Stephanie Hallett
November 17, 2016 10:17 am
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We know, we know. Airline fees suck. And over the last few years, it feels like carriers have started charging for absolutely everything, making air travel irritatingly — and oftentimes unexpectedly — expensive. So when it was announced this week that some airlines will soon start charging for overheard luggage, it was the ughhhh heard ’round the world.

The nation’s third largest carrier, United Airlines, said this week that it will introduce a new, ultra-low-cost travel class next year called Basic Economy. Passengers will pay a lower fare, but will only be allowed one small carry-on bag that fits beneath a seat, and not a bag that fits in the overhead bin.

Basic Economy passengers will also be unable to change their flights once booked, and will be assigned a seat at boarding — meaning groups and couples could be split up.

The perks of a regular Economy-class ticket will remain the same as they are now and include a carry-on bag and one personal item, seat selection at purchase, more flexible flight-change options, and the opportunity to accrue points toward Premier status.

United’s executive vice president, Julia Haywood, said in a statement that the airline made the decision to introduce new flight classes (more will be added next year) at the request of travelers. She said,

Travelers, though, are understandably frustrated. On Twitter, users have wondered, “What’s next, bring your own seat?”

And while we totally agree that charging travelers more to use the overhead bin seems frustrating at first, the good news is that this change does provide another, cheaper option for anyone who needs to get somewhere quickly without a lot of luggage.

Plus, since we don’t yet know how much cheaper Basic Economy tickets will be, the new system may offer commuters who travel between cities for a work a way to get to their destinations more quickly and at a price comparable to train or bus travel.

Other major airlines are expected to follow suit, though none have announced changes this week. In the meantime, we’ll try and become lighter packers!

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