Here’s what it’s like not to have elite status on American Airlines. This is a two hour flight. In order to avoid paying extra for seats on top of their fare, and avoid a middle seat, these passengers are able to book something only in the last two rows of the aircraft. This is for travel two months out.
This seat map taught me something about basic economy — and why it is going to perform worse for American as they make the travel experience worse — and I noticed another big failure during the booking process as well.
Remind me the benefit of paying extra to avoid basic economy, in order to select seats at time of booking again? For someone without elite status, who isn’t concerned with the rate at which elite qualifying miles are earned and who won’t be upgraded, the only real benefits to buying up are:
- Not boarding dead last, so carry on bags should fit in the overhead bin. One of the few benefits of American’s cabin retrofit program (cramming in more seats) is that they’re adding larger overhead bins, so this benefit of avoiding basic economy will be going away. By the way that’s one way in which ‘Project Oasis’ is going to cost American Airlines revenue — less benefit to buying up from basic to regular economy.
- Assigning a seat at time of booking. Basic economy customers can pay for a seat assignment 48 hours in advance of travel, or will ahve a seat assigned to them at check-in. But the seat that gets assigned at check-in won’t be worse than what they can assign for free anyway, and it could wind u better if people don’t pay for the ‘good seats’.
Don’t fly United, which still bans basic economy passengers from bringing full sized carry on bags on board. And Southwest’s policies can be the most friendly for the median traveler.
However if you don’t have elite status it’s unclear why you’re spending more to avoid basic economy with a seat map that looks like this one does. And it’s a fairly common seat map.
Meanwhile am I the only one who thinks it’s absolute malpractice that American doesn’t have a way for customers to join the AAdvantage program within the booking path?
Given that the AAdvantage program accounts for all of American’s profits they surely should solicit passengers to join the program while they’re online and entering their personal information. Or they should at least make possible to join at the same time. Instead I have to go back and get these passengers to do it later, which may or may not happen.
It would go a long way towards steering business to American, too, to give their biggest boosters (Platinum Pro members and higher) the ability to book travel for friends and family and extend some kind of benefit of their status — maybe Group 5 boarding excluding basic economy fares. As it is I was simply making the choice here on the basis of schedule and price, but could have used this as an opportunity to both pay American more and help extend a loyalty relationship to other customers.