This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Unfortunately, basic economy is becoming the new normal in the airline industry. The three major US carriers have been rolling it out on more and more routes this year, much to our dismay.
Billed as a way for customers to save money, it lets people buy cheaper fares and forego things like seat selection, priority boarding and the ability to bring a full-size carry-on bag. Our United and American basic economy reviews show that basic economy should usually be avoided, though Delta’s was a bit more tolerable.
The implementation of basic economy has been rocky and we’ve heard from readers that airline staff doesn’t always enforce the new rules. Inspired by a TPG Lounge Post complaining about the behavior of basic economy flyers using the overhead bins despite not being allowed to, we delve into some flyers’ complaints — and the airlines’ policy.
So, can BE passengers use the overhead bins for items they are allowed to bring aboard, like a purse or backpack?
The answer is relatively simple — Delta allows BE flyers to bring a full size carry-on, so those flyers are entitled to using the overhead bin for their luggage. Both American and United charge for this option, which means that BE passengers aren’t allowed to stow whatever they please in the overhead bins — unless they paid for that.
American says that you get “one item that fits under the seat in front of you (no access to overhead bins)” while United’s policy’s states “you are allowed one small personal item that fits under the seat in front of you.” Although United’s policy doesn’t explicitly state that you can’t use the overhead bins, we reached out to the airline for clarification — it responded by saying that your luggage must be stored underneath the seat in front of you.
Despite American and United’s restrictive rules, comments in the TPG Lounge reveal that airlines aren’t enforcing these rules all the time.
Many commenters had the same question as Shane D. There’s confusion because regular economy passengers board before BE flyers, and thus there shouldn’t be an issue with filled overhead bins. However, even AA elites are finding that BE passengers are using the bins to store their luggage, leaving less room for those who paid more for Main Cabin tickets.
Anthony L. says that this makes perfect sense, and that it would be difficult for an airline to enforce a policy like this.
Once on board the aircraft — it may be hard to check who is and who isn’t a basic economy passenger.
This policy was a surprise to many commenters, including David K., who said he plans on putting his personal item in the overhead bins regardless of the rules.
But, David B. argues that those who pay for the right to use that space should be entitled to have space in the overhead bins.
Is it right for the airlines to restrict overhead bins only to people who paid more money for their ticket? Although it’s frustrating, it’s now policy on some airlines. They also argue that thanks in part to basic economy, passengers are paying less than they ever have before for plane tickets.
Carriers such as Alaska, JetBlue and Southwest haven’t implemented basic economy. And for those still flying on the big three legacy carriers, there are still ways to defeat restrictive basic economy rules through holding an airline’s co-branded credit card.
Make sure you join the TPG Lounge to chime in on more travel hacks, tips and news.
With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game. Here are the top 5 reasons it should be in your wallet, or read our definitive review for more details.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards