Published: Fri, January 20, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

American Airlines launches Basic Economy fare to compete with LCCs

That means carry-ons stowed in overhead bins will not be allowed, just like United Airines' basic economy fares. Delta Air Lines' (DAL) basic economy initiative isn't as limiting, as consumers are still able to take carry-on bags aboard.

When you're forced to gate-check your bag thanks to your later boarding group or end up with tragically little legroom, it's more than easy to feel like flying in economy class is already a basic, no-frills experience. First class costs more than coach, and coach is more expensive than these basic fares.

American also studied the blowback United Airlines received when announcing no advanced seat assignments and the potential impact on families traveling together.

American Airlines is going to begin selling "basic economy" fares in an effort to compete with low-priced carriers. Those airlines - notably "ultra low-priced carriers" such as Spirit, Frontier and Allegiant - are known for charging rock-bottom base fares but adding fees for everything from seat assignments to water.

American was selected by ATW's editorial board in recognition of the phenomenal achievements by American's leadership and employees this past year.

"Our goal is to make sure that all customers have the opportunity to purchase a ticket on American that works for their specific needs", says Robert Isom, chief commercial officer of American, in a statement.

The world's largest airline this week introduced new Basic Economy fares with the most basic passenger benefits. While American plans to expand the offering based on customer interest, it won't be available on every flight, the carrier said.

Customers will have the same in-flight experience as customers in the Main Cabin economy seats, American said, adding that it will not be renovating its aircraft to change seats for basic economy.

Seat assignments: Made automatically and only when customers check in. United's Basic Economy passengers will not earn credit towards elite status in the MileagePlus program. Passengers can bring one personal item, such as a purse, a backpack, or a briefcase that fits under the seat. Passengers are not allowed to bring overhead bin luggage on board. If your carry-on doesn't store under your seat, you'll have to pay a standard checked bag fee plus an extra $25 to check it at the gate. Basic Economy seats won't be segregated from other Main Cabin seating, however. Tickets will be non-refundable and non-changeable, and customers will not be able to standby for an earlier flight, even when paying a fee.

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