American Introduces New Fare Structure…including additional miles and no change fee options

by Adam

American yesterday introduced three new categories for economy class passengers.  The new options include a choice similar to the current bare bones lowest priced economy ticket (including fees for any checked bags or changed itineraries), to fares that charge no change fees and award additional miles. According to Yahoo News/AP the new options include:

  • “Choice” tickets will be similar to the current basic fare. If a passenger wants to check a bag or change the reservation, there’s a charge for that.
  • “Choice Essential” fares will cost an extra $68 per round trip and include one checked bag, no additional fee for changing the itinerary later, and early boarding.
  • “Choice Plus,” at $88 more per round trip, will include a checked bag, no change fees and early boarding plus bonus miles for frequent-flier purposes, standby privileges, a drink for no additional charges and other perks.

All options are priced for round trips and they will continue to sell fully refundable tickets in economy as well. American’s managing director of digital marketing noted that the change is due to customer complaints about fees and that “this will eliminate the fear about what-ifs”. American has already updated their site, which now displays the three options and roundtrip pricing for any itinerary. The site also gives additional details on Choice Plus which includes 50% AAdvantage bonus miles, a premium beverage, 3rd checked bag, and same day flight changes.

No specific word on how many times you’ll be able to change your itinerary with the Choice Essential or Choice Plus options. The website simply states no change fees, perhaps indicating that you can change your ticket as often as you like, though fare differences will apply.

If you have status on AA, the checked bags and additional mileage earning may not be appealing to you at an extra $68-$88 per trip, however if your a frequent business traveler (especially a small business traveler whose company doesn’t pay for your flight changes), the fees might be worth it if you find yourself constantly changing the dates of your trips. For those without status (or an AAdvantage credit card), the fees are a decent bargain at only $18 additional over the $50 checked bag fee. According to AA’s website – the Boarding and Flexibility option product is being discontinued; however, if you previously purchased this option on or before December 5, 2012, you will still receive the benefits of the package for your upcoming travel. In addition, Mileage Multiplier will still be available for all fare classes as well.

PS – Did you see the additional pictures American released of their new 777-300ER?  Not too shabby!

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Kris Ziel December 13, 2012 - 10:29 am

I remember reading yesterday that there is no limit to the number of changes under Essential and Choice.
And I don’t think these options will be helping their income statements at all, and those need all the help they can get.

adam December 13, 2012 - 5:09 pm

@Kris – thanks for the info! No limit sounds like a great deal for individuals who need to frequently change their plans. A few of the airline consultants I’ve heard speak about the new program seem to think the number of people who will take advantage of Essential or Choice will outweigh the loss in additional change fee revenue.

Matt December 13, 2012 - 4:34 pm

Interesting…are the fees constant for all routes, or do they scale with distance? Paying an extra $88 on a $1200 ticket to PVG for 50% bonus miles would be worth it to me.

Matt December 13, 2012 - 4:57 pm

In pricing some other fares, it looks like the fee structure changes depending on the route. Example: AUS to florida costs $102 and $132.

adam December 13, 2012 - 5:09 pm

@Matt – thanks for the research! Interesting, how did PVG look?


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