Change Your Altitude
American Airlines 787-800. Credit: American Airlines

American Airlines Announces New Basic Economy Fare

Of the three legacy carriers, Delta Airlines (DL) was the first to market with their basic economy fares in 2015, to compete with ultra-low cost carriers like Spirit and Frontier. United Airlines (UA) announced that they would offer similar fares in late 2016, effective 2017, though with far more restrictions. Well, it looks like American Airlines (AA) is throwing their hat into the ring.


The Scoop

Today, American Airlines announced that they will be offering basic economy fares in the Main Cabin starting in February. The fare will offer the following limitations:

  • Seat assigned at check in
  • Personal item only, must fit under seat in front of you
  • Additional $25 fee for luggage if checked at the gate
  • Last boarding group (with the exception of AAdvantage elite)
  • Non refundable tickets, nonchangeable
  • Reduced mileage earned towards elite status (half EQMs and half EQS)
  • Eligible to earn redeemable miles

Like Delta and United, once on board, the experience will be the same as other Main Cabin fares.

American Airlines' 777-300ER Main Cabin

American Airlines’ 777-300ER Main Cabin. Credit: American Airlines


The Takeaway

I’m not surprised to see this announcement come through. These days, it seems like when one legacy carrier does something, it’s only a matter of time before the rest follow suite.

Given the uproar about United’s basic economy fare restrictions (read: no carry on luggage), I was interested in seeing how strict American Airlines’s fare would be. It seems to fall somewhere in between United’s and Delta in terms of limitations. While passengers can earn redeemable and (limited) elite qualifying miles (which UA does not permit with these fares), passengers still can’t bring a carry on luggage (which DL does permit).

Either way, cheaper fares are good for passengers, so this will certainly make the market more competitive for all carriers.


What do you think about American’s basic economy fares? 


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