American Airlines Launches Cheap Economy Fares

FORT WORTH, Texas (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS) -

Cheap, no-frills fares from American Airlines are here.

On Tuesday, the Fort Worth-based carrier began selling its “basic economy” fare on ten routes, including Dallas/Fort Worth to Baltimore, Philadelphia and Tampa. Prices ranged from $90 for a one-way ticket from DFW to Baltimore and $148 from DFW to Philadelphia.

But the fares were going fast. Within an hour of the fares posting to American’s website, several of the cheap fares searched by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram were already unavailable. American said it would be limiting the number of seats on the flights on these routes as it tests the new fare structure.

While the fares may be rock-bottom, customers who buy these types of tickets will face several restrictions. Passengers with basic economy fares will only be allowed to bring a carry-on or personal item that fits underneath the seat in front of them and they will not be allowed to upgrade to regular economy, business class or first class. The tickets are also nonrefundable and cannot be changed. Seating assignments will be made only when the customer checks in.

The carrier plans to expand basic economy fares to several markets later this year. The first ten routes are being used to test the fares and how operations at the airports can handle the new fare class.

American has been talking about a no-frills fare for over a year in an effort to compete with ultra-low-cost carriers like Spirit Airlines. United Airlines unveiled a similar basic economy fare late last year while Delta Air Lines already has a basic economy fare in select markets.

The basic economy fare is in contrast to American’s new premium economy fare that it has introduced on some international routes. Premium economy offers more legroom and better in-flight meals than the typical economy seat.

“Some of our customers will only fly first-class and some simply want a seat from Point A to Point B,” said American president Robert Isom in a letter sent to employees last month. “We need products for both types of customers, and everyone in between.”


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