In November of last year, United Airlines became the first major U.S. airline to ban passengers who purchase “Basic Economy” tickets from using overhead bins, limiting them to one carry-on bag that fits under a seat. At the time, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) scrutinized the airline for charging passengers to use “one of the last sacred conveniences of air travel.” Now, Schumer is going after American Airlines for the same policy.
American introduced its version of a Basic Economy ticket earlier this year. Passengers who buy a ticket will board the plane last, and are also limited to one, seat-friendly carry-on item. And much like United’s policy, any bag larger than that can either be checked or stored in the overhead bin space for a price.
But with American’s introduction of its latest fare class, Schumer concerns have heightened: On Sunday, he said he’s worried that other airlines will follow suit — meaning one day all passengers will have to pay extra if they want to stow a suitcase overhead.
“You don’t have to know how to read the tea leaves to see that when it comes to new airline fees, the future looks turbulent for consumers,” Schumer said, according to CBS New York. “Yet again, and as predicted, another major airline just made it harder for everyday consumers to fly by banning the free use of the overhead bin for some travelers.”
But in response, American argued that the new “basic” fares give passengers a cheaper alternative to standards fares, which comes with “overhead bin privileges,” CBS reports. The company also pointed to one of its previous statements in response to Schumer:
“American Airlines now has something to offer every customer, from those who want simple, low-price travel to those who want an ultra-premium experience via First Class,” the statement reads. “Importantly, this new fare product also gives American the ability to compete more effectively with the growing number of ultra-low cost carriers.”
Still, Schumer is going to push for an expansion of the Airline Passenger Bill of Rights in the upcoming Federal Aviation Administration bill, according to CBS.
“The airlines that have adopted this policy should hit the eject on this plan and allow free use of the overhead bin for all fare classes and for all customers,” Schumer said.