With today’s announcement by American Airlines, the country’s three largest carriers are now offering a “no-frills” fare option on select flights.
In return for saving a few dollars, passengers will have their seat selected for them at check-in, be forbidden to upgrade, be among the last to board, and be limited to only one personal carry-on item.
However, those restrictions aren’t universal: Some of the airline’s elite-level frequent flyers and holders of select credit cards will retain certain privileges, such as priority boarding, an additional carry-on bag, and a free checked bag allowance.
In addition, Basic Economy passengers enrolled in American’s frequent flyer program will earn regular miles as normal. More coveted elite miles will be calculated at a reduced rate.
The move is a response to ultra low-cost carriers such as Spirit, Jet Blue, and Allegiant, which have been steadily growing their market share and pulling budget conscious passengers from American and other carriers.
“American Airlines now has something to offer every customer, from those who want simple, low-price travel to those who want an ultra-premium experience via First Class,” said American Airlines President Robert Isom. “Importantly, this new fare product also gives American the ability to compete more effectively with the growing number of ultra low-cost carriers.”
Meanwhile, reaction to the announcement on social media has been mixed:
— Sin Limites 007 ⚓ (@ehyoNYCK) January 18, 2017
.@AmericanAir starting new lowest fare ‘Basic Economy’ – Your seat is located on the wing and you have to flap your arms.
— Wanda Murren (@wmurren) January 18, 2017
— Lena VanAusdle (@LenaVanAusdle) January 18, 2017
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