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, 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.
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
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.
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!
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!
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?