American Airlines Launches New Basic Economy Fares


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American Airlines has launched their new Basic Economy Fares, similar to what both carriers are already offering. Delta offers Basic Economy fares and United will be already offering this year.

American’s new Basic Economy fares go on sale starting next month in select markets, though they will be rolled out to more routes down the road. One of the biggest things that stands out is Basic Economy customers who bring a carry-on bag to the gate that won’t fit under the seat will be charged the regular bag fee to check it, plus another $25 Gate Service Fee.

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Per American Airlines, here’s a look at their Basic Economy rules: 

In-flight experience – The same in-flight experience that all Main Cabin customers receive today, including free entertainment options, soft drinks, and snacks, and the same seats.

Seat assignments – Made automatically and only when customers check in. Paid seat assignments can be purchased 48 hours before the flight.

Upgrades – Not permitted, regardless of elite status level.

Bags – One personal carry-on item that fits under the seat (such as a purse or small backpack) is allowed. No overhead bin luggage may be brought on board. Larger carry-ons such as a rollerboard bag must be checked at the ticket counter for the applicable checked-baggage charge. Basic Economy customers who bring more than an under-seat personal item to the gate will incur regular checked baggage charges plus a $25 gate service charge per bag.

Elite customers and eligible AAdvantage® credit cardmembers will be allowed to bring one personal item, one rollerboard, and they maintain their current free checked bag allowance.

Boarding – Basic Economy customers will comprise the last boarding group and will be seated in the Main Cabin. Elite customers and eligible AAdvantage® credit cardmembers will continue to receive Priority or preferred boarding even when purchasing this fare.

Tickets – Non-refundable, non-changeable. Use it or lose it. No same-day flight change or same-day standby.

AAdvantage – Full AAdvantage miles and Elite Qualifying Dollars may be earned when purchasing these fares; however, only one-half Elite Qualifying Mile will be earned per mile flown, and one-half Elite Qualifying Segment per segment flown.

Bottom Line

Delta has had Basic Economy for a while now, and it’s more common to see them offering Basic Economy on a flight than not, so it was only a matter of time before the others such as American add it.

If you’re an AAdvantage elite member you’ll want to stay clear of booking these Basic Economy fares though since you’ll only earn half the Elite Qualifying Miles and Segments when flying on them!

What are your thoughts on American’s new Basic Economy fare? Will you be booking it to save some money, or do you plan on staying clear of them?

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed on this site are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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  1. American Airlines is already implementing the scheme of choosing the seat only at the airport for a discounted economy ticket. Last December I went to Europe for a $550 economy class ticket purchased through American Airlines. Outbound on BA I was able to assign the seat and checking online within 24 hours of the departure.

    The inbound through American Airlines changed due to BA flight cancellation, even at the airport the agent was not able to assign a preferred seat like a window seat. The computer automatically assigned me the middle seat. The agent said she was not able to override the seat assigned by the computer.

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