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American and United overhead bin fees: A ripple effect ?

American and United overhead bin fees: A ripple effect ?

NewYork Senator Charles Schumer has threatened legislation if airlines continue to monetize every atom, the Senate minority leader said Sunday.

His target: Overhead bin fees. American Airlines recently announced that it would join United Airlines in instituting such a policy and Schumer feared a ripple effect the move will have on other carriers.

United announced late last year that it would adopt an overhead bin fee as part of the company’s change in pricing model. Under the new “Basic Economy” fare, travelers will be allowed to store a carry-on that fits below the seat, but will be charged extra if they want to lay claim to overhead real estate on their flights. More expensive Economy tickets still provide bin storage without additional charges.

The company has argued that, in creating a “new tier” of ticket, it has made airfare more affordable for flyers willing to travel lightly. Several weeks later, American Airlines unveiled a similar new policy with the same framing.

American Airlines liked the idea and argued it will now have something to offer to every passenger, from those who want simple low price transportation to those who want ultra premium First Class.

“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,” said American Airlines President Robert Isom in statement announcing the news. “Importantly, this new fare product also gives American the ability to compete more effectively with the growing number of ultra low-cost carriers.”

“I’m announcing that in the upcoming FAA bill, which regulates the airlines, I’m going to lead a push to expand the airline passenger bill of rights…to add provisions so they don’t allow these extra fees for the overhead and for some other things—because enough is enough,” Senator Schumer said at a press conference in New York.

“Jet fuel prices are low; competition is narrow because there are so few airlines,” continued Schumer. “Profits are way up and they’re gouging the consumer.”

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