These are the key elements — new restrictions on the lowest priced tickets:
- Last group to board, no full sized carry on allowed (“personal item only”).
- No residual ticket value for changes, no same day changes or standby, use it or lose it.
- Seat assignments at check-in or for an extra charge 48 hours before travel.
- No upgrades.
- 100% of redeemable miles and elite qualifying dollars (which are earned based on fare), but only 50% elite qualifying miles and 50% elite qualifying segments.
- No re-accommodation on other airlines if your flight goes mechanical, and bottom of the list for automatic re-accommodation on other American flights.
Elite frequent flyers still get priority boarding, and that lets them bring on a full-sized carry on bag.
JonNYC tweets some new internal information about American’s basic economy fares. He says this is information he “*believe[s]* to be accurate.”
There’s a couple of things in here I didn’t know.
- If American cancels your flight, they will not put you on another airline if you purchased a Basic Economy fare. Elites are apparently exempt from this restriction.
- It’s possible to ‘buy up’ to a more expensive coach fare, and avoid Basic Economy restrictions post-purchase, if you say you weren’t aware of what you were buying. This might be a more credible claim if you’ve booked through something other than an American Airlines channel.
Be careful out there with these Basic Economy fares. You can get the airline’s co-brand credit card and you’ll have priority boarding, avoiding the carry on bag restriction. And then you can pay for a seat assignment 48 hours from departure — including buying a Main Cabin Extra seat.
But these aren’t a ‘deal’ they’re a way to get you to spend more money than you were spending on the cheapest tickets, by making those cheap tickets less of a good deal.
Fundamentally American (and United) think they’re going to make more money by making their product less attractive. They expect you’ll then give them more money to avoid their least expensive product. Of course Delta’s cheapest fares still allow carry on bags, and Southwest even offers checked bags free.