Once a common arrangement among domestic passengers of the main legacy carriers, it seems that basic economy travelers on American Airlines will no longer be accommodated should their flight be delayed or canceled due to maintenance or bad conditions. This, like much else, is now an elite benefit.
Whether they are faced with delayed or canceled flights due to weather, maintenance or operational reasons, Skift reports that American Airlines‘ (AA) basic economy passengers will no longer have the right to be accommodated on a competitor carrier. This change in policy was first reported on by View From the Wing‘s Gary Leff last weekend.
Explaining this arrangement, which was once commonplace throughout the U.S. airline industry, Leff writes, “When things go wrong with an airline’s operation most carriers have “interline agreements” that let them put their passengers on another airline’s flights. There are industry standard rates that usually apply. Each airline stands ready to help passengers get where they’re going, and they make a bit of extra money for seats that would have gone out empty in the process.”
The backstory to AA’s current policy, he explains, lies in the fact that back in 2015, Delta asked for these seat rates to be increased and while United Airlines agreed to the increase, Delta didn’t. At this point, Delta and American severed their relationship, which has now been re-established.
This change in policy, Leff explains, will negatively impact American’s basic economy customers. Lacking in any kind of elite status, they will not not able to be accommodated by a competitor carrier. However, elite passengers, Leff reveals, will have not problem continuing their onward journeys.
Offering his comments on AA’s new policy via the Cranky Flier blog earlier this week, industry analyst Brett Snyder said, “We’re left with a policy that reminds the casual traveler how unimportant they are to American. I can understand this policy applying to basic economy since that is a pure price play. But if someone is going to pay for a regular coach ticket, then getting to the destination as soon as possible should be a basic benefit, even if it involves flying other airlines.”