Last Night American Revamped the Way it Sells Tickets Online

Last month I reported that was discontinuing the sale of fare ‘bundles’ and would change the way they handle upsells.

We don’t yet know exactly what that’s going to look like, since it will be heavily influenced by new stripped-down ‘basic economy’ economy fares whose details haven’t been released yet — we’ll see that before the end of the year. Odds on they’ll follow Delta, which has taken heat for ‘hate selling’.

In preparation for American’s new method of selling tickets, they’ve revamped what the sales process on the website looks like.

Here’s what a fare search used to look like:

Without bundles the presentation got simpler:

Sometime overnight changed again. Overall I like it. Here’s the lowest-price offering in coach, and in first class, and there are a number of informational features about the flights.

From the booking search you can see a flights details like it’s on-time performance and frequency that a given flight is cancelled.

You can see whether upgrades are available — not just on one flight when there’s a connection in the itinerary (which was confusing — in the past led you to think that upgrades were available if they were available on just one segment) but flight-by-flight.

You can also see the seat map for a flight before you book.

None of this is revolutionary of course but it’s easily available and presented cleanly in the booking path which is great.

You can also toggle fares to show refundable options:

I do think that flexible versus fully flexible is confusing. And the descriptions of each aren’t really helpful.

Fortunately under details you can see a fare’s booking code, here’s what’s offered under the lowest fare options:

I value knowing the booking class, which used to display by expanding the details of a flight rather than through a popup, because I often want to know if I’ll be able to use Business ExtrAA upgrade certificates for instance.

But if they’re going to show us the booking code, they should provide a link to the fare rules as well. We’re bound by those rules, why not make it possible to see what they are? This ought to be a non-negotiable.

What do you think of the look and functionality of American’s new online booking site?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Ugh. Most – if not all – of this info was available in the old display (yes, via popups in some cases), but the display was so much cleaner. In this new display the font size and amount of white space is huge, and it means I have to scroll through more rows and pages of fares to review options, rather than in the old display which was compact and displayed more flight options in a single view.

    As an example (and yes, on a a relatively small screen) with a simple DFW/LHR roundtrip I see two fare options without scrolling in this new display. In the old one I would have seen probably 7 or 8.

    I see no improvement here.

  2. Also – the hugely useful search by schedule option appears to be gone

    And you can’t see connection cites without multiple clicks.

    Huge downgrade in user friendliness if this stays as it is.

  3. There seems to be a lot more detailed information (or maybe it was always there but is more prominently highlighted now) about things like seat selection, boarding groups, upgrade availability, etc.

    Looks like they are definitely getting ready for the introduction of Basic Economy.

  4. Hi Gary

    Slightly off topic question.

    Like a lot of your readers i followed you to get the Citi Prestige / Premier card.

    I like to use the TY points to buy revenue tickets on American at 1.6 cents each through Citi

    HOWEVER – Found out recently the hard way when my redeem miles posted with AA – that a recent JFK-BCN-JFK round trip purchased through citi with my TY points earned only 50% redeemable miles as American called it a “bulk / special” fare – I think it was O class.

    I’ve not seen anyone post on this – but considering many os us use TY points for just that – perhaps you could investigate? I spoke to a few AA agents and they all kinda told me different things. In the end they didn’t really know what they were talking about.

    But the fare I bought with Citi was about $960 – which was the EXACT same cost as on, yet American called it a special/bulk fare and I only earned .5 mile for every dollar spent rather than 1 mile for every dollar spent.

    I am EXP

  5. This is a happy to glad change. With so many warts needing attention, it’s hard to imagine what those geniuses at AA management are thinking. I never felt the online booking process was difficult before this new change.

    They brought in celebrity chefs to revamp the J menu this month and the food in J on my flight this week from PHL to VCE was an epic fail. The old menu was better. I cringe now when I hear of another AA change – it never ends up in a good way for the passengers.

  6. Wow Tim, that would be terrible if true, especially if it also meant the same in EQM or EQD. Gary, any insights?

  7. Agreed with @Bob: visually, these changes are horrid. Terrible. Takes much more time to read through the info. Contrast stinks.

  8. @Tim, @ Beachfan……thanks for you bringing this up. Would LIKE to get some clarification on this as well especially how it affects EQM’s for status? GARY WOULD YOU BE ABLE TO COMMENT? Much appreciated! Have like 3 trips booked with Citi TY points on American and the fare in O was both times the same on and the Citi travel portal.

  9. @Tim and all that is a bummer. Sorry to hear the points didn’t earn what you thought. However, looking forward that’s a great way to crush the EQM and EQD requirements if you find an AA intercontinental fare sale in business and book it with Citi TY points.

  10. Tim:

    Regarding your question: you should be getting 7,662×0.5=3,831 + 120% EXP bonus =8,428 RDM.

    If purchased through AA, you will have about $90 in taxes so your $960 ticket would yield about 870 EQD and about 9,570 RDM. This is slightly better but not a huge difference.

    However, you will certainly win when using City TY on chip long-haul fares.


  11. I agree that the new format is a DISASTER. Have to go through multiple pages to see flights – they are trying to route me on BA instead of preferred routing (sfo-mia-bcn or sfo-jfk-bcn), have to scroll and click forever to avoid codeshare (or even see what the city routing is). HATE IT!

  12. UGH. Couldn’t get it to sort by price for first class. Couldn’t get it to show only nonstops or 1 stops.
    Doesn’t show miles which is useful for those of us still counting EQMs. I had to move to search on google, with another website for estimating miles. So much less information and options than previously.

  13. Gary, how can you tell whether the fare is a YUP fare (the ones that book into first, but treated like coach in IRROPS)?

  14. Hmmm,yet here I am in Kauai , just received a call that because I paid the least (I’m on a SWU) I am being involuntarily downgraded, and apparently that’s lower priority than no status award ticket holders. I know for sure because my wife is also with me, on an award. I’m explat, she doesn’t have status (not that I’d rather it happen to her). They said they asked everyone for volunteers, which wasn’t true as they didn’t ask my wife (separate PNRs).

    It’s official – to American I am my fare.

    Thanks for the post on the up fares, in any case.

  15. Turns out they called my wife’s home number – from now on, I will only give cell phone number as contact.

    And there are two cases of lower priority than SWU, 500 mile upgrades and day of upgrades.

  16. … assuming it still hides the ” + $290″ on the second page for everything but the 5am option on your return flite. Always one of the little nuggets of truthiness in dealing with AA.

    The lowest fare is a bait and switch 9 times out of ten.

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