American Airlines Basic Economy Fare Restrictions Announced
In a move that surprises absolutely no one, American Airlines has announced the rollout of new “Basic Economy” fares. These fares are largely designed to compete with low cost carriers such as Frontier and Spirit and are far more restricted.
According to American, “Basic Economy fares will go on sale in February in 10 select markets, with the first flights occurring shortly thereafter and expansion to additional markets expected later this year. Not every American Airlines flight will offer Basic Economy fares.” Expect these fares in markets with greater competition, especially from low cost carriers.
Basic Economy Fares come with the following restrictions:
- 1 item that fits under the seat (no access to overhead bins)
- Seats assigned at check-in
- Fees to choose a specific seat
- No upgrades no matter your elite status
- No flight changes or refunds at all
- Last group boarding
Here is how these restrictions compare to their normal economy fares:
Elite Status & EQMs
One other thing of note is that these fares earn full Elite Qualifying Dollars and redeemable miles, however they only earn 1/2 the EQMs of a normal fare. This means that you will qualify for elite status slower and of course your elite status doesn’t matter for upgrades or choosing seats ahead of time either.
You can find the full press release along with FAQs about Basic Economy on the AA website.
We simply don’t live in the same generous world of aviation loyalty that we used to. Given the rollout of similar fares from other airlines, this doesn’t come as a surprise. Will this actually lower fares for customers or just make American force elites and other customers to pony up for higher costing tickets?
Only time will tell, but these fares combined with American’s horrible operations (in my experience), the Citi Prestige devaluation and the AAdvantage devaluation make flying on AA less desirable now than ever. What do you think?