Basic Economy. You may or may not be aware of this new development in the never-ending degradation of the flying experience. We are continually amazed at the lengths to which a heavily consolidated industry will go to continue to pad the “bottom line”.

It is for this very reason that travel professionals continue to be a valuable asset to the traveling public! We are here to inform and lobby for better experiences for our valued customers.

What is Basic Economy on American Airlines? It’s basically a Main Cabin seat that comes with less comfort. And when we refer to comfort, it’s the little things. Here are the restrictions:

A ticket gets you a seat in Main Cabin, with restrictions:
1 item that fits under the seat in front of you (no access to overhead bins)*
Seats assigned at check-in
Fees to choose a specific seat
Not eligible for upgrades
No flight changes or refunds
Board in last group*
Baggage details
You can board with 1 item like a purse or small handbag that fits under the seat in front of you and is not larger than 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 cm). You won’t have access to overhead bins.
All other items must be checked at ticket counters and cannot be carried on. If you take them to the gate you’ll pay an extra $25 gate service fee per item plus the applicable bag fee.
Carry-on baggage
Seat details
You can choose a specific seat within 48 hours of departure, but a fee will apply. Otherwise, seats will be automatically assigned for free when you check in.”

If you thought that the flying experience is uncomfortable, try taking a chance on a family of 4 separated into 4 middle seats all over the economy class….

Or the boarding process where American has to sort out all of these details.

“Elite status and eligible AAdvantage® credit cardmembers
AAdvantage® elite status members and eligible Citi® / AAdvantage® or AAdvantage® AviatorTM Mastercard® cardmembers are exempt from certain restrictions.**

You can …

Take 1 item that fits under the seat (no larger than 18 x 14 x 8 in.)
Take 1 item free of charge to store in the overhead bin (no larger than 22 x 14 x 9 in.)
Keep your priority or preferred boarding privileges
Keep your checked bag benefits”

How in the world will this process go smoothly? “If you take them to the gate you’ll pay an extra $25 gate service fee?”  Oh my….

This is getting more complicated than the US Tax Code…

Over at United it’s not any better! We have a screen shot from their website as of today. It’s quite lengthy and the one big one that stands out is “a group, including families, will not be able to sit together”….

Our recommendation is to avoid basic economy when traveling as a family. In addition, you’ll need to be very aware of the restrictions if you choose to travel solo or as a couple on these types of fares.