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American Airlines Restores Carry-On Bags to Basic Economy Fares

American Airlines is bringing carry-on bags back to its Basic Economy fares this September. In a release this week, the airline said it’s “removing the carry-on bag restriction that is currently part of its domestic and short-haul international Basic Economy fare rules” effective September 5, for tickets purchased or flown that day.

The current restrictions, which limit Basic Economy travelers to a personal item, remain in place until then.

The reason for the change has a lot to do with a competing airline, which American wouldn’t name. But it probably starts with a “D” and rhymes with “melta.”

[st_related]What Is Basic Economy? An Airline-by-Airline Guide[/st_related]

“We got to a point where we weren’t competitive … 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,” American CEO Doug Parker said, according to the Dallas Morning News. “”We think the right thing to do is to get in line with the competition.”

Delta includes a carry-on bag with its Basic Economy fares. United charges $25.

The Morning News adds that the restriction “pushed American’s visibility lower in online searches where customers said they wanted a fare with a carry-on bag.” Basically, American was blocking itself from competing with other airlines, especially Delta, for the cheapest fares. Removing the restriction allows the carrier to go head-to-head and compete on price.

One of the underlying theories behind stripped down economy fares is that passengers will “upgrade” after purchase. Currently, American says more than 60 percent of Basic Economy purchasers do upgrade to Main Cabin when offered the opportunity. The airline says that number will likely drop when the new fares as implemented, but it expects to make up the difference with more sales.

Readers, have you purchased a Basic Economy fare on American, Delta, or another airline? Do you feel it offers a good value, or do you prefer traditional economy class?

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By Carl Unger

Contributing Editor Carl Unger believes that every trip is worth taking. He loves an extended trip to Europe as much as he enjoys exploring the towns and landscape near home. Basically, you'll find him wherever there is good food, fresh air, and plenty of stories to bring home.

Carl has been writing for SmarterTravel since 2005. His travel writing has also appeared on USA Today and the About.com Boston travel guide.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "It's not revolutionary, but a small Moleskine notebook is my one travel must-have. It's great for noting things you want to remember and it takes up hardly any space in your bag."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "Japan. I'd love to take a month off and visit the cities, temples, and countryside. I'm fascinated by the country's juxtaposition of ancient traditions and modern ambitions."

Travel Motto: “Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” –Terry Pratchett

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Window."

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