NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — American Airlines will start offering a basic economy ticket this month following a similar announcement by United Airlines.
The basic economy fares will save you money, but come at a cost, CBS2’s Kris Van Cleave reported. You’ll be last onboard the plane, you can’t chose your own seat, and if your carry-on doesn’t fit under it, you’ll be paying to check it.
The basic economy fares are use or lose, no changes or cancellations are allowed. But the airlines say once onboard, passengers will have the same experience as everybody else in the economy cabins except you can’t use overhead bins and you’ll likely end up in a middle seat, Van Cleave reported.
“We always have extra bags other than our suitcases so we really do need the overhead bins,” one traveler said.
The restrictive bargain tickets come as ultra-low fare carriers like Spirit are increasingly competing for customers.
When checking round-trip nonstop flights from Chicago to Los Angeles leaving the first week of March, CBS2 found Spirit’s “bare fare” about $22 below that of United and around $100 lower than American’s best price.
“When it comes down to lower costs or convenience, I’ll take convenience,” traveler Keith Jones said.
United and American believe their no overhead bin, basic economy ticket will be more competitive. By 2020, United expects to score an additional $1 billion annually by attracting fare focused flyers.
Sen. Chuck Schumer is calling for legislation to keep the overhead free.
“They’ve gotta wring every nickel out of the consumer with all these new fees,” said Schumer. “They charge you when you store luggage, they shouldn’t charge you for the overhead bins, plain and simple.”
Kennedy said the bin-less fares give flyers a new way to save.
“If customers don’t like this product, customers won’t use it,” said Sean Kennedy, senior vice president of Airlines for America.
“An airline is offering a cheaper product for customers that want to fly that are budget conscience that want to find the lowest way to get from point A to point B. I’m not sure why there be controversy about that.”
Studies show the vast majority of fliers book based solely on price.