American Airlines just expanded its cheapest, most restrictive fares to another region
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. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
It’s been a little over two and a half years since American Airlines first introduced basic economy fares. After starting on just 10 domestic routes, it wasn’t long before the airline’s cheapest and most restrictive fares expanded nationwide. In spring 2018, AA added basic economy fares to Europe. Then, in September 2018, basic economy expanded to Hawaii and the Caribbean. But it’s been relatively quiet since then.
Unfortunately, that streak just ended. American Airlines confirmed to TPG that basic economy fares were added to select South America routes this week.
Basic economy fares are now available on both nonstop and connecting routes to Santiago, Chile (SCL) and Lima, Peru (LIM) from Chicago (ORD), Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA) and New York City (JFK/LGA/EWR).
As far as expanding to other South American routes, an American Airlines spokesperson confirmed that the airline is “always evaluating new markets for Basic Economy but do not have any additional South America news to share at this time.”
The basic economy restrictions on these South American routes match the restrictions on European basic economy fares. Passengers will be allowed to bring a carry-on bag as well as a personal item. However, basic economy fares won’t be eligible for upgrades, advanced seat selection will be subject to a fee and passengers will be assigned group 8 boarding. As with other basic economy fares, American Airlines and Oneworld elites will retain their priority boarding and checked bag benefits.
While credit cards can help you defeat basic economy, the complimentary first checked bag benefit on American Airlines co-branded credit cards is limited to domestic itineraries. That means having a AA credit card won’t help you gain back a checked bag benefit on these South American basic economy fares.
As basic economy theoretically allows legacy airlines to answer low-cost carriers, it’s understandable to see American Airlines adding basic economy to Lima, Peru — where it’s facing stiff price competition from Spirit Airlines. The decision to add basic economy on routes to Santiago, Chile is less clear, but an AA spokesperson noted that American Airlines’ major South America partner LATAM has offered its Promo product from time to time in that market, which is equivalent to American’s Basic Economy offering. The addition comes shortly after LATAM announced that it’s leaving AA’s Oneworld alliance following an investment from Delta.
To learn more about basic economy restrictions, check out our guides on what you need to know about basic economy on American Airlines, Delta and United — as well as our survival guides to flying Spirit and Frontier.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees