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American Airlines Rolls Out Basic Economy Nationwide

American Airlines Rolls Out Basic Economy Nationwide

American Airlines’ goal was to roll out Basic Economy nationwide by the end of September, and it seems that they are running ahead of schedule. As of the morning of September 5, 2017, AA has rolled out Basic Economy to every domestic route.

What does this mean for you? If you want to have the same travel experience on AA, you’ll have to shell out more cash. If you don’t, you’ll be restricted in a number of ways.

  • Elites aren’t eligible for upgrades when booked in Basic Economy
  • Basic Economy customers are last to board the plane
  • No carry on bag allowed – only a personal item
  • No same day changes, refunds, or standby flying
  • Seat assignments available at checkin or 48 hours ahead of time for an extra charge
  • No reaccommodation on other airlines in the case of mechanical delays/cancellations
At this time, Basic Economy has not yet been rolled out to all North American routes. If you are flying to Canada, Mexico, or other destinations abroad, you aren’t yet going to be restricted by Basic Economy fare classes.
Also, for the time being, low level saver domestic awards are not booking as basic economy. Now that the cash fares are higher for many routes, the value proposition for using miles may be changed. Always check the flight prices in cash and compare with the mileage cost before booking a ticket, and make sure you are comparing equal fare classes, especially if you plan to bring a full-size carry-on onboard.
View Comments (8)


  1. BC Shelby

    September 7, 2017 at 9:19 am

    …ah, yes true Cattle Class’ is here to stay. Better get used to that accursed middle seat or one in the back that doesn’t recline because that’s pretty much all that will be left.

    Since you no longer can take any a carry on into the cabin, it’s time to cough up even, more in baggage fees as well as concern for damaged or pilfered items. Also does this extend to purses, briefcases, and kids backpacks as you can only bring one “item” (singular) on board? If so the luggage fees alone will negate any savings for putting yourself through even more torture than already exists on domestic air service these days .

    Crikey, we may see cargo pants and bush jackets (with their many pockets) become the new style for the savvy air traveller.

  2. dogcanyon

    September 7, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Then what’s the incentive to fly AA? Why not just go ahead and fly Spirit? The ones I feel sorry for are the AA employees who will have to enforce these new rules and explain to people about to board that they can’t bring a carry-on, won’t be re-accommodated on a mechanical cancellation, etc. What a mess. Can they go any lower? If past experience is any indication, yes.

  3. northernlights1

    September 8, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    Checked a couple of sample routes for Basic Economy. Compared to WN. WN was only about 5-10 dollars more. So who would pick AA over WN? free bag, no change fees, etc on WN. Ive never before booked more travel on WN, lately because AA has cut back directs to PHX. Maybe time to start pivoting away from AA.

  4. Boggie Dog

    September 16, 2017 at 8:44 am

    This change by AA is disappointing and just another way to nickle and dime customers. Going to have to reconsider my choice of airlines going forward. AA is certainly not customer oriented. In my opinion this was not a wise move by AA management.

  5. RAAng

    September 22, 2017 at 3:57 am

    This might be somewhat palatable for some people if they actually lowered the fare to go along with the reduced amenities, but, in fact, you have to pay more for what you used to get. I fly Southwest whenever possible but tend to prefer non-stop. This will definitely make me consider Southwest even if I have to transfer. I can’t fit everything I don’t want the airline to steal or lose in a purse.

  6. Mauibaby2008


    September 28, 2017 at 11:29 pm

    Some might see it as a way to nickel and dime customers, but in reality I think it is their way of fighting back against the LCCs, Spirit, etc

  7. alphaod

    October 6, 2017 at 3:31 am

    I know a lot of people who actually don’t care about sitting in a middle seat for a domestic flight. Honestly eight out of the last ten flights with my colleagues, I’ve chosen to take some random middle seat on the aircraft and I really didn’t mind that much.

    That said I’m usually paying very much full fare.

  8. NapaPatTours

    October 6, 2017 at 8:02 am

    Interestingly, I’ve just had first-hand experience with this product, and in my small sample, it wasn’t bad.

    Book last minute (<30 hours out) for ~$75 (next cheapest fare ~$450)

    HOWEVER, my flight options and status made it so many of the issues listed in other comments did not exist:
    – Flew DTW-PHL on RJs with no middle seats
    – At only ~1hr in the air, UGs are not that big a deal (unlike say DTW to PHX)
    – My status DID allow me to board in my "priority" group
    – Status (and partner CC) also allowed 1 over-head carry-on
    – Same for checked bag (didn't use but the option was available)

    In summary: If you have status, and if it's less than 500 miles in an RJ, it's worth a look.

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