These Domestic Airlines still allow Free Carry-On

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Basic Economy fares have taken the airline industry by storm over the last several years . If you’re not aware, Basic Economy was rolled out with the idea that passengers were empowered to choose whether they wanted seat assignment, carry-on, etc. In reality, Basic Economy is simply a ploy to charge you more for what you previously got for free. Before you get pigeonholed into unexpected fees, consider the following U.S. domestic airlines that have yet to roll out these ugly new fares



As JetBlue continues its quest to compete with the major U.S. carriers, it’s low cost fares still pack in all the perks that savvy passengers want. No matter the fare category, JetBlue allows passengers a complimentary carry-on bag in addition to a personal item. It’s also worth noting JetBlue provides customers with the most legroom in coach with a seat pitch of 34″ in comparison to the industry average of 30-31″.

There’s no fee for advanced seat assignment, and JetBlue is the only U.S. airline to offer free gate to gate WiFi access. With all these great perks, Mr. TT is excited that JetBlue will be expanding to Minneapolis in May!



Staying true to their “Transfarency” marketing, Southwest continues to allow passengers two free checked bags, complimentary carry-on, and no fees to change flights. The world’s largest low-cost carrier specializes is U.S. domestic flights but has expanded its travel to various international destinations that are likely tropical and south of the border. The big news this year, is that Southwest will be adding Hawaii routes in late 2018 or early 2019.

While passengers either love it or hate it; there’s no prior seat assignments on Southwest. If you want to jockey for the best seat position, you need to check-in immediately 24 hours before departure. If you want to cheat the system, you can purchase EarlyBird Check-in, which automatically checks you in for only $15.

Thrifty Tip: Want to know one of the most valuable perks in the points game? Check out the Southwest Companion Pass.


Alaska Airlines / Virgin America 

A longtime staple airline for the Pacific Northwest, Alaska Airlines has expanded their route network with the merger of Virgin America in 2017. Both airlines allow a complimentary carry-on bags along with a personal item in the varying class categories, in addition to free advanced seat assignment.

Inflight entertainment is also complimentary and WiFi-enabled flights can use iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger at no cost. Alaska and Virgin America will complete their merger under the Alaska brand in 2019. 

Thrifty Tip: Alaska does not have a change or cancellation fee for changes made more than 60 days before departure.


Hawaiian Airlines

Whether you’re Hawaiian island hopping or jetting to the mainland from one of the hubs that lie mostly within major west coast cities, Hawaiian Airlines is another option to avoid the dreaded Basic Economy fare. While checked bags still require a fee on Hawaiian, one carry one and personal item are still complimentary for all passengers.

Upgrading to preferred seats is an additional charge as well, but basic seat selection is complimentary. There is however an interesting “lost paper ticket” fee that if traveling outside neighboring islands is $100.

Thrifty Tip: Hawaiian does offer complimentary sport check for surf, kite, paddle and wake boards on non-stop flights between the U.S. and Australia or New Zealand.


Delta Air Lines

All Delta fares include free carry-on and earn Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) towards elite status (even Basic Economy). That’s where the fun ends. Basic Economy fares won’t be assigned a seat until check-in or at the gate (hello middle seat) and you are also in the last boarding group.  It’s also possible you won’t have space for your carry-on bag in the overhead bins in the last boarding group. Yuck, but it’s still better than American or United’s Basic Economy fares.


Bottom Line 

It won’t come as a surprise that all of the airlines mentioned above (except Delta) are customer focused and get a lot of love from passengers. While the U.S. legacy airlines such as American, Delta, and United continue to nickel and dime us, there are still some holdouts.  I imagine we’ll see these airlines slowly change over to the Basic Economy model over time, but for now it’s important to get these free perks while you can.


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