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
Economy Basic 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: None 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 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.