Gate check feesAs you likely know by now, all three major U.S. airlines have introduced Basic Economy (here’s my story on American’s product) fares for flyers. The idea is that a seat in Basic Economy is less than the cost of a standard Economy seat, but there are plenty of tradeoffs, like less legroom, fewer amenities/services and more.

This story (among others) highlights another, particularly irksome part of Basic Economy on American and United: gate check fees. In short, both airlines are now charging Basic Economy customers an extra amount if their carry-on bags have to be checked at the gate because a bag is too big or heavy to carry on. From the story:

“Most passengers don’t get charged a baggage fee when planes run out of overhead bin space and bags must be checked. They are entitled to two carry-on items: a small one under the seat and a larger one overhead. Not so with Basic Economy on United and American. (Delta’s Basic Economy does allow an overhead bin bag.)

Vishnu Bhargava and his wife were flying on United from San Francisco to Boston in late July and didn’t notice the conditions of Basic Economy tickets. He checked in the night before, paid for one checked bag and planned to bring two carry-ons. He didn’t read the small print.

When they got to the gate, they were told their carry-on bags would have to be checked. His cost $50—the standard bag fee plus the gate handling charge. His wife’s was $60, since she had already checked one bag. United charges $35 for a second bag, plus the extra fee.

‘I was shocked,’ says Mr. Bhargava, a retired physician from India. ‘Whatever I saved with Basic Economy, I had to pay more. This fee is not at all fair.'”

So, know what you’re paying for, and be aware of your airline’s baggage policy.

H/T to Scott McCartney of The Wall Street Journal.

Related: My New Carry-On Bag



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3 Comments On "Beware of Gate Check Fees When You Fly Basic Economy"
  1. Amy|

    American Airlines puts up a big message about this when you are booking a flight – and asks you to confirm that you want basic economy or want to upgrade to regular economy. Their message says you may only carry on a bag that will fit under the seat in front of you. I hate this concept – but at least they are clearly communicating it on the front end.

  2. Trish McDermott|

    Good to know Johnny. Any idea if gate-checked strollers are still free in Basic Economy?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Good question. I don’t think so

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