Are Basic Economy Fares The Worst The Airlines Can Treat Us?

Are Basic Economy fares as bad as it can get for customers?  That was the question posed to me by Leland Vitter, the co-host of America’s News HQ on Fox News yesterday.

There’s been a lot of attention surrounding Basic Economy fares.  The vast majority of it isn’t good.  Delta started the trend, restricting things like seat assignments and upgrades for people buying these new “cheapest fares”.  United followed, and cut deeper than Delta did.  In addition to Delta’s restrictions, they didn’t allow carry-on bags (amongst other pain points).

American mostly mimicked Delta and United, though they allowed some elite earning on Basic Economy fares.  However, they explicitly said that in the case of travel disruption, you’ll be at the back of the line for finding a new flight.  They are at least nice enough to allow you to upgrade without penalty if you book Basic Economy by mistake.

I got to spend a few minutes debating Basic Economy with Leland Vitter on Fox News yesterday.  Leland brings up a good point.  Shouldn’t consumers be happy with how cheap airfare is, regardless of whether you get stuck in a middle seat?  Did I agree with his point?  Not really, but we had a good discussion.

Leland hypothesizes that things will get worse.  I tend to agree.  Which I guess means I’ll be back on the air in the future.

Take a few minutes to watch:


The post Are Basic Economy Fares The Worst The Airlines Can Treat Us? was published first on Pizza in Motion


  1. They could start beating their passengers….oh, wait. United already does. Well, I conclude it can’t get much worse then.

  2. It’s an opportunity to buy a ticket for cheaper. People have the opportunity to buy a higher price ticket to avoid these discomforts, but it’s a free market. On short flights – <1 hour – this could be a no brainer as a way to save a few bucks.

    1. Except it’s not cheaper – the basic economy fares are the same price as the old regular economy fares; main cabin fares have just increased.

      1. But isn’t that the point? Everything goes up in price over time. Do you think main cabin fares wouldn’t go up without these?

    2. Matt, consider that on American, you’ll be at the back of line for reaccomadation in the event of a travel disruption. So, it’s a bit more serious in some situations than just discomfort.

  3. What goes around comes around. I can’t wait for the next recession (not really). Then, the airlines will start giving back benefits. If anyone has been around long enough, you may remember the Avian bird flu from the early/mid 2000’s. Airlines were giving it away since passengers didn’t want to fly. Lots of people took full mileage earning trips from the US to Asia at that time. #GoodOldDays

    1. Dhammer, I’m insanely interested to see how the airlines handle the next downturn. I remember bird flu and 9/11. I’ll be interested to see if the airlines use their troves of data to handle things differently the next time around.

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