American Airlines first time basic economy flight experience

One way ATL-LGA on AA

$98 Friday evening in peak summer


  • No changes
  • No 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 an extra charge. No free changes at all. 

For my route it was $10 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 not allowed. 

On American Airlines basic economy does include a carry on bag which is 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 and was ok. I didn’t want to wait at baggage claim with a near midnight arrival. I have a bus to catch!

Overall I would do it again under the right conditions:

  • The price is significantly less than normal economy 
  • 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
  • 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 but I normally fit that description most of the time. I avoid checking bags like the plague. It takes too much time when you add up for 50+ flights per year. In economy I’m not concerned about the seat for short flights. For cross country I’d be more concerned. In the end for me price and schedule are the primary concerns.