There’s more to basic economy than meets the eye. The harsh limitations of these budget fares are publicized by airlines, primarily to persuade customers to spend more for a regular economy ticket, although there are ways to improve the experience.
The basic economy rates on American Airlines are an excellent illustration. Aside from the excellent methods listed above, there are other ways to outperform AA basic economy. If fortune favors you. You can even book a cheap economy ticket and still receive a complimentary seat in the front of the aircraft in the Main Cabin Extra section, which has additional legroom.
Choosing a Seat Using AA Basic Economy
According to American Airlines‘ printed warning, when traveling basic economy, you are not able to choose your seats. That’s not quite accurate in reality.
On American domestic flights, basic economy passengers can purchase a seat assignment beginning seven days before departure. Airline-specific prices will apply, but generally speaking, seats in the center cost $10, while aisle seats cost $12 to $20 or more. See our comprehensive guide on utilizing American Airlines’ basic economy fare instead.
Extra seats in the Main Cabin, towards the front of the aircraft, are also available for a premium price. These seats provide an extra six inches of legroom. At $50 or more per person each way, these seats are usually significantly more costly. And even if it could be alluring to reserve your ticket in advance, there’s a chance you could do better. Everything you need to do is wait.
Elevate to the Main Cabin with Additional
Usually, when you check in for the flight, American will allocate your seat if you don’t pay for it in advance. Based only on the available seats at the time of your check-in, you will be automatically assigned a seat.
You can benefit from that
You may see the seats that are available on your flight using the American app without having to check-in. A recent trip from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Washington, D.C.-Reagan (DCA) when the check-in window opened 24 hours before the flight looks like this.
I decided not to check in right away as there were just a few seats available in the main cabin at $17 apiece. My attention remained fixed on the seating chart, anticipating the disappearance of the last seats accessible in the main cabin.
Every seat in the main cabin was allotted a few hours later. I was assigned to a Main Cabin Extra seat at that time after checking in for my flight. I would have had to pay $67 if I had wanted this seat. I got it for free since I delayed checking in. With four inches more legroom than the typical economy seat, these seats on this Embraer 175 were a significant boost. It was a rather roomy 34-inch pitch.
Not only that, but I had the whole aisle to myself, on both sides!
Naturally, things will not always turn out this nicely. How many other passengers are in basic economy, how big the aircraft is, and who chooses to upgrade to a Main Cabin Extra seat will all affect your chances of success. It’s also much better to purchase in advance for seats near to each other if you want to sit next to a youngster or other travel companion.
However, given that you may pay for a basic economy ticket and receive an upgraded seat for free, it’s worthwhile to try. Not to be overlooked is the fact that this workaround only offers the benefits of more legroom and a nicer seat on the aircraft. Except in cases where you own an American Airlines co-branded credit card, paying Main Cabin Extra customers will receive priority boarding; however, you will still board last in Group 9.