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American NDC Fares Analysis (Week 3): Premium Customers Pay More

American NDC Fares Analysis (Week 3): Premium Customers Pay More

When American's modern retailing strategy was announced in December, one common response from legacy corporate travel providers was "don't worry, only Basic Economy fares will be affected."* And three weeks in, those same providers will tell you that premium corporate customers – customers who need flexible tickets or fly in premium cabins – are less likely to be affected.

Overall we see lower fares in AmTrav's NDC-enabled booking platform across American's network on 36% of American bookings, with those lower fares averaging $132 lower per booking – but what about these Basic Economy and premium fare claims? Let's look at the cabin (Economy, First, etc.) and fare attributes (Basic, standard, Flexible, etc.) – also known as “fare brands” – to understand which customers are paying more. Some findings are unsurprising, some are very surprising:

  • No surprise: as expected, American’s lowest, most-restrictive Basic Economy fares are often cheaper via NDC in AmTrav than legacy corporate channels without NDC access, cheaper 85% of the time, and a steep 30% cheaper at that.**
  • No surprise: next, American's most-popular standard Economy fares are cheaper on 32% of itineraries via NDC in AmTrav, 17% cheaper on average.
  • Surprise: refundable Economy Flexible fares are more expensive via legacy corporate channels without NDC access on 93% of bookings, with fares averaging 47% higher. First class and First Flexible are more expensive 82% and 88% of the time respectively, averaging 25% higher than in AmTrav.

(This represents most but not 100% of fares. Nearly 10% of AmTrav's American economy sales are in Main Plus and Main Select extra legroom seating fares that are exclusively available via NDC. We don’t yet have enough data to report on Premium Economy and Business fares.)

So what? So it's not just Basic, and premium customers are in fact most often affected.

The impact on Basic Economy was expected. And if you’re looking for an argument that corporate programs aren’t that badly affected, the fact that American’s most popular Economy fares are slightly less likely to be higher via corporate channels without NDC access is your argument. (Travelers will find lower Economy fares on AA.com, NDC-enabled channels like Google Flights and Expedia, and pay more on only 32% of Economy fares.)

Those premium fare differences are striking. Any customers who buy a flexible Economy fare because they might need refundability or out of habit (consultants, lawyers), any executive or premium customer who buys First fares – these customers are paying substantially more on almost all of their bookings.

We conclude this week the way we concluded last week: every corporate customer big and small, spendthrift and thrifty, is paying substantially more for their travel on American Airlines because they rely on legacy corporate platforms that aren't connected to American's NDC technology. 

By the way, are you following #CompareYourFares on LinkedIn? Every day we highlight an American Airlines fare difference between NDC channels and non-NDC channels that you can see for yourself.

*Here's an example in a January 2023 email:

Its only basic

**Clarifying on Basic: American Basic Economy domestically is exclusive to NDC-enabled channels, no longer available via legacy corporate tools that don't have access to American NDC. Our comparison is between the Basic Economy fares booked by AmTrav customers (some folks do buy Basic, it's about 4% of our Economy fare sales in this sample) and the lowest Economy fare available in those non-NDC channels. We believe that's an accurate picture, those 4% of sales would've had to pay 30% more to buy up to Economy without access to American's lowest NDC fares in AmTrav.

 

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