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American Airlines’ new bundled airfares receive mixed reviews from flyers

Dec 17, 2012 11:27 am

Skift Take

Passengers reasonably have trouble understanding just what their airfare means as prices are deconstructed and now put back together under new names. Perhaps an industry-wide standard is the only way to fairly portray fares.

— Samantha Shankman

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American Airlines' new airfare choices. aa.com

Over the last four years, airlines have been charging for extras that were previously included in the price of a plane ticket, such as checked bags, food, drinks and pillows.

The trend may be reversing, with airlines starting to bundle those extras back together again.

American Airlines announced last week that passengers who search for flights at AA.com will get several choices, ranging from a basic fare to a package that includes a ticket plus a free checked bag, early boarding, an onboard drink and the option to change flights without paying a penalty. It’s an idea that has been seized on by a few other airlines, including Air Canada and Frontier Airlines of Denver.

On Air Canada, the package deals carry names such as Tango, Latitude and Executive Class Flexible.

Frontier calls its deals Economy, “Classic and Classic Plus.

American Airlines says the new bundle deals are in response to requests from passengers for more flexibility and convenience. The Forth Worth carrier’s deals also address passenger complaints that they are often caught off guard by the extra charges they face at the airport or on the plane, airline officials said.

“This is the right thing to do,” said Rick Elieson, American’s managing director of digital marketing.

Still, the reviews on American Airlines’ Facebook page were mixed.

Some passengers said the new ticketing system makes it difficult to sort by price, departure time and arrival time.

“The old way was better — this seems confusing,” wrote a Facebook member from Miami.

But others liked the new offerings.

“Love this new website,” said a Facebook user from Cambridge. “It’s so easy!”

Elieson said American probably will tweak the Web page in the near future to address passengers’ concerns.

(c)2012 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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