American Basic Economy Fares Are Now On Sale In 10 Markets

Filed Under: American

A bit over a month ago we learned the full details of American’s new basic economy fares. Delta was the first to introduce basic economy fares a couple of years back, though both American and United are following Delta’s lead, and are actually making these fares even more restrictive than Delta has.

American passengers booking basic economy fares:

  • Won’t be able to select seats in advance; instead they’ll automatically be assigned seats at check-in, or they can pay to assign seats 48 hours out
  • No upgrades are permitted, even for elite members
  • Only a personal item can be taken on the plane, and not a full size carry-on
  • They’ll have to board with the last boarding group
  • Tickets are non-refundable and non-changeable, even at a fee
  • Full redeemable miles and elite qualifying dollars will be awarded for these fares, though only half elite qualifying miles and segments will be awarded


Elite members and co-brand credit card holders are exempt from the carry-on limitations and having to board with the last group, though the other rules still apply.

So if you’re an elite member and value the perks of your status, you’ll definitely want to shy away from these fares. Furthermore, if you’re someone who typically carries on a bag and cares where you sit, you’ll also want to avoid these fares.

The legacy carriers suggest that these fares are intended to compete with the ultra low cost carriers like Spirit, though I’m not sure I buy that argument. After all, it’s not like we’ve seen U.S. carriers lower fares with the introduction of basic economy. Instead they’ve just used it as a way of trying to get passengers to pay more. Furthermore, we’ve seen basic economy fares introduced on plenty of routes not served by low cost carriers.


Well, American basic economy fares will be bookable as of today for travel starting March 1, 2017. American will be rolling out these new fares slowly. As of today, basic economy fares are available in the following 10 markets:


Here are the “key points” American is making about these new fares:

  • These routes were chosen because they provide a variety of competitive situations. Also, this mix of hubs and other cities is a good fit for preparing our airport operation for Basic Economy
  • Pricing and availability of Basic Economy will always vary based on supply and demand
  • This is the first phase, with more cities to come in the months ahead

As of the time of this post these new fares aren’t yet bookable, though they should be within a few hours. As a matter of fact, as of now I’m seeing “main cabin” tickets not for sale in many of these markets, presumably because they’re updating their systems.


But something tells me the prices won’t magically be dropping overnight…

Fortunately these fares are being rolled out slowly, though going forward you’ll want to be a bit more cautious when booking American tickets, and make sure you avoid these basic economy fares.

  1. Are oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members also exempted from the carry-on limitations/boarding group restriction? The AA website mentions AAdvantage members but doesn’t mentioned oneworld members.

  2. Following the great success of the devaluation of the AAdvantage FF program, we now have the first devaluation of purchased travel.

    I waiting for AA to announce their new advertising jingle for this:

    “Pay the same, get even less”…..

  3. I just clicked through a few of these routes on the AA website and they consistently showed “Not Available” in economy and the only seats showing for sale are first class. When looking at the seating chart there is tons of availability in economy on the routes/times I checked. Is there a glitch or do we now go to now?

  4. @Robert Hanson
    Devaluation of purchased travel has been happening ever since they saved a buck by talking that olive out of the salad. 30 years…?

  5. How is this devaluation? Are you aware that you can now buy a r/t let’s say Chicago LA for $120 r/t?! If anything it looks like we want more by payin. Increasingly less…

  6. I see this as simply a way of extracting money for conveniences that used to
    be standard for economy fares. Pay extra to be allowed to put a bag overhead?
    What infinite gall. Too bad that the oligopoly of carriers is able to get away with it.

  7. @Scudder Ok, I agree I guess, but I just don’t find losing one olive from a salad equal to losing the ability of an elite to pick a window or aisle seat. Call me crazy, but I don’t….

    And I don’t think that a single olive cost them a dollar each either, but that’s a different discussion.

  8. This is complete BS. I’ve got a ticket booked on one of these routes and I just checked the new Basic Economy price. It’s the same price as my previously booked fare without the limitations. This isn’t about competing with low cost carriers, it’s about charging more for previously expected service.

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