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American Airlines Reverses Unpopular Carry-On Bag Policy

Basic economy fares will now include a free carry-on bag
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2018 12:12 PM CDT
In this April 13, 2018, file photo, an American Airlines plane taxis at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

(Newser) – American Airlines last year introduced basic economy tickets that did not allow fliers to bring carry-on luggage, but the airline has now announced a reversal of that decision. Starting in September, customers who purchase basic economy fares will be allowed to bring a free carry-on bag, Dallas News reports; as USA Today explains, they were previously limited to a "personal item" that could be stowed under the seat in front of them. Though it is explained during the booking process, the policy often led to unhappy customers at the gate. "We got to a point where we weren’t competitive," says CEO Doug Parker. "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." Though he didn't name it, Delta Airlines already allows fliers with basic economy tickets to bring carry-on bags.

American recently saw what the CEO calls its "most challenging" quarter since 2013, reporting a second quarter profit of $566 million Thursday. That's down 34.5% from the same period last year. It's hoping changes like this can improve its outlook. "There are now filters on things like Google search that ask you if you want to bring a carry-on, and if you say yes, the American flights don’t show up nearly as high as they did before because it adds $20 to our fare," says Parker. "We have to take that into consideration." Basic economy fares, a step down from regular economy fares, still will not allow flight changes or upgrades; will require passengers to board last; and will not allow passengers to choose their seats in advance. (Read more American Airlines stories.)

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