American Airlines’ Carry-On Fees for Basic Economy Will End on Sept. 5

People waiting in Chicagos Ohare International airport late in the day with an American Airlines plane parked at a gate in the background.
Passengers wait for an American Airlines flight at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Ill., on March. 18, 2018. 400tmax/Getty Images

Most basic economy airline tickets limit you to one personal item, the last boarding group, no advance seat assignments or upgrades and no wiggle room to change your flight.

This no-frills way of flying has become commonplace for budget travelers — and also a way for airlines to charge extra fees for seat assignments and additional baggage.

We have good news for our bargain-basement brood: Being basic is looking pretty fly right now.

American Airlines has announced that passengers on a basic economy ticket will be allowed a free carry-on bag as well as a personal item starting Sept. 5. Currently, it charges a $25 gate-check fee in addition to a $25 fee to check a first piece of luggage.

The airline made the change to keep it competitive with other airlines that include carry-on baggage in their economy fares, it said.

What You Get With American Airlines Basic Economy Ticket

While you might be stripped of the perks other main-cabin passengers enjoy, you can now pack a little extra on your next trip — if it’s after Sept. 5.

The carry-on bonus is good for all American Airlines destinations and it will allow passengers to use overhead bin space in addition to the under-the-seat space in front of them at no extra cost.

American Airlines basic economy ticket restrictions still apply.

Travelers will not be able to change, upgrade or board their flights early. However, they can choose their seats in advance or change seats for an extra $10 to $40 fee.

Thinking about snacks — I’m always thinking about snacks — don’t worry, all passengers receive the standard food and beverage service regardless if they’re on a regular main-cabin or basic-economy fare.

Read the Fine Print on Third-Party Purchases

Truth is, the quest for affordable flights often lands us on third-party travel-deal websites like Expedia, Kayak, Orbitz, Google and Priceline.

These aggregators list the cheapest flights first, which leads consumers into purchasing the lowest fare option without realizing they’re buying a basic economy ticket full of hidden restrictions.

Due to those hefty restrictions and fine print, there’s not much recourse if you accidentally buy a basic economy ticket.

Double check all the fine print and be sure you’re ready to commit to a basic economy ticket before making a purchase.

You might get stuck in a middle seat, but at least you’ll get there cheaply — and with an extra bag if you’re flying American.

Stephanie Bolling is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She loves boarding a plane last. The less time spent crammed on a plane, the better.