Recently, Simple Flying reported on flights on major US airlines for as low as $16 one-way. However, it appears that American Airlines has been leading the charge in terms of offering low roundtrip fares. Now, the airline is offering transcontinental flights – about 11 hours of flying – for as low as $40 through early summer. But why?
Low transcontinental fares
For a recap, here are some low roundtrip transcontinental fares on American Airlines. First, there is this flight from Los Angeles to Miami for $41 roundtrip:
Then, there’s this Philadelphia to Los Angles flight for $57 roundtrip.
There is also Dallas to Boston for $57.
There’s another flight for $41 from Las Vegas to Miami.
These fares are all in Basic Economy. To upgrade to Main Cabin with a few more perks, the cost is usually about $50-60 more roundtrip. Still, a bit low. Later this year, on the same routes, fares are usually about 2-5x more than the current fares. However, there is something else interesting to note about this.
First Class fares are still the same
First Class fares have not seen a major reduction in cost. In fact, those fares hover around the upper $900s to $1000. It should be noted that most of these First Class products are recliner-style and not lie-flats that sometimes are available on transcontinental routes. Miami to Los Angeles, for example, is available for $905 in First.
Then, there is Philadelphia to Los Angeles for just shy of $1,200.
A quick scan of the seatmaps on these flights show that the planes are about 50% full on these dates. While the price of economy class is significantly cut, American seems to think its premium products are selling fine and do not need a reduction in fees. Granted, these are nonstop flights out of hubs. In the United States, flights in and out of major hubs generally do have higher fares in premium cabins in part because airlines have a better on-the-ground experience at hubs.
Straddling the middle
Airlines, in recent years, have had to straddle between being full-service carriers and competing with low-cost carriers. American has cut seat pitch, added more seats onboard, ditched seatback screens, removed more complimentary items from coach, including bags and meals, and charged for seat selection. This is not too far out from other low-cost carriers.
These prices are not too far off what some low-cost carriers, such as Spirit Airlines, are offering on similar routes. Perhaps, American is offering these flights at a low cost not just because of demand, but also because low-cost carriers are also cutting fares. Given the incredibly reduced number of travelers, American Airlines has more of an incentive to try and fill its aircraft to make a slim profit or else further reduce losses.
American’s low fares are likely in response to low-cost carriers cutting fares as both try to compete for the few passengers who are traveling. Back in economy, there are some lower fares available on transcontinental routes, but not up front. Although, AAdvantage elites might be noticing some more upgrades than before. However, now is really not the time for leisure travel.
What do you make of American’s low fares? Let us know in the comments!