American has a new refundable fare option — but is it worth it?

4d ago

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Out with the Shuttle and in with Main Select at American Airlines.

The Fort Worth-based carrier’s newest fare bundle, dubbed Main Select, is now available for purchase, as confirmed by a carrier spokesperson. The new fare replaces the now-retired Shuttle product.

Main Select is American’s new bundle of benefits that will be available on high-frequency business markets (at least to start).

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American’s new Main Select fare

The “Main Select” fare was first unveiled in November when the airline announced plans to formally retire the Shuttle service, which historically offered shorter check-in cutoff times, dedicated kiosks and more-convenient boarding gates.

As part of the move, American pulled out of the Boston (BOS) to New York LaGuardia (LGA) market in January, with Northeast Alliance partner JetBlue Airways now operating exclusively in that corridor going forward.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Instead of designating certain routes as a Shuttle, American is bringing the new Main Select fare to a handful of business-oriented markets. The fare includes a fully refundable economy ticket with some additional perks that American believes are valuable to business travelers.

This includes priority check-in and Group 4 boarding, complimentary access to extra-legroom Main Cabin Extra seats and free same-day flight changes.

At launch, the fare will be available on American-operated flights, as follows:

  • Boston (BOS) — Washington Reagan National (DCA)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) — Chicago (ORD)
  • New York-JFK — Los Angeles (LAX)
  • New York/LaGuardia (LGA) — DCA
  • LGA — ORD

You can book the new Main Select directly on American’s website or mobile app, or through an NDC-enabled travel agency. (NDC, or new distribution capability, is an industry technology that lets airlines better sell and market their products.)

In a statement, Vasu Raja, American’s chief commercial officer, explained in November that the move “means creating an easy and seamless travel experience that has the amenities [business customers] want, the flexibility they need and a network that offers access to any destination they want to go.”

(Screenshot courtesy of American Airlines)


Is Main Select worth it?

American’s new Main Select fare is already available for purchase, and it appears that the airline is charging an additional $100 to $120 for the upgrade.

Interestingly, the airline is also offering an option to convert a standard coach fare to a refundable ticket for $50. (Standard coach fares can be changed without a change fee, but if you voluntarily cancel your ticket, you’ll receive a future travel voucher, not a refund.)

(Screenshot courtesy of American Airlines)

So, the airline is essentially charging between $50 and $70 for access to priority check-in and security, Main Cabin Extra seats and same-day changes.

AAdvantage elite members already have many of these benefits included for free based on their status, so the buy-up might make sense for a general member (or those with expense accounts who are also looking to earn additional miles and Loyalty Points from the higher fare).

Bottom line

Main Select is just one of American’s new fare products.

Recently, the airline began offering a “Main Plus” upgrade, which offers complimentary access to Main Cabin Extra and preferred seats, along with an additional checked bag and Group 5 boarding, for an upcharge over the standard coach fare. A carrier spokesperson confirmed to TPG that American will only sell one buy-up on eligible routes — meaning that you’ll either be offered the Main Plus or Main Select upgrade, but not both.

The primary differences between Main Select and Main Plus are that the latter isn’t refundable and doesn’t include free same-day changes.

In addition to Main Plus, American rolled out a new Flagship Business Plus business-class fare last week that includes access to first-class perks, such as dedicated check-in areas, restaurant-style Flagship First dining access and an additional checked bag.

With three new fare products launched during the pandemic, American’s working hard to segment the market and offer a fare that includes the benefits that each customer values.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.

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