American Airlines rolls out new fare structure

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 12, 2012 at 5:12 pm •  Published: December 12, 2012
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All the fares are priced for round trips, a departure from American's usual display of fares on a one-way basis.

Henry Harteveldt, a travel analyst with business consultant Hudson Crossing, said many travelers want to know exactly how much their trip will cost, including all the add-ons.

"Overall, the approach is good," he said. "They're trying to move customers' focus from price to value."

There could be drawbacks for consumers. The experts said that the new format will make it harder to do comparison-shopping and to filter flight searches by departure or arrival time.

And customers won't find certain amenities, such as economy seats with more legroom, in the "choice" fares. Harteveldt said American must think it can still get a separate premium for those.

American isn't the first airline to bundle extras — Air Canada already does it — but American started the stampede toward extra fees by charging for checked bags in 2008, so its decision to repackage extras is notable.

American earned $1.1 billion in baggage and change fees last year, according to government figures. But the kitty is no longer growing as much. American's haul from bag fees doubled from 2008 to 2010, but is up just 1 percent this year over 2011.

Elieson said the company is confident that it can sell enough of the upgraded bundles to more than offset the fee revenue American will lose because of the changes. He declined to give revenue estimates.

American and parent company AMR Corp. have been operating under bankruptcy protection for more than a year. AMR's CEO said this week that the company is nearly done with its restructuring, but he declined to say when it might emerge from bankruptcy court.

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Follow David Koenig at http://www.twitter.com/airlinewriter

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