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American Airlines Now Offers Coach Tickets in Three Flavors

December 17, 2012 at 8:08 AM | by | ()

Booking airline tickets used to be fairly straightforward. Call ‘em up and tell ‘em where you want to go, and then book your ticket and countdown the days until departure. Tickets included meals, snacks, and of course a couple of checked bags. Now there are all kinds of different options before, during, and after the airport, and now it looks like American Airlines is the latest carrier to shake up the way it goes about selling its tickets.

The new American Airlines fare system gives you the option to choose exactly what you want, so if you want to score a couple freebie checked bags or waive change fees—the option is yours. Of course this is great for business travelers needing to change things up or for families that suffer from analysis paralysis, but this flexibility is going to cost you.

In the coach cabin there are now three different fare options from which to choose, with the most basic of them still requiring a change fee for flight changes and no option to check bags as part of your ticket and fare. They call that one “Choice.” After that things get a little more luxurious, as “Choice Essential” allows for no change fee, one checked bag, and boarding with the cool kids in group one. At the top sits “Choice Plus” which offers up the same stuff as the previous level, but also includes 50% AAdvantage bonus miles, same-day flight changes and standby, and a premium beverage. It’s kind of like you’re paying to be a frequent flyer for the day, and it’s really not that bad a of a deal.

We just searched for a flight between JFK and LAX in the spring, and the prices to upgrade our fare weren’t that bad. If you consider that a change fee might set you back $150, the option of getting one included for around $68 more is pretty good—assuming you’ll need it. The fees and fares start at $68 extra for “Choice Essential” and start at $88 for “Choice Plus.” For now it looks like these are usually only available on domestic journeys, but we’d imagine things would eventually spread elsewhere—if they haven’t already.

For now we’ll just sit back and wait to see what United and Delta think about this.

[Photo: American Airlines]

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