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In the modern day competitive world of airfare, with no-frills low-cost airlines competing with legacy carriers, there is a definite change—more and more legacy carriers are offering a “basic” economy fares; you get a seat, and that is about it. American Airlines is the latest to announce the introduction of basic economy fares, in the wake of other carriers such as United and Delta.
What Are the Details of American Airlines' Basic Economy Fare
The new basic economy fare from AA will offer fewer perks than standard main cabin tickets. The key differences are:
- No large carry-ons are permitted onboard; passengers will be allowed to bring one small personal item that can fit under the seat in front of you. Bringing a large bag that needs to be checked at the gate will be charged a $25 fee. Elite members and holders of AA co-branded credit cards will be exempted from this, as well as maintaining access to their standard checked baggage allowance
- You will not be able to reserve your seat in advance; you can pay for an assigned seat within 48 hours from the date of departure. Otherwise, seats will be assigned at random by AA’s internal system. To keep families together, the system will try and keep children under 13 seated with an adult
- Basic Economy fares will board last. However, elite members and co-branded credit cardholders will board in the group they would have boarded with regularly if they were holding any other economy ticket
- Upgrades and same day flight changes or standby are not allowed
- No changes are permitted at all even for a fee
- The basic economy tickets will earn 100% EQDs (Elite Qualifying Dollars), and only 50% EQMs (Elite Qualifying Miles) and EQSs (Elite Qualifying Segments)
- For Transatlantic Basic Economy travel, a $75 1st bag fee applies for tickets issued on/after April 21, 2020.
Comparisons to Delta and United
These fares provide a relatively similar experience to what you'd get with Delta and United. Better than United, but not as good as Delta. United members only earn award miles and no credit towards elite status. Delta members will earn award and elite miles when using basic economy fares, and they're not limited from bringing a bag for the overhead bin — but still, no seat selection/changes/upgrades.
This move by American was to be expected and keeps with the trend undertaken by most legacy carriers. We guess these new basic fare classes are intended to enable airlines like AA, Delta and United to compete with low-cost carriers — will it happen, though? We're skeptical at best.
Source: American Airlines
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