Does American Airlines Basic Economy Include Carry-On Bags?

When booking flights, many travelers look for the cheapest fares possible. American Airlines offers basic economy fares that seem like great budget-friendly options. However, these restrictive fares do not include a standard carry-on bag allowance.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: No, American Airlines basic economy fares do not allow passengers to bring a carry-on bag onboard. All bags must be checked on basic economy tickets.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide a detailed breakdown of American Airlines’ basic economy policies, including luggage restrictions, seat assignments, boarding policies, and more. We’ll also compare basic economy to standard main cabin fares so you can determine if basic economy makes sense for your travel needs and budget.

What is Basic Economy on American Airlines?

Basic Economy is a fare option offered by American Airlines that provides customers with a more budget-friendly choice for their travel needs. It is designed to be a no-frills option for travelers who prioritize cost savings over additional amenities and perks.

While Basic Economy fares offer competitive pricing, it is important to understand the limitations and restrictions that come with this fare class.

Definition and overview of basic economy

Basic Economy fares on American Airlines are the lowest-priced fares available for domestic and international flights. These fares come with certain restrictions and limitations compared to standard economy fares.

One of the main differences is that Basic Economy passengers are not allowed to bring a full-sized carry-on bag on board the aircraft. Instead, they are only permitted to bring one personal item that fits under the seat in front of them.

In addition to the carry-on bag restriction, Basic Economy passengers also have other limitations. They are not eligible for upgrades, changes, or refunds, and they cannot select their seats in advance.

Seat assignments are made at check-in, which means that there is a possibility of being separated from travel companions.

Pros and cons of booking basic economy fares

Booking a Basic Economy fare can be a great option for budget-conscious travelers who don’t mind sacrificing some of the additional amenities offered with standard economy fares. Here are some pros and cons to consider:

  • Pros:
    • Lower fares: Basic Economy fares are often priced lower than standard economy fares, allowing travelers to save money on their flights.
    • Access to the same destinations: Basic Economy passengers still have access to the same destinations and flight schedules as those booking standard economy fares.
  • Cons:
    • Carry-on bag restrictions: Basic Economy passengers are only allowed to bring one personal item that fits under the seat in front of them. This can be a disadvantage for travelers who prefer to bring more luggage or who need specific items during the flight.
    • No seat selection: Basic Economy passengers cannot select their seats in advance and may be assigned seats separately from their travel companions.
    • Limited flexibility: Basic Economy fares are non-refundable and non-changeable, which means that if your plans change, you may not be able to modify your booking.

It is important for travelers to carefully consider their priorities and travel needs before booking a Basic Economy fare on American Airlines. While it can offer cost savings, it is essential to be aware of the limitations and restrictions that come with this fare class.

Luggage Allowances on Basic Economy Tickets

When it comes to luggage allowances, American Airlines’ Basic Economy tickets have some unique restrictions and requirements. Passengers flying on Basic Economy tickets should be aware of the specific rules regarding carry-on bags and checked bags.

No carry-on bags allowed

One of the main differences between Basic Economy and other fare classes on American Airlines is that Basic Economy passengers are not allowed to bring a standard carry-on bag into the cabin of the aircraft. This means that you won’t be able to use the overhead bin space for your luggage.

However, Basic Economy passengers are still permitted to bring one personal item, such as a small backpack or a purse, that can fit under the seat in front of them.

Checked bags available for a fee

If you need to bring more than just a personal item, such as a larger suitcase or multiple bags, you can still check in your luggage. American Airlines allows Basic Economy passengers to check bags, but keep in mind that this service comes with an additional fee.

The exact fee will depend on your specific flight and destination, so it’s always a good idea to check American Airlines’ official website or contact their customer service for the most up-to-date information.

Personal items still permitted

While Basic Economy passengers are not allowed to bring a standard carry-on bag, they can still bring one personal item, such as a small backpack or a purse, into the cabin. This personal item should be able to fit under the seat in front of you.

It’s important to note that the size and weight restrictions for personal items may vary, so it’s always a good idea to double-check American Airlines’ official guidelines before your flight.

Seat Selection with Basic Economy Fares

When it comes to American Airlines Basic Economy fares, seat selection is one area where passengers may encounter certain restrictions. Here are some important points to keep in mind:

No advance seat assignments

One of the main differences with Basic Economy fares is that passengers do not have the option to select their seats in advance. This means that travelers who purchase this type of ticket will have their seats assigned at check-in.

This policy is implemented by American Airlines in order to provide more flexibility with fares and offer lower prices to customers. By not offering advance seat assignments, the airline is able to offer cheaper tickets to those who may not necessarily require specific seating accommodations.

Seats assigned at check-in

With Basic Economy fares, passengers will receive their seat assignments at the time of check-in. This means that depending on the availability, the airline will assign seats to passengers on a first-come, first-served basis.

It’s important to note that while American Airlines aims to seat passengers together when possible, there is no guarantee that groups or families will be seated together. This is another factor to consider when deciding whether Basic Economy is the right choice for your travel needs.

Upgrades unavailable

Another restriction of Basic Economy fares is that passengers are not eligible for upgrades. This means that even if seats with extra legroom or other premium features are available, Basic Economy passengers will not be able to upgrade their seats.

It’s worth mentioning that American Airlines offers different fare options to cater to a variety of traveler preferences. If seat selection and the ability to upgrade are important to you, it may be worth considering other fare classes such as Main Cabin or higher.

For more information on American Airlines Basic Economy fares and their specific policies, you can visit their official website www.aa.com.

Boarding Process for Basic Economy Passengers

When it comes to the boarding process, American Airlines Basic Economy passengers have a few things to keep in mind. Here’s what you need to know:

Board in final boarding group

Basic Economy passengers will typically board the plane in the final boarding group. This means that they will be among the last passengers to enter the aircraft. While this may not be ideal for those who prefer to board early and secure overhead bin space, it is one of the trade-offs of opting for the Basic Economy fare.

Not allowed priority boarding

Unlike other fare classes, Basic Economy passengers are not eligible for priority boarding. This means that they will not have the opportunity to board earlier than other passengers, even if they have elite status or hold a certain credit card.

It’s important for Basic Economy passengers to be aware of this restriction and plan their boarding strategy accordingly.

May result in middle seats

Another aspect to consider when choosing American Airlines Basic Economy is the possibility of being assigned a middle seat. Basic Economy passengers are typically assigned seats at check-in or at the gate, and this can often lead to being seated in the middle of the row.

If having a window or aisle seat is important to you, it might be worth considering upgrading to a higher fare class.

Basic Economy vs. Main Cabin Fares

When booking flights, it’s important to understand the differences between Basic Economy and Main Cabin fares. These fare options are commonly offered by airlines, including American Airlines, and they cater to different traveler needs and budgets.

Feature-by-feature comparison

Basic Economy fares are typically the lowest-priced option and are designed for travelers who are looking for a no-frills experience. One of the main differences between Basic Economy and Main Cabin fares is the inclusion of carry-on bags.

With American Airlines Basic Economy, carry-on bags are not included, and passengers are only allowed to bring a personal item that fits under the seat in front of them.

Main Cabin fares, on the other hand, offer more flexibility and amenities. With American Airlines Main Cabin fares, passengers are allowed to bring both a carry-on bag and a personal item on board. This means that you can bring more items with you and have easier access to your belongings during the flight.

Another difference between Basic Economy and Main Cabin fares is seat selection. With Basic Economy, seat selection is typically not available until check-in, which means you may not have as much control over where you sit on the plane.

However, with Main Cabin fares, you can usually select your seat at the time of booking or at any point before your flight.

Other features, such as priority boarding and the ability to make changes or upgrades to your ticket, also differ between Basic Economy and Main Cabin fares. Main Cabin fares often offer more flexibility in terms of making changes to your flight, while Basic Economy fares may have more restrictions.

When basic economy makes sense

While Basic Economy fares may not be ideal for every traveler, they can be a good option for those who are looking to save money and are willing to forgo some of the amenities and flexibility offered by Main Cabin fares.

If you’re traveling light and don’t mind not being able to select your seat in advance, Basic Economy can be a great way to save on airfare.

However, it’s important to consider your specific needs and preferences when choosing between Basic Economy and Main Cabin fares. If you value the ability to bring a carry-on bag and have more control over your seating, it may be worth paying a little extra for a Main Cabin fare.

Recommendations for choosing main cabin

If you decide that Main Cabin fares are the better option for you, there are a few things to keep in mind when booking your flight. First, it’s important to compare prices and check for any promotions or discounts that may be available.

Airlines often have sales or special deals that can help you save on Main Cabin fares.

Additionally, consider the specific amenities and benefits offered by each airline. American Airlines, for example, offers complimentary snacks and beverages in the Main Cabin, which can enhance your in-flight experience.

It’s also worth checking the airline’s website for any additional perks or benefits that may be exclusive to Main Cabin passengers.


While American Airlines basic economy fares appear tempting with their low price tags, the restrictions around carry-on bags, seat assignments, and boarding make them unappealing for many travelers. Understanding these limitations can help you decide if basic economy works for your next trip or if you’re better off sticking to main cabin fares.

For most flyers, the conveniences that come with main cabin tickets outweigh the small amount of savings offered by basic economy. Paying a bit more upfront lets you avoid the hassle of checking bags and the risk of getting stuck with middle seats at the back of the plane.

Carefully weigh both options as you search for your next American Airlines flight.

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