Details about American Basic Economy – No Carry-Ons, Group 9 Boarding?

by Enoch

Legacy US carriers are trying to compete with low cost carriers, and Delta and United have both launched “Basic Economy” product. Delta launched their Basic Economy product in 2012, which is Economy but with tons of restrictions. For example, Basic Economy fares aren’t eligible for upgrades, changes or refunds, and seat selection. However, customers are sill allowed to bring on full-sized carry-ons, and can earn elite-qualifying credits.

United introduced Basic Economy in November 2016, which comes with the same restrictions that Delta imposes. However, United is also prohibiting full-size carry-ons, and flyers will not earn elite-qualifying credits on United Basic Economy tickets.

Well, American has been reported to be launching their version of “Basic Economy” early this year, and it looks like some of the details are being leaked out. JonNYC on Twitter, who has an amazing track record on all things America, is sharing some of what American Airlines’ Basic Economy will look like. And it’s a bit unfortunate, since the early details seem to suggest that American’s Basic Economy will look a lot like United’s Basic Economy. 

Per JonNYC, here is what American’s Basic Economy will likely entail:

  • No full-size carry-ons (“personal item only”)
  • No advance seat assignments (no exception for elites)
  • No changes/refunds
  • Boards with Group 9 (presumably last, under a new boarding scheme)

It remains to be seen whether elites will earn qualifying dollars, miles, and segments on Basic Economy flights.

American Airlines Main Cabin onboard the 777-300ER. Source: American Airlines

American Airlines Main Cabin onboard the 777-300ER. Source: American Airlines

Basic Economy gives customers the illusion that they are getting a great deal. It’s a bit like Walmart’s strategy of putting things in bins, to create the illusion that the unorganized merchandise are at a discount, while in reality they are just full priced products. Airlines will argue that by taking away some of the “perks,” they can offer lower fares. However, I think in practice airlines won’t really be lowering fares to create Basic Economy; rather, they will be increasing the fares for non-Basic Economy.

What do you think of American Airlines’ rumored Basic Economy details?

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


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WR January 17, 2017 - 8:41 pm

What basically ends up is that those who get window or aisle seats and have overhead bin space will pay a bit more, and those in middle seats and not using overhead bin space will pay a little less. I think that’s fair. The free market will dictate the overall price levels, but it makes perfect sense to price middle seat with no overhead bin space differently.

C. Nolan January 22, 2018 - 2:41 pm

Had my 1st Experience w/ AA Group 9 recently –
A terrible transportation experience.
– Had to pay $50 to check luggage (25 each way) so much for economy!
-Had to consolidate small back pack and hand bag into one item – obnoxious
– Had no seat selection – stuck in back middle row, even tho there were empty rows in front
– Felt like an “untouchable” – public announcements: “group 9 cannot…. etc etc etc…”
-Why can’t company whose mission is supposed to be transportation accommodate a
traveler and a reasonable piece of luggage w/out fees? (yes, pay for baggage like
traveling with a tuba)
– Reward passengers who have no luggage
-Group 9 is a punishment for being poor./ Class system anti-democratic go back to1st come
1st serve seat selection – equal opportunity.
– Even Delta is looking good next to American GROUP 9!
-Let passengers organize annual NO_FLY day to tell airlines we are not going to take it..
– Demand basic travel services for airlines.

Bruce May 16, 2018 - 5:18 pm

Just flew group 9. It’s like being 3rd class steerage on the Titanic. Flight was on time and got where I had to but it was entertaining.

Cherry-Ann M Smart July 29, 2018 - 6:00 am

I just had the same experience. I normally buy my tickets directly from AA but I had a lot of expenses with school fees and utility bills and decided to try and cut down on costs. The first leg of the journey from the Caribbean did not board on this steerage class (possibly because as ex-slaves we try to give ourselves some dignity) and in fact my carry-on was checked through free to MIA. Lo and behold at the Miami to Phoenix leg I am now alerted to this Class 9 category and apprised of the rules. Suffice it to say I was livid to have to fork out this USD25 (the agent spared me the USD50 fee). While I cannot say this is the last time I will be traveling AA because I have accumulated a significant number of miles to earn a free ticket but I will certainly be more cautious in the future and will not be purchasing any miles in furtherance of these elitist type categorization. And like the other poster – there was plenty of room in the overhead bins in a plane that was not filled. And the flight experience was not spectacular. Just returned from the DR last month and at least there was in-flight entertainment with better snacks (sweet biscuits). I absolutely hate these mini-pretzels and also observed that previously where they would give a full can of soda, even that is now shared. Alas.

Rom August 9, 2018 - 11:53 am

I got the same ffeling when I flew last week. On my outbound flight I was the last person waiting to board and I went to the counter and the gate agent was very snobby ‘we haven’t called group nine yet’, and on top of hearing them say over and over ‘the plane is full and if you want we’ll check you carry on item for free’ but NOOO, I get charged $50.

On the way back, again, the feeling of being treated like steerage. This time I was more savvy and consolidated everything into one backpack.

Emily March 16, 2018 - 2:22 pm

I fly a lot, and I recently encountered American’s new rules. I’m 19 and my boyfriend is in the military-so I travel a lot to see him. Usually I try to avoid paying to check a bag ($25), so I pack a book bag and another small bag. Well when I got to my gate this morning, I was surprised to learn that I could only have one carry on item that had to fit under my seat. I was pissed, but ultimately I could manage to pay $25. Well I go to pay and the woman tells me I have to pay $50 to check my bag. And this was just for one flight. Worse part is I got on the plane and there was plenty of overhead room, so it’s not like it was a problem with the space in the aircraft. I’m disappointed and will no longer be flying with American.

Tom May 16, 2018 - 9:15 am

Will miss you…

Sol May 10, 2018 - 6:31 am

Shameful, I wish I had read this before. My family had to purchase tickets in a bundle to make it to a funeral. We fell into Group 9 category. I never heard of this, as we don’t travel often and I did not make the arrangements myself, but was nearly escorted out of the airport. No one explained this fully, all they kept saying was you have a Group 9 ticket. The curbside agent told us that we could carry it on and if it didn’t fit we could check it in at the gate for $25. I wont be flying them when and if i do travel again. Has AA reached out to anyone who has complained about this? I posted on FB and wrote to them. I wonder if my credit card would help me fight the charge?

Ei May 15, 2018 - 7:58 pm

Always read the fine print BEFORE you purchase your ticket… states very clearly what you can and cannnot do……cheap ticket has many restrictions. Not the airlines fault if you don’t read the rules.

A Lee August 8, 2018 - 3:46 pm

Hooray thx bunches for posting…
Wish MORE people would READ.
It’s what teachers, doctors, restaurants, lifeguards, parents, etc etc
Please stopped getting “ pissed”, saying you won’t fly, feeling entitled…
Remember taking the “Read all instructions first…” and there would be the kids busily doing steps 2-30 while you sit there because you READ it in its entirety and just wrote your name at the top?
It’s “not always all about you”…say Thank you because someone has Tead the manual and is doing their job!

Tom May 16, 2018 - 9:19 am

There are several boxes you acknowledge and check. As far as the carryon allowance, seats, boarding and all.. read them, you don’t like them, don’t purchase thise type of tickets. 25 bucks at the counter for a bag, 50 at the gate, you choose.. this is how Spirit airlines operate with all his seats.

Tiffany June 12, 2018 - 7:13 pm

Experienced Group 9 for the first time and it was horrible. The AA staff literally treated my family like we were trash!!! My aunt and I agreed that we will try every other airline before booking with AA again.


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