American Unveils Its Basic Economy Product

by Michele McDonald
American Unveils Its Basic Economy Product


American Airlines today unveiled the details of its version of the basic economy product, which it plans to start selling in late February on select routes.

American is taking a page from United Airlines, adopting its controversial restriction on stowage of carry-on bags. Basic economy passengers will not have access to overhead bins, though they may stow a small personal item under the seat in front of them.

Unlike Delta or United, however, American will allow passengers to select a specific seat within 48 hours of departure, though a fee will apply. 

In other respects, the three carriers’ basic economy fares have similar attributes: They all prohibit voluntary tickets changes and upgrades of any kind regardless of status, and they require basic economy passengers to board in the last group.

All three carriers, however, make some concessions for their elite frequent flyers and upgraded AAdvantage-branded credit card holders. For example, elite flyers can use the overhead bins. They also can board with their usual group. (That makes it easier for ground staff to spot other basic economy passengers who are toting bags too large to fit under a seat.) Elite status passengers may also use their checked-bag allowances.

All three carriers emphasize that aside from the denial of overhead bin access, basic economy passengers will have the same onboard experience as other economy passengers. When free beverages, snacks or inflight entertainment are offered in economy, they are offered to all.

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