If you don’t have elite status on American there are often very few seats you can select at booking without additional charge other than middle seats.
So paying extra to avoid a basic economy fare just means buying the right to pay more for a seat assignment. You’re often better off buying basic economy and waiting to see what you get at check-in (and if you really want to pay for a seat assignment, you can do that 48 hours prior to travel).
American Airlines basic economy fares used to prevent customers from bringing full-sized carry on bags onto the plane, but they removed that restriction September 5. This restriction was a reason not to fly basic economy, but it was also pushing customers to fly other airlines instead — Delta never had this restriction even on their basic economy fares, and Southwest doesn’t even charge extra for two checked bags.
Basic economy customers without elite status or the airline’s co-brand credit card board last. American is adding bigger overhead bins to their domestic narrowbody fleet. In the mean time if you have a rollaboard and board last you may get stuck having to gate check. That’s still a reason to avoid basic economy fares Or is it?
If you’re flying American Airlines on a basic economy fare take note: starting December 12 customers with peanut allergies can board early so they have a chance to wipe down their seats. Delta already allows this.
American Airlines Group Inc. will allow people who suffer from peanut and tree-nut allergies to board flights early so they can wipe down areas where they will sit to avoid potential exposure to allergens.
The change will take effect Dec. 12 when flight-service manuals are updated, Fort Worth-based American said in a filing Tuesday with the U.S. Transportation Department.
…”Customers with nut allergies who would like to board flights early to wipe down surfaces may ask to do so at the gate,” American said.
So now if you don’t have elite status (and I’d argue, if you aren’t at least a Platinum who can pre-select Main Cabin Extra seats) what exactly is the reason to pay more to avoid basic economy? Just the ability to pay $200 to change a ticket that may not have even cost $200.
At least it’s better than people who request wheelchair assistance when they don’t need it in order to get airport priority since this wouldn’t take away a service from someone that really needs it, or delay them while they wait on a wheel chair.
By the way United Airlines remains the only carrier that still restricts basic economy customers from bringing a carry on bag on board but there’s a loophole for that too: just bring a musical instrument case as your carry on.
I don’t actually recommend misrepresenting your needs. I do think these loopholes speak to the absurdity of the restrictions themselves.