|Don't look at me like that, I'm still mad at you. You know what you did.|
Basic Economy: The product no one needs, absolutely didn't ask for, and definitely don't want. So...thanks for that.
Overnight, AA has rolled out their new basic economy pricing across their domestic flights, and it's bad my friends. The pricing starts for flights later this month and continues on indefinitely. It's a plan that all of the major airlines have gone with, and AA was just the last to conform. We knew it was coming, and had already started in some markets earlier this year.
In theory, the idea is to let the major US 3- American, Delta, and United, price match the ultra low cost carriers like Spirit and Frontier by offering a ticket that removes all possible benefits and guarantees you'll hate flying just as much as if you were on Spirit. Nice, right?
They justify it by saying it 'gives the customer the choice' to pick the benefits they want. However, benefits like a seat assignment, or a carry on bag, are a bit necessary to the vast majority of travelers and so it's really just a way to nickel and dime people who don't understand, or don't care about the fine print. In most cases you'll end up spending as much or more on the ticket once you have to add on everything that's necessary.
What's worse though, is the hypocrisy of how AA changed the pricing structure overnight. Instead of actually creating some new lower fares and making those Basic Economy (which was how they advertised the upcoming change), they simply took the existing pricing and made the cheap tickets Basic, and started charging about $40 more round trip for the exact same main cabin ticket that had been there the day before. Classy.
So, I hope anyone who had their eye on those cheap LAX-DFW fares I posted about last week managed to click purchase before today, because guess what? Those $79 tickets are now booking into Basic Economy, and won't come with a seat assignment, a carry on bag, any flexibility, and will earn half of the qualifying miles and segments they would have 24 hours ago. Oh, and they also aren't eligible for elite upgrades anymore either.
Being elite does get you out of some of these restrictions, if you happen to find yourself in Basic. You will still have your baggage privileges and priority boarding, but being off the upgrade list and earning fewer qualifying miles will hurt.
In the end we have the big carriers' bottom lines to thank for this, but more importantly the likes of Spirit and Ryanair for showing them how to make air travel just a little less pleasant.
From here on out, book wisely.