on baggage.

The changes, which take effect in Sep-2018, allow passengers purchasing basic economy to  bring carry-on bags at no charge on domestic and short haul international flights. American is making the changes to match Delta’s basic economy offering, which allows passengers to bring a carry-on bag.

American executives have stated that with filters on a passenger’s Google search that ask if that passenger wants to bring carry-on luggage, and if a customer says yes – all of a sudden American flights do not show up nearly as high as they did before because it adds [USD]20 to the company’s fares.

Delta’s management recently fielded questions about whether it has detected any positive share gain due to some of the more restrictive basic economy offerings. “It’s very hard to isolate which individual piece contributed to the whole brand impact, but I think that’s certainly a contributing factor,” said Delta president Glen Hauenstein.

Company CEO Ed Bastian highlighted that Delta’s year-to-date net promoter score is up 3ppt year-on-year to 44%, and its more favourable basic economy offering could be playing a part in the increase. “Clearly,  customers of all classes are preferring Delta in increasing numbers,” Mr Bastian concluded.

Once the changes to American’s basic economy offering are complete, United will have the most restrictive basic economy offering among the its large global network airlines, charging for carry-on baggage. The company has recently stated it has no plans to change its offering.