Beware! American Airlines Now Selling VERY Restrictive Fares on Select Routes

Disclosure: We get a commission for links on the blog. You don’t have to use our links, but we’re very grateful when you do. American Express, Barclaycard, Capital One, Chase, and US Bank are Million Mile Secrets advertising partners. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by our partners. Here’s our Advertiser Disclosure.

Last month, I shared the news about American Airlines’ plan to begin selling “Basic Economy” tickets.

And now, via One Mile at a Time and View From the Wing, American Airlines is officially selling Basic Economy tickets.  And United Airlines will soon do the same!  You can now buy American Airlines Basic Economy tickets for flights after March 1, 2017.

American Airlines Basic Economy

American Airlines Is Letting You Book a Ticket Worse Than Regular Old Coach

I’ll remind you what to expect when you buy a Basic Economy ticket, and help you decide if it’s something you should do.

American Airlines Basic Economy

Link:   American Airlines Selling Basic Economy Tickets

As of today, you can book American Airlines Basic Economy tickets for flights on or after March 1, 2017.  Basic Economy is a step below a coach fare, and VERY restrictive.  It’s supposedly American Airlines’ way of competing with airlines like Spirit and Frontier Airlines (and other major airlines rolling out a “Basic Economy” option!).

Here’s what you can expect with a Basic Economy fare:

  • You can NOT choose your own seat
  • You can NOT upgrade your seat (even if you have elite status)
  • You can NOT take a carry-on bag – only 1 personal item that must fit under the seat
  • You must board with the last boarding group
  • Your ticket is NOT refundable or changeable, even for a fee
  • You will only get half elite qualifying miles and segments (but full redeemable miles and elite qualifying dollars)

You can currently buy American Airlines’ Basic Economy tickets on 10 routes:

  • Charlotte to Orlando
  • Dallas – Fort Worth to Baltimore
  • Dallas – Fort Worth to Tampa
  • Dallas – Fort Worth to Philadelphia
  • Miami to Tampa
  • Miami to New Orleans
  • Philadelphia to New Orleans
  • Philadelphia to Fort Lauderdale
  • Philadelphia to Charlotte
  • Philadelphia to Miami

On most routes I looked at, Basic Economy was exactly $20 cheaper (though on some flights the difference was even LESS than $20).  Considering all the restrictions that come with Basic Economy, most people will do better paying the extra $20.

American Airlines Basic Economy

Basic Economy Fares Tend to Be ~$20 Less Than Regular Coach. But Not Always! There Are a Few Basic Economy Seats From Philadelphia to Miami That Are Just $15 Less

When you click Basic Economy, a message pops up asking if you’d like to upgrade to a regular coach ticket.  While I think it’s usually annoying when websites try to up-sell me, I’m glad there is a pop-up to let me know just how awful the ticket is that I’ve selected.  That way folks will be less likely to accidentally buy a Basic Economy ticket!

American Airlines Basic Economy

American Airlines Doesn’t Want You to Suffer! They’ll Upgrade You to Regular Coach for a Fee

Who Should Book American Airlines Basic Economy?

For most folks, Basic Economy is NOT a good deal!  For example, if you’re traveling with a companion, there is no guarantee you’ll get to sit together, because you can’t choose your own seats.  And you aren’t allowed to have a carry-on, so if you have one you’ll need to check it for $25.

However, if you have an American Airlines co-branded credit card, like the Citi American Airlines Platinum Select (and aren’t concerned about elite status), these fares aren’t so bad.  That’s because:

  • You WILL be allowed a carry-on item
  • You will NOT need to board with the last boarding group

You’ll still earn the full amount of redeemable miles no matter what, which I like!

Bottom Line

American Airlines is now selling Basic Economy tickets on 10 US routes for travel on or after March 1, 2017.  These fares are very restrictive, so read the terms of the ticket before you decide to buy it!  A more expensive coach seat is probably the better deal for most folks.

Do you think the new American Airlines Basic Economy fare is a good deal?

* If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 25,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

427 responses to “Beware! American Airlines Now Selling VERY Restrictive Fares on Select Routes

  1. I think Basic Economy will severely damage American’s reputation.

  2. Great option but not for everyone

  3. In a word: terrible.

  4. I understand the competitive reason but to not offer some basic perks (free bag, seat choice) to Aadvantage status members doesn’t make sense. Why no love for some loyal flyers?

  5. Two words: really bad.

  6. I worked hard just to get to gold status. I want an aisle or at worst a window seat. If I am flying with any type of carry on I need to board with the earliest group I am entitled to ( group 4 I think now ) so I can throw my carry on above my seat or any where forward of my seat if those spaces are gone. I want the opportunity ( slim as it is) for an upgrade, that is one of the few hopeful things I have to hold onto when I fly. I usually need to deplane as soon as possible to make my next connection so I need to sit as far forward as I can get. I need the max elite qualifying miles I can get so I don’t have to buy basic economy next year. So for 20 or so dollars basic economy is not an option for me.

  7. Not looking forward to this trend!

  8. Definitely not a fan of Basic Economy!

  9. I don’t think it would work for most people.

  10. I think AA’s Basic Economy fares are much too restrictive for many, including me personally, to purchase but I’d guess there are some travelers who are just interested in the cheapest fare who will purchase them.

  11. This is a race to the bottom. There are other ways to increase revenues
    and loyalty to airlines.

  12. My life has some value, there fore this level is not worth the struggle to comply at all!

  13. I think it might be great for my husband and I to get some cheap trips in there, but likely it won’t be good.

  14. Awful. Bad idea. American Airlines is now competing with Spirit Airlines for title of Worst Airline in America.

  15. Not a good idea! I will steer clear and pay the extra $20! This may be a good deal for a select few, but not for me!

  16. Certainly not a fan since I am 6’4″, and sitting in a middle seat is never worth it to me.

  17. Since you will have to pay for a carry on bag, I don’t think the $20 price difference is worth it. I would rather pay the $20, I rarely travel without a carry on bag. So this does not seem like something i would do. Not a fan a budget airlines

  18. Not great for consumers.

  19. Not for me but if it saves others money, why not?

  20. good competing option for those that can handle restrictive fares

  21. I don’t think I’d be such a fan of this. I so love sitting with my husband and sharing the airplane experience together…

  22. I’m unclear on whether you can check a bag. For those who hold/use a Citibank credit card that provides a free checked bag, is that respected with this? If so, maybe it is worth gambling a seat in order to save money. Getting a seat assignment ahead of time doesn’t guarantee that you won’t be blocked in by a nasty seatmate when you need to go to the toilet or that you’ll get to use the armrest. But I’m not sure I’d go for these restrictions for the savings. I think they’re testing the market, working on further putting a value on what we desire.

  23. Not great and out of date.

  24. Its not a bad option if you are very flexible about carry on’s.

  25. I think that’s a horrible price to pay to save $20!!

  26. Good for some, bad for others!

  27. I think that it is not a good idea. I want to be able to select my seat and avoid flying in a middle seat.