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American Airlines rolls out new fare structure

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

American Airlines planes sit at a gate at Washington’s Ronald Reagan National Airport, Nov. 29, 2011.

DALLAS — American Airlines is changing the way it charges you to fly.

American will charge up to $88 more per round trip for passengers who want a basic ticket that includes checking baggage or changing the reservation later on. Currently the airline levies separate fees for those and other extras for everyone except premium passengers.

It's calling the new fare levels "Choice," ''Choice Essential" and "Choice Plus."

American said Wednesday that the options will be sold on its aa.com website and through travel agents for flights in the contiguous 48 states.

Rick Elieson, managing director of aa.com, said the new pricing structure is a response to customer complaints about fees for changing a reservation.

"This will eliminate the fear about what-ifs," Elieson said. He said it will encourage customers to compare airlines by quality and reward those, "like American, that invest so much in its product."

Elieson said that American would still sell a basic fare without protection against add-on fees "for the less-discriminating passenger who is just looking for the cheapest way to get to where they've got to go."

The new fare categories:

• "Choice" tickets will be similar to the current basic economy fare. If a passenger wants to check a bag or change the reservation later, he or she will be charged extra.

• "Choice Essential" fares will cost an extra $68 per round trip and include one checked bag, no additional fee for changing the itinerary later, and early boarding.

• "Choice Plus", an extra $88 per round trip, will include a checked bag, no change fees and early boarding plus bonus miles for frequent-flier purposes, standby privileges, a drink for no additional charges and other perks.

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