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Trip Doctor: American Airlines’ New Bundled Fares

Trip Doctor: American Airlines’ New Bundled Fares

Tacking on individual fees to your airline ticket is so 2012. The next big thing is bundling your airfare. American Airlines just introduced a new tiered fare structure that allows fliers to chose between a basic ticket (called “Choice”) and packaged fares (“Choice Essential” for an additional $68 or “Choice Plus” for an extra $88) that include everything from free checked bags to premium drinks onboard. As with most package deals, this one offers savings.

Take a look at the roundtrip fares we found from New York’s JFK into Los Angeles’s LAX in early March:

AA’s bundled fares options and what you’d pay if you bought these options separately:

Choice: $338

Choice Essential: $406 (includes waived ticket change fee, one checked bag, and expedited boarding)

If purchased a la carte:

$338 (basic fare)
+ $50 (one checked bag, roundtrip)
+ $18 (priority boarding, roundtrip)
+$75 to $150 (ticket change fee)
=$481 to $556
Savings: $75 to $150

Choice Plus: $426 (includes waived ticket change fee, one checked bag, expedited boarding, 50 percent bonus miles, waived same-day flight change and stand-by fee, and one premium drink on-board)

If purchased a la carte:

$338 (basic fare)
+ $50 (one checked bag, roundtrip)
+ $18 (priority boarding, roundtrip)
+$75 to $150 (ticket change fee or same-day flight change/stand-by fee)
+$35 (estimated worth of bonus miles)
+$14 (onboard wine, roundtrip)
=$530 to $605
Savings: $104 to $179

Of course, if you are a Platinum or above AAdvantage member, you already get some of these privileges (waived bag fee, priority boarding, mileage bonuses). But if you’re flying without status and crave the flexibility of waived change fees, bundling may be the way to go.

Send your dilemmas to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @afarles on Twitter.


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