Etihad Testing Hand Baggage Only Fares

Etihad is taking the next step towards becoming a no frills carrier like British Airways. They’re testing Hand Baggage Only fares.

Etihad Airways is testing a new hand baggage-only ‘Deal Fare’ on two key routes this winter season, for bookings between 18th October and 18th December, allowing travellers to purchase lower cost seats in Economy Class if no checked baggage is required.

The trial fare includes a complimentary carry-on baggage allowance of 7kg and is available on flights between Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Kuwait for travel until 31st March 2018.

Waiting at an Abu Dhabi Bus Gate

British Airways introduced ‘HBO fares’ in February 2013 on the Amsterdam, Dubrovnik, Jersey, Tunis and Turin routes. This was British Airways’ version of ‘basic economy’ and denied even elites from checking luggage. Anyone with a checked bag needed to buy up to a higher fare.

In March 2015 BA even eliminated advance seat selection for HBO fares, but this summer again started allowing elites to select seats for free. British Airways of course eliminated free food and beverages in short haul economy, now extra strong tea costs $6. (US Airways was the real pioneer here attempting to make a charge for water stick back in 2008.)

Airlines always spin these moves as somehow doing something for the customer, and Etihad is of course claiming these will be new lower fares that meet the needs of passengers who don’t check bags.

They give away the plot, though, explaining that this is all about “diversify[ing] its revenues in line with digital capabilities” and is a part of their overall efforts at “new ancillary products including extra legroom seats, neighbour-free seats and preferred seating.”

Terminal 1 – Terminal 3 Transit in Abu Dhabi

Etihad expects that this will be “the first of many trials the airline plans to initiate over coming months…” Their customers can’t wait.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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