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Update 1:25pm: While there are still significant issues on many of the routes, Basic Economy on Philadelphia (PHL) to Miami (MIA) is now live. When you select a Basic Economy fare, AA.com will show the following information:


This morning, American Airlines put its newest fare — Basic Economy — on sale for the first time. Effective for flights departing March 1, American Airlines flyers will have to pay more to get carry-on bags, assigned seats and upgrades to get the cheapest fares on the following initial routes:

  • Charlotte (CLT) – Orlando (MCO)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) – Baltimore (BWI)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) – Tampa (TPA)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) – Philadelphia (PHL)
  • Miami (MIA) – Tampa (TPA)
  • Miami (MIA) – New Orleans (MSY)
  • Philadelphia (PHL) – New Orleans (MSY)
  • Philadelphia (PHL) – Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
  • Philadelphia (PHL) – Charlotte (CLT)
  • Philadelphia (PHL) – Miami (MIA)
The initial Basic Economy routes are focused on the east coast. Image courtesy of Great Circle Mapper.

As becomes quite obvious when mapped, Basic Economy is first being rolled out in DFW and east coast routes that have a significant ultra-low cost carrier (i.e. Spirit and Frontier) presence. The hardest hit airports are three of American Airlines’ hubs: Philadelphia (5 routes), Dallas/Fort Worth (3 routes) and Miami (3 routes).

Basic Economy is supposed to be available to book now, but it seems that American Airlines is having some serious issues with the launch. Currently, all of the routes that we’ve checked on AA.com for Basic Economy are showing as “Not available” or fully refundable in the Main Cabin. Similarly, if you search Google Flights for these routes, you’ll be kicked into a first class fare when attempting to select an economy fare.

You’re currently unable to book any non-refundable flights in the Main Cabin on the affected routes.

Along with today’s launch, we got some additional details about Basic Economy:

  • Basic Economy will only be available for nonstop flights between these cities. You won’t be able to book MCO-CLT-PHL as one Basic Economy ticket. However, AA notes “eventually Basic Economy will be available on connecting flights.”
  • Basic Economy fares will only be available on AA-operated and AA-marketed flights.
  • In addition to being auto-assigned a seat 48 hours before departure, “Basic Economy fares aren’t eligible for … complimentary/discounted Preferred or Main Cabin Extra seats.” That means that AA elite members won’t be able to get these seats even if they’re available.
  • For elite members, instead of the standard 500 Elite Qualifying Mile (EQM) minimum for AA flights, Basic Economy fares will earn 250 EQMs for flights under 500 miles.

Once AA gets the technical bugs worked out, this is the beginning of a new, very lucrative period for American Airlines. AA told investors in January that it’s expecting nearly $1 billion in incremental revenue per year from Basic Economy and Premium Economy — the latter of which is expected to launch April 2. Much of this incremental revenue will come from charging more for flights that include features travelers have always received on American Airlines, such as carry-on bags, seat assignments and upgrades for elite members.

Are you planning to book Basic Economy or will you be paying more for a Main Cabin fare?

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