New AA fare families include ancillary services

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American Airlines has introduced fare families, packaging seats with sets of ancillary services into bundles with preset prices, becoming the first major network carrier in the U.S. to do so.

Several other carriers are doing this already, among them Aeromexico, Air Canada, Air New Zealand, Frontier and Porter Airlines, and all are bookable in GDSs.

However, some airlines, such as Frontier, say that it's easier to book these fares on the airline's own website than in the GDSs.

American said that all GDSs and all travel agencies, including online travel agencies, have access to its new fares.

"It is now their choice to decide whether to display them," said an American spokesman. They were bookable in Travelport and Sabre and will be available to be booked in Amadeus.

American's five prepackaged fare families, which are available in the contiguous U.S., include refundable fares in several categories and such features as no change fee, one checked bag, priority boarding, standby flexibility, additional miles and other benefits.

AAdvantage elite status members can also use these features to get more benefits.

The most basic fare is the bare-bones Choice; customers who want additional ancillary features can book them a la carte.

Choice Essential comes with no change fee, one checked bag and Group 1 boarding for an extra $68 roundtrip.

Choice Plus is Choice Essential plus a 50% AAdvantage Mileage bonus, same-day flight change, same-day standby and a premium beverage for an extra $88 roundtrip.

Fully Flexible includes a refundable fare, two checked bags, Main Cabin Extra or preferred seats, PriorityAAccess (which includes expedited airport security screening where available and priority boarding in a separate lane), same-day flight change, same-day standby and a 500-mile upgrade eligibility (although this is available only after elite frequent flyer members are confirmed).

Business/First includes the lowest available business-class or first-class fare for a confirmed premium-class seat. It also includes instant upgrade fares and other business- and first-class benefits, such as priority baggage handling, up to three checked bags and PriorityAAccess.

American requires travelers to buy these new fare families as a roundtrip, and passengers are required to select the same level or higher for the return leg, according to a video on the carrier's website that explains the new pricing.

Travelport, whose GDSs include Worldspan and Apollo/Galileo, sent out a note to subscribers with a graphic explaining the new fare families and a quick reference guide for agents to use when booking the fare families in their Travelport GDSs. Sabre said agents could shop, book and ticket the new fares.

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