Last week FareCompare noted a new experiment being conducted by American Airlines: Anyone who agrees to forgo using a carry-on bag will get the privilege of early boarding.
We’ve been getting some questions about this and here are some answers.
What Airports are Involved?
At this point, according to media reports, the experiment is being conducted at four U.S. airports: Baltimore, Austin, Washington-Dulles and Ft. Lauderdale. American is being somewhat cagey about these tests, only saying they will do this for a limited time before analyzing the results.
Is This a Good Deal?
Hard to say. Passengers give up the convenience of a carry-on – or at least, a large carry-on, since it only applies to bags that must be stowed in overhead bins as opposed to under the seat in front of you. If you have give up your carry-on in favor of a checked-bag, you will pay the one-way checked baggage fee of $25.
Note: As others have pointed out, one of the main reason travelers like early boarding, is so they’ll be able to find bin space for bags. If you don’t have a bag, well, no need for the bin space now, is there?
Why is American Doing This
All airlines want to streamline boarding procedures. Over the years, we’ve seen experiments in fee-based early boarding, scientific studies on faster boarding conducted by an astrophysicist center, do-it-yourself robotic boarding and more. The quicker the boarding process, the quicker planes leave on time and that’s important since these figures are published on a monthly basis by the Department of Transportation – which could be construed as a kind of public shaming.
But as The Los Angeles Times points out, there’s money at stake too and they quote a transportation study that says every minute cut from the boarding process can save $30 per flight and while that may not seem like much, “those savings can add up for a carrier like American Airlines, which operates an average of 3,400 flights per day.”