I’ve now heard from readers, seen in my Facebook feed, and read a Flyertalk thread all reporting the same problem with American Airlines Basic Economy: agents are rebooking customers who did not buy Basic Economy tickets into Basic Economy fares when changing their flights as a result of cancellations, such as because of the bad weather going on in the Northeast right now.
Here’s the experience of PDBDrinker,
When I got re-booked for the [Dallas – New York JFK] flight, the agent on the phone said she couldn’t assign me a seat or add me to the upgrade list because “the computer was acting weird.” Fast forward to the airport a couple hours later, I couldn’t select a seat or add myself to the upgrade list via kiosk. Kiosk spits out boarding pass with the booking code “B”…basic economy.
I go to the Admirals Club to try to be put on the upgrade list, but they tell me they can’t do it because I’m in B and there is no way to revert me back to my original booking code. They say they’ve never seen this before and were at a loss. They send me on my way, SOL, nothing they can do because the computer won’t let them.
American Airlines is now selling basic economy fares but they supposedly aren’t even selling those fares between Dallas and New York.
Another similar experience was reported by someone flying Boston to Miami and onward to Costa Rica. When their flight to Miami cancelled they got rebooked Boston to New York LaGuardia to Miami because it’s all that was available. And they were rebooked into Basic Economy.
- American isn’t selling Basic Economy on international routes
- They aren’t selling Basic Economy Boston to Miami, or Boston to New York, or New York to Miami
- They say they aren’t selling Basic Economy on connecting itineraries
And yet this person couldn’t get an advance seat assignment for free and received a boarding pass indicating boarding group 9 (basic economy) and that they weren’t able to bring a full sized carry-on bag on the plane.
There should not be ‘B’ inventory on non-Basic Economy routes. Agents should not be able to rebook customers who did not buy Basic Economy, and click the acknowledgement that they were opting
for self-immolation for a miserable travel experience, into Basic Economy.
We know that it’s possible to be moved out of Basic Economy even after you’ve opted to purchase a Basic Economy fare. So agents can fix this.
Things get a little more complicated when you’re booked into Basic Economy on a sold out flight, you need an agent who understands how to temporarily oversell the flight in a higher booking class and then cancel out the B space.
It turns out that American’s implementation of Basic Economy wasn’t ready for prime time if they’re sticking it to customers who didn’t even buy basic economy and agree to its restrictions, and then having agents who throw up their hands unable to help (like a result of training agents in key strokes with a graphical interface, but not giving them the tools to understand the systems they’re working in).
Update: An American spokesperson shares how they’re addressing this:
We apologize to the customers who have been affected. To make sure this situation doesn’t happen again, we have closed B inventory on non-Basic Economy routes to prevent accidental re-booking in this fare class. Also, we will follow up on previous internal communications with new reminders that only customers who purchased Basic Economy should be re-accommodated on B tickets, to make sure that customers are rebooked in the appropriate class of service.