You Heard It First From
All You Wanted To Know About Basic Economy Fares.
Thanks to by MEREDITH CAREY
Basic economy has been making the rounds for a few years now—Delta launched its bare-bones fares back in 2012—but with more and more airlines joining the game, it can be hard to remember who charges you for a seat, or even just to print your boarding pass.
Sites like Google Flights and Kayak can help, alerting you to baggage fees and restrictions when you purchase your flight so you don't end up in a middle seat with your duffel crammed under the seat in front of you. But they don't answer all the questions. Below, every major U.S. airline that offers basic economy and the ones that thankfully don't—yet.
Economy Basic is a restricted fare that lets you enjoy the comfort and amenities of our Economy Class cabin at the lowest price.
The Economy Basic fare is offered on select international flights between Canada and destinations over the Atlantic and the Pacific, select flights within Canada and to the U.S., and on select Sun destinations.
This fare will be available on select flights to Japan and Taiwan as of November 1, 2019.
Economy Basic offers you:
Complimentary carry-on baggage
A personal 22.6 cm (8.9”) touch-screen TV
Hundreds of hours of top-rated entertainment
In-seat power for your laptop and a single-pin audio jack for your headset
Delicious snacks, drinks and meals for purchase
Lowest price – fewer options
Changes / Cancellations No flight changes, no cancellations.
Refundability No refund after 24 hours, no credit for future travel.
Miles Earned Within North America:
To/from Sun Destinations:
25% Aeroplan® Miles/Altitude Qualifying Miles1
On select international flights:
25% Aeroplan® Miles/Altitude Qualifying Miles1
Upgrades No access
Tickets purchased in the econo (lowest) class will not be eligible for refund, exchange or name changes should travel plans require cancellation or changes.
There's no option to select pre-reserved seating during the booking process. Instead, a seat will be automatically assigned to passengers at the time of booking. Guests will have the option to select a standard seat at check-in at the airport for a fee.
As with their regular Econo fares, checked bag fees apply ($25 for the first bag, $35 for the second bag).
Upgrades to WestJet Plus seating at the time of check-in will not be available with the Econo (Lowest) fare.
WestJet Rewards members travelling on an Econo (Lowest) fare will not earn WestJet dollars, and the booking is not eligible towards qualifying flight spend to reach Silver or Gold status.
Econo (Lowest) fares may not be available on every flight and in every market
Alaska announced its "Saver Fare" in April 2018, and it's basic economy in everything but name. Though Alaska's version of the no-frills ticket gives you a seat assignment as soon as you book and your carry-on won't cost you extra, your seat will always be in the back of the plane, and you'll be the last to board. Once the 24-hour cancellation period (a federally-mandated rule for all flights booked in the U.S.) passes, you won't be able to cancel or change your ticket. You won't even be able to upgrade your seat, so if you've got buyer's remorse, tough luck. The fares will begin rolling out in January 2019.
Allegiant Air does not specifically have basic economy, but its all-economy, à la carte model fits the bill. You have to pay for seat selection (up to $80 if you want extra legroom), a carry-on ($10-$75 each way, depending on distance), changing or canceling your ticket ($75), and even printing your boarding pass at the airport ($5). So, unless you put out for the fees and additional perks, you're flying basic economy.
Starting September 5, 2018, American Airlines' basic economy will include a free carry-on bag (wohoo) in addition to a personal item. You won't get a seat assignment until you check-in, unless you want to pony up $10-$40 to choose your own seat 48 hours before your flight. Regardless of your seat, you'll be in the last boarding group, but since you won't have to fight for bin space, it's not the worst feature.
Know that other than paying for a seat assignment, you won't be able to upgrade your ticket or change your flight after booking. You'll get the same in-flight service as every other passenger, like complimentary drinks and access to the entertainment systems.
Even if you're an elite or card-carrying AAdvantage member, qualifying status miles are cut in half if you buy a basic economy fare.
American also has basic economy on select international flights. In addition to your personal item, you can bring a carry-on for free, but checked bags are not included in your fare. At any point, you can pay for a seat assignment or get a randomly assigned seat at check-in for free. The tickets are otherwise the same as they are on domestic flights in basic economy.
Delta Air Lines
Delta may have been the first U.S. carrier to introduce basic economy, but its fares have gotten more bare bones each year. Today, you can't pick your seat (it'll be assigned at check-in) nor can you change, cancel, or upgrade your ticket after purchasing, even if you have elite Medallion status. You will get a free carry-on, though, and your first checked bag will cost the usual $25 each way on domestic flights. As with other basic economy fares, you'll get the same treatment once on-board, with free drinks and in-flight entertainment.
Delta also has basic economy on many of its international flights. All of the above applies, but your first checked bag will be $60 on flights between the U.S. and Europe or North Africa. (On those same European and North African routes, all other passengers get at least one free checked bag.) Almost all other international carriers allow one free checked bag, even in basic economy.
Much like Allegiant Air, Frontier is basic economy by default. Carry-ons cost $30-$60, depending on whether you pay for your bag at booking or at the gate. Checked bags are $25 to $60 and seat selection starts at $6. Changes to your itinerary cost $99.
Hawaiian is the most recent airline to add basic economy in September 2019. Its Main Cabin Basic launch has been a long time coming, since its CEO started been hinting at a basic economy fare back in December 2017.
The fare includes one free carry-on and a personal item, plus a complimentary meal on flights to and from Hawaii like all other passengers. You won't be able to select your seat before check-in, change flight or itinerary, or upgrade to Extra Comfort or first class.
You'll also be among the last to board (so don't be surprised if you have to gate check your carry-on). As for all Hawaiian passengers, you'll have to pony up $30 for your first checked bag.
JetBlue does not currently offer basic economy, but is also keeping an eye on other airlines with ultra-low fare classes.
Southwest does not offer basic economy.
Spirit is among the ranks of U.S. budget airlines like Frontier and Allegiant. Its normal base fares are stripped down, and any additional services will cost you. A personal item that will fit under the seat in front of you (18 x 14 x 8 inches) is free, a carry-on costs between $21 and $65, and checked bags start at $30.
Seat assignments start at $5 if you want to choose it for yourself, or are free at check-in. Changes to your itinerary, or cancellations, cost $90.
Sun Country Airlines
The airline's Grab & Go fares are essentially also basic economy. You can only bring a personal item only (17 x 13 x 9 inches). If you want to carry-on a small bag or check a larger one, but not both, you'll have to choose another fare class (Check & Go or Store & Go). Change fees start at $50 and seat selection on Sun Country starts at just $2, based on the route.
Like American, you can select your seat within 48 hours of departure in basic economy class—for a fee between $5 and $10, of course.You'll also get the same amenities as other passengers, like complimentary food and beverages and in-flight entertainment.
You'll have to board in the very last group, but since you can only bring a personal item that'll fit under the seat in front of you (17 x 10 x 8 inches), it's not too much of a hassle. If you dare bring a carry-on for the overhead bin, you'll have to pay $25 at the gate. (If you're a MileagePlus Premier member, you can bring a full size carry on, though, even in basic economy.)
Checked bags cost between $25 and $40. Plus, you can't change or cancel your flight.
United was the last of the "Big Three" carriers to join the international basic economy fray, but join it has: After announcing earlier this year that it would be rolling out the bare-bones fares on routes to Latin America and Europe sometime in 2018, United has specified they will begin selling transatlantic basic economy tickets from June 5.
You'll get pretty much what you get with an economy ticket: seat selection, free personal item and larger carry-on, regular boarding, and all of the in-flight entertainment and meals you otherwise normally would. The fine print: You'll pay $60 for your first checked bag, and won't be able to upgrade, change, or refund your ticket. United partner Air Canada will also introduce a similar product at the same time.