Air France KLM has announced plans to adopt hand baggage only (HBO) fares on transatlantic routes from next year.

A new range of economy fares has gone on sale for flights departing Europe from April 10, 2018.

There will be three main economy tariffs for flights between Europe and USA/Canada. These are:

  • Light – essentially an HBO fare (checked luggage is charged at €50 per piece)
  • Standard – some flexibility with one piece of luggage included
  • Standard Plus – a range of more flexible fares plus one piece of checked luggage

Note that all economy passengers will continue to receive free catering and drinks as at present.

Also bear in mind that while these tariffs apply from all of Europe to North America there are limited restrictions in the reverse direction.

The question must be why? It is because as we explained in Battle for the Atlantic in the November issue of Business Traveller, all traditional airlines are facing intense price competition from long-haul low-cost carriers (LCCs).

A typical economy passenger will choose a flight based on what’s termed the headline price. HBO tariffs enable traditional carriers to quote lower lead-in prices.

TAP Air Portugal and Aer Lingus have both started offering HBO fares on transatlantic routes.

US carrier Delta and Italian flag carrier Alitalia (which operate joint ventures with Air France KLM) are also set to launch HBO fares, and we await more details.

One wonders when carriers like American, United, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and the Lufthansa Group will follow? (American has already expressed a wish to extend its Basic Economy fares to transatlantic routes).,