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American Airlines

American Airlines’ Basic Economy Passengers Can No Longer Fly With Competitors

American Airlines’ Basic Economy Passengers Can No Longer Fly With Competitors
Jackie Reddy

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.”

View Comments (8)

8 Comments

  1. AlwaysFlyStar

    October 5, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    So does this apply to basic economy or all economy?

  2. flamingocrazyfl

    October 5, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    Does this only apply to competitors as in non-One World airlines? So if one is on a TATL basic economy fare (with no elite status) could the still be accommodated on BA?

  3. PHL

    October 5, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    Basic Economy fares only, and it applies to all airlines. Basically, if you’re on an AA BE fare, you’re stuck with them. They are still required to get you to your destination, even if it takes a few days….

  4. AlwaysFlyStar

    October 6, 2018 at 1:59 am

    @PHL, the source doesn’t say it is only basic economy.
    Also the quote

    ‘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.”’

    Doesn’t make any sense if it is applying to basic economy only.

  5. strickerj

    October 6, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    Slightly confusing article – it says basic economy passengers won’t be reaccommodated on a competitor airline, but elite passengers won’t have a problem continuing their journey. Does this mean only elite passengers will be able to interline, regardless of ticket class? Or elite passengers will be exempted from the new policy (that is, able to interline even on basic economy tickets)?

    Also it says “back in 2015, Delta asked for these seat rates to be increased and while United Airlines agreed to the increase, Delta didn’t.” I assume one of those should have said “American”? Or did Delta actually make a proposal and then not agree to it?

  6. twb3

    October 8, 2018 at 10:12 am

    You get what you pay for. I don’t order a hamburger and expect to be served a steak, and I don’t book basic economy.

  7. Counterpointing

    October 8, 2018 at 11:45 am

    But if you order a hamburger and get fish you would expect they would make the order right. I don’t read the fine print when ordering a hamburger.

  8. dogcanyon

    October 9, 2018 at 4:24 am

    This sounds like much ado about nothing. I live in Dallas, where most of us are AA frequent flyers due to AA’s fortress hub here. In 35+ years flying and 1.4 million miles flown with AA, I have never once been re-accommodated on another carrier due to bad weather or mechanical problems with an AA plane. Ditto for multiple friends who are million milers plus with AA and two who have been Executive Platinum for years and have 2 million plus miles flown on AA.

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