American Airlines first time basic economy flight experience

One way ATL-LGA on American Airlines direct flight.

$98 USD one way on a Friday evening in peak summer travel season.

AA Basic Economy Restrictions:

  • No voluntary changes
  • No voluntary refunds 
  • No upgrades 
  • No advance seat selection

Once you check in at 24 hours before departure you are assigned a seat. You can change to another seat for a charge. No free changes of seats are offered. 

For my flight it was an $10 fee for another standard seat or $39 for main cabin extra.  Since my aircraft had no middle seats I decided to stay in my window seat in the next to last row. 

You can still get a refund if your flight is cancelled or has a significant delay. Only voluntary changes are restricted under the no change and no cancellation policies. 

On American basic economy does include a carry on bag which was fine for my weekend trip. You do board in the last group so chances are you will have to check a large carry on bag. In my case I snuck on early during boarding and was ok. I didn’t want to wait at baggage claim with a near midnight arrival. I had a bus to catch!

Overall I would purchase basic economy again under the right conditions:

  • The price is significantly less than a “normal” economy ticket
  • The flight is relatively short or no middle seats or mid-week where it may not be a full flight 
  • I’m willing to possibly pay for a new seat for a low enough price for fuller or longer flights
  • I had small carry on only luggage 
  • I was certain I wouldn’t need to change or cancel the ticket
  • I’m not checking a bag

It sounds like a lot of restrictions at first but I normally fit within the restrictions most of the time. I avoid checking bags if at all possible. It takes too much time when for 50+ flights per year. In economy class I’m not concerned about the seat location for short flights. For medium or long haul routes it becomes more important. In the end price and schedule are the primary concern.