American Airlines Offers New Airfare/Fee Bundling Options

Back at the start of the year, air travel expert Rick Seaney made the prediction, “look for more creative attempts at bundled fees” and the latest example has just arrived from American Airlines.

American Merger? Talk Heats Up Again

Three New Coach Fare Options

The airline says its new Choice options include three ways to buy tickets in coach. First you’ll see the description from American’s marketing team, and then FareCompare’s translation.

Choice: “The lowest fare available in the main cabin that gives customers the flexibility to purchase additional products a la carte.”

  • Translation: This is the same old coach ticket with a brand new name. Nothing has really changed – you pay for your airfare and anything extra will cost you, such as a checked bags or onboard snacks.

Choice Essential: “No change fee, one free checked bag (or free third checked bag for elites) and Group 1 Boarding for an additional $68 round-trip.”

  • Translation: Early boarding is a nice bonus and so is a checked-bag (normally $50 round-trip) but the really big deal here is the change fee, which normally costs $150. If you think there’s a possibility you’ll have to change your itinerary, this could be the fare for you.

Choice Plus: “No change fee, one free checked bag (or free third checked bag for elites), Group 1 Boarding, 50% AAdvantage mileage bonus, Same-Day Flight Change, Same-Day Standby, and a premium beverage, such as an alcoholic beverage onboard for an additional $88 round-trip.”

  • Translation: Don’t pay attention to the free drink, that’s just window dressing – once again, the main draw is the change fee (though if you fly a lot, the extra miles are a nice bonus).

American and Pilots Come to Terms (Finally)

Other Fare Options

American is also offering a new fare called Fully Flexible which is essentially the old refundable ticket (with some extras thrown in) but it costs hundreds more than basic coach so it’s doubtful it will appeal to most leisure travelers though road warriors who don’t wish to pay thousands for business or first class may find this a good alternative.

Finding the Cheapest Airfare

Everyone has different needs and wants when it comes to air travel, but if your biggest concern is finding the cheapest flights, you must compare prices – every time you shop.



Published: December 12, 2012