American Airlines will begin selling a new basic economy fare on February 10.
Like United and other airlines, American's new basic economy fares will offer a minimum of service: A seat on a plane to get you from point A to B.
“American Airlines now has something to offer every customer,” American Airlines President Robert Isom said in a statement. “This new fare product also gives American the ability to compete more effectively with the growing number of ultra low-cost carriers.”
Isom said that the basic economy class, in combination with the airline's other offerings, provides a product for every passenger, “from those who want simple, low-price travel to those who want an ultra-premium experience via First Class.”
But those on the hunt for cheap airfare should also know what that ticket will get them.
Like United, American will not offer pre-assigned seats to those who purchase basic economy fares. Instead, passengers will receive a seat assignment (Heyyyyyy seat 37E) at check-in. Overhead bin space is not included, so baggage must fit below the seat in front of the passenger. And they must pay for checked baggage. And they board last. And are not eligible for upgrades.
While the experience is less than luxurious, airlines see “basic” fares as a way to offer something to consumers who are okay with minimum service in exchange for travel. And it allows them to better compete with budget carriers, whether Spirit or Norwegian or Frontier, that run frequent flash sales.