TravelPlex likes to keep our clients apprised of all the new and exciting things going on in the travel business. While this blog offers neither, it is intended to advise you that another airline is playing copycat to what United began, and Delta Airlines followed, late last year. 

Effective February 10th, American Airlines will replicate the other two legacy carriers' decision to offer a “lower fare” to consumers. Like the other two carriers, these fares are not so much lower price wise, as they are extremely restrictive and very unfriendly to the business traveler. 

The new fares, “Basic Economy”, sound a lot like the other airlines' obstructive fares. These “rock-bottom” prices come with many restrictions (listed below) and offer no access to overhead bin storage for any carry-on. One carry-on item that must fit under the seat in front of you is allowed.

The carrier offered the following rationale. “American Airlines now has something to offer every customer, from those who want simple, low-price travel to those who want an ultra-premium experience via First Class,” American Airlines President Robert Isom said in a statement. 

The big three carriers have been losing market share to low-cost airlines such as Southwest, JetBlue and Frontier as carriers continue to push fares lower to capture travelers. 

Here’s what you will get – or WON’T get - with American’s new Basic Economy fare:

  • The same in-flight experience, including soft drinks, snacks, and the same (middle) seats.
  • Frequent flyer miles. With a catch. Full AAdvantage miles and Elite Qualifying Dollars may be earned when purchasing these fares, but only one-half Elite Qualifying Miles will be earned per mile.
  • Seat assignments are made automatically and only when customers check in. These will be middle seats. Unless…. you pay for a seat assignment, which can be purchased 48 hours prior to the flight.
  • No early boarding. This group will be the last boarding group and will be seated in the Main Cabin. 
  • Tickets are 100% non-refundable, non-changeable. Use it or lose it. No same-day flight changes.

These fares are intended for people who do not travel often and do not realize the restrictions these fares carry. Travelers see the lower price and jump on it, thinking it’s a great deal. Like the Delta and United fares, TravelPlex will be unable to intercede on the traveler’s behalf should these new fares be purchased. That means should any issue arise, including any emergency (after hour) needs/changes, the ticket will be worthless. 

Click this link to read a Travel Pulse article with more information about American Airlines' new fares