American Airlines is bringing basic economy to select flights to Europe, the airline announced on Thursday.
The bare fares, which do not include a seat assignment or any checked baggage, will be available beginning in April. Just as basic economy on domestic flights offers an ostensibly lower fare by limiting amenities, international basic economy will have fewer previously complimentary services.
If you purchase a basic economy fare on American airlines for a flight to Europe, you will: receive an automatic seat assignment when you check in, board in Group 8 (unless you have status with the airline), be allowed one carry-on and one personal item but no checked baggage, receive the same in-flight service (meals, drinks, entertainment) as Main Cabin passengers, and not be permitted to get an upgrade.
Of course, a seat assignment, checked bag, or whatever else is always available for an extra fee.
American, for its part, is focusing on the rollout so as to avoid surprising passengers with basic service.
“We're following the same playbook in this latest expansion as we did for the initial rollout of Basic Economy,” American said in a statement. “That includes training that began this week for Airports and Reservations team members and making it available in a limited number of markets first to make sure we get it right.”
Even those customers who do not wish to purchase basic economy should take note of the new fare class: The cheapest available seat will no longer include services that most people take for granted on international flights.
As more airlines (and there will be more airlines) add or expand basic economy service, comparing the cheapest flights will be a bit more complicated for travelers. As Norwegian Air has shown, these basic tickets could mean much more budget-friendly flights to Europe — but paying attention to extra fees will become all the more important.