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Since American introduced its new bundled Choice fares back in December, I have purchased them almost every time I’ve flown the airline domestically because. In short, I love them and think they provide a ton of potential value for flyers whose plans might change and who want the added bonuses of priority boarding, check in and mileage bonuses.
In a New York Times article last week in which I was quoted, Stephanie Rosenbloom discussed this growing trend of bundled fares including United’s Economy Plus subscription and Delta’s recently launched Smarter Travel Pack, and while I personally think you should save the money on those and get many of the same benefits by carrying a co-branded credit card like the Gold Delta SkyMiles Amex or the United Explorer card, both of which confer benefits similar to low-tier elite status such as free checked bags and priority boarding, there are a few things that set American’s Choice Fares apart.
If you’re not familiar with them, Choice Fares are bundled as follows:
1. Choice Fares: These are basically the discounted economy fares as they are today – the least expensive way to get from point A to point B with no extras added on. You pay fees to make changes and you accrue miles normally.
2. Choice Essential: For an additional fee of $68 roundtrip, these fares will include 1 checked bag, Group 1 priority boarding and no change fees.
3. Choice Plus: These fares cost $20 above Choice Essential (so $88 above Choice/Regular Fares) and have the same three perks as Choice Essential plus a 50% AAdvantage mileage bonus (not Elite Qualifying Miles), waived same-day confirmed flight changes, same day standby and a premium beverage (including alcohol).
And now through December 15, 2013, American is offering anyone who buys a Choice Essential fare and completes travel by that date the 50% mileage bonus you’d ordinarily only earn by purchasing a Choice Plus fare for no extra charge. So the only difference between Choice Essential and Choice Plus for the next two months is the waived same-day confirmed flight changes, the standby benefit, and a free premium beverage.
I usually buy Choice Plus fares because, though I’m an Executive Platinum on American and already get tons of perks like free checked bags, bonus miles and Priority AAccesss (which trumps the Group 1 boarding), I’ve been purchasing them specifically for the waived change fees ($200) and the same-day confirmed changes ($75), which I would still have to pay on regular baseline Choice fares since even as an Executive Platinum. While I probably won’t change my strategy since it’s the flexibility that really matters to me as my plans change all the time, if any of you have been thinking about purchasing one of these bundled fares, I might suggest dipping your toe with this promo.
For more information on Choice Fares, other bundled fares and maximizing airfare, check out these posts:
Why I Love American’s New Choice Fares
Comparing Delta’s Smarter Travel Pack to American Choice Fares and United’s Economy Plus Subscription
Maximizing Airfare Purchases: Choosing the Best Site and Credit Card for Purchasing Airfare