American’s New Bundled Pricing ‘Choices’ for Coach Travel

American Airlines today introduced new options for fliers to purchase bundled travel “choices†when making a one-way or round-trip coach reservation within the 48 contiguous United States.

American’s travel options displayed during a flight search now include:

Choice: The lowest fare available in the Main Cabin that gives customers the flexibility to purchase additional products a la carte.

Choice Essential: No change fee, one checked bag (or third checked bag for AAdvantage elite and oneworld®  elite members) and Group 1 Boarding for an additional $68 round-trip (or $34 on one-way only reservations).

Choice Plus: No change fee, one checked bag (or third checked bag for AAdvantage elite and oneworld elite customers), Group 1 Boarding, 50 percent AAdvantage mileage bonus, Same-Day Flight Change, Same-Day Standby, and a premium beverage, such as an alcoholic beverage onboard for an additional $88 round-trip (or $44 on one-way only reservations).

American’s own representation on how the Essential and Plus choices could save the non-elite traveler money is as follows:

a poster for a flightThe savings in each scenario are really only meaningful if a passenger actually changes their ticket or decides on a same-day flight change. In that case, these new “choices†are certainly appealing, even for elites. But with my travel patterns and habits the way they are, I’m doubtful I’ll be clicking to purchase an Essential or Plus option in the future.

The nice thing is you’re shown what each option grants you based on your current elite status (assuming you’ve selected “remember me†at some point when accessing Here’s a snapshot of what appears for me under Choice Plus as an Executive Platinum on a Los Angeles to Chicago round-trip:

a screenshot of a computer screen Now if those 50% bonus AAdvantage miles applied to elite qualification, I’d certainly be inclined to spend a little more, but alas… they’re just redeemable miles.

Brian Kelly, aka The Points Guy, spoke with American’s Managing Director of Digital Marketing and got some other juicy tidbits he detailed in his post today. Among them:

  • You can change your ticket as many times as you want without a fee on the Essential and Plus fares. If the fare drops, you’ll get a travel voucher.
  • Priority AAccess security is not included, just Group 1 boarding.
  • The premium beverage that is included with Choice Plus is 1 per flight direction (not segment) and is basically any drink you’d pay for, including alcohol or drinks like Red Bull.

For travelers who frequently change their plans and/or aren’t able to charge through bag fees, flight changes, etc. to their employers or clients, these options built into the fare are a great new approach.

Related posts:

Airfare Pricing Buckets and Airline Fare Basis Codes Explained

American’s ‘Preferred Seat’ Allocation a Bit Excessive?

Why an American-US Airways Merger Worries Me


  1. While the choices are nice, I do not like the redesigned interface. What used to be a simple task to build an MR based on schedule or price now takes a lot more time. I guess I’ll be calling the EXP desk for all of my upcoming tickets…

  2. It will work for some folks, but only those who fly often enough to pay attention the ‘small’ details. As important as those details can be, most folks do NOT pay attention – and/or their travel agent’s ‘forget’ to tell them. I’d guess that the 7% or 8% that do pay attention will see some benefit here, but the 0ther 93% will see nothing – or a slightly increased price. With points and miles headed down the tube, this may – repeat MAY, be one avenue for the self-paid frequent flyer to save a buck or two. Even with a great return, this campaign is not going to do much for the majority of flyers. I’m not holding my breath.
    -What I’d really like to see is the option to pre-buy seriously good meal for long, rear cabin flights. No refunds for anything except a cancelled flight, but Double Your Money Back if your ordered/pre-paid meal does not make it to your seat. All of them want to charge for ‘snacks that suck,’ but some of the BOB meals could be money makers for them. They can buy a darn nice tray – with excellent food, for what they will mark-up to $20. On a trans-con flight (in coach) I’d pay $20 for a seriously good, filling meal. The pre-order and no refunds won’t kill me, but just to keep them on their catering toes – double the rubbish back if they screw it up. For the $11 or $12 that they would pay, they can afford to take a little risk. The FAs will hate it, but they don’t make the rules. On such a flight and for about $20, I’d expect a NOT entrée of decent fare, a side or two, bread, beverage and a dessert – though I don’t eat that part. This is single-tray service, not the fluff of the front end, but hell yes, the principal dish has got to be hot. What say you – airlines?
    Neighboring pax may moan, but we remind them that they too had the opportunity to pre-order a HOT meal. Can the FAs cope? The cabin staff gets detailed lists of pax, long before they leave the gate. If they don’t have the ordered stuff, they can get it. Will they? I don’t know.
    Some airlines have already tried this and I hear that it is working well. Order a hot meal ahead of time, pay for it and expect it to be delivered as requested. Why the heck not?

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