American Airlines Changes Their Basic Economy Restrictions, For The Better!

a plane flying in the sky

Basic Economy fares have spread among American, Delta and United Airlines faster than weeds do in my backyard.  These fares represent a more complex form of a price increase to customers.  Delta was the first to roll these fares out.  United wasn’t far behind.

American mostly mimicked Delta and United, though they allowed some elite earning on Basic Economy fares.  However, they explicitly said that in the case of travel disruption, you’ll be at the back of the line for finding a new flight.  They are at least nice enough to allow you to upgrade without penalty if you book Basic Economy by mistake.  Now it looks like the restrictions during travel disruptions aren’t so restrictive.

View From The Wing reported that the folks at American reached out to let him know they’ll allow Basic Economy customers to re-book into other inventory during times of irregular operations.  This qualifies as big news for Basic Economy customers:

American acknowledges this is the published rule for travel agents, and that travel agents won’t be able to rebook Basic Economy customers via the waiver into anything other than Basic Economy (and customers won’t be able to do it on a self serve basis), but that in practice American Airlines agents will still rebook basic economy customers into other inventory when you call.

Put another way, they’ll do exactly what I suggested, “for agents to oversell Basic Economy when [other] coach inventory is available.” (This is not a published benefit customers can point to so if the first agent you speak to won’t do it, hang up and call back.)

The Right Thing

That’s the right thing to do.  There’s a reason they call them irregular operations.  When the you-know-what hits the fan, the best thing for all parties is to get people where they need to go.  Clearing up a backlog of waiting passengers is what makes the most sense.  When there’s a weather delay or mechanical issues, tensions escalate.  Diffusing the situation by providing solutions helps de-escalate.

It’s why the restriction initially confused me.  I understand trying to make Basic Economy painful enough to get people to buy up.  And, it’s working, considering that American is rolling out to a lot more markets.  But, you still need to make customers happy.

I’m glad to see American Airlines re-booking folks regardless of their booking class.  I’m even happier to hear them saying it, so it’s not just a “your mileage may vary” policy.  Hyatt is trying the YMMV route right now with some new program changes.  It’s rarely the right choice when it comes to customer service.

Kudos to American for this clarification!

The post American Airlines Changes Their Basic Economy Restrictions, For The Better! was published first on Pizza in Motion

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