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

June 21, 2022
4 min read
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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:

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  • 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 image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
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    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 150,000 points
    120,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.