This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
American Airlines had said in July that it wanted to roll out basic economy to all domestic routes “by the end of September,” but things turned out a little different: AA just introduced the fare class to its entire network on Tuesday morning.
No matter where you’re originating from or traveling to in the US, you’re likely going to have to pay more to get the same American Airlines “Main Cabin” ticket from before AA introduced basic economy in February. For AAdvantage elites, this means you’ll have to pay more to get a chance at an upgrade. For those looking to qualify for elite status, you’ll have to pay more to get full elite-qualifying miles/segments.
The silver lining is that basic economy isn’t appearing yet on all North American routes. I’m still finding overpriced non-basic economy fares on American Airlines’ Los Angeles (LAX) to Vancouver (YVR) route:
— JT Genter (@JTGenter) September 3, 2017
Also good news: it looks like domestic awards are still booking as standard Main Cabin fares and aren’t subject to basic economy restrictions. Since the cost for a cash Main Cabin fare just increased on many routes, Monday morning’s basic economy rollout actually just made AAdvantage miles a bit more valuable on domestic routes — at least where you can find MileSAAver AAvailability.
Now that AA flyers nationwide are affected by basic economy, it’s as important as ever to remember that getting an American Airlines co-branded card can defeat many of the negative aspects of basic economy. Just by having a co-branded card, you can carry-on a bag, check a bag for free and avoid being stuck in boarding group 9.
If you fly AA often and haven’t gotten a co-branded card, here are some to consider:
- Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard
- AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard — with newly increased 60,000-mile sign-up bonus
- Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard
- CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard
We knew that American Airlines’ basic economy fares were going to roll out nationwide soon, but it’s a bummer that the airline rushed to complete this project so soon. With United promising to always offer a basic economy option, interestingly it’s Delta — which originated basic economy back in 2012 — that suddenly has the least ubiquitous basic economy fares of the big three US airlines. If you’re an AA flyer who’s doesn’t mind getting stuck in an airline-assigned seat, make sure to grab a co-branded card to defeat the other aspects of basic economy.
Know before you go.
News and deals straight to your inbox every day.
WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points Terms Apply.
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber credits annually
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees