Goodbye, Shuttle. Hello, Select.
American Airlines plans a revamp of the marketing for its high frequency, business-focused routes in 2022. Along with shedding the “American Shuttle” branding, the carrier will expand what it considers high-frequency business markets and add a new fare type, dubbed Main Select.
We are revamping the high-frequency travel experience to meet the needs of today’s business customers. That means creating an easy and seamless travel experience that has the amenities they want, the flexibility they need and a network that offers access to any destination they want to go.– Chief Revenue Officer Vasu Raja
Main Select fares will be fully refundable and offer several benefits typically reserved for AAdvantage Elite members. Most notably, Main Select passengers can select any seat in the coach cabin, including Main Cabin Extra, with the additional legroom. Also included are priority check-in, security, and boarding.
If this sounds something like a rebranding of full-fare economy class fares there’s probably a good reason for that. But Main Select comes not just as a way to market more expensive fares to business travelers as corporate travel resumes.
End of the Shuttle
Thanks to American’s realignment of operations under its Northeast Alliance (NEA) with JetBlue, the Shuttle is not what it once was. Historically the Shuttle connected the Boston/LaGuardia/DCA triangle, plus a spur for LaGuardia-O’Hare.
The NEA shifted those operations. JetBlue’s role in those markets continues to expand. It is expected to soon operate all the flights for the pair between Boston and LaGuardia, for example. The two carriers share operations between Boston and DCA to offer more even coverage throughout the day.
Given the shared operations between the airlines, it is no surprise that American’s Main Select fare appears designed to more closely match the benefits of one Blue Extra, the fare option JetBlue pitches as focused on business travelers.
Like many of the NEA alignments between the two programs, however, the benefits don’t quite match.
Blue Extra also offers priority boarding and security lanes, plus free same-day changes. Blue Extra fares are not fully refundable by default, though that option can be selected. And, unlike Main Select, Blue Extra does not allow selection of the extra legroom seats on JetBlue flights.
An additional benefit to American is the ability to easily grow the Main Select reach into its route network. While “Shuttle” flights had certain, specific expectations, the Main Select fare can be sold pretty much anywhere.
The carrier suggests Los Angeles and Dallas-Fort Worth could see the new fare added for some destinations in the near future.
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