The idea of a ‘basic’ economy class ticket isn’t new: Less frills, less cost. Let’s break down the pros and cons to buying this type of plane seat.
USA TODAY NETWORK
PHOENIX — Shopping for airline tickets just got more complicated.
American Airlines, the world’s largest carrier, has expanded its no-frills basic economy fares to most U.S. routes after testing themÂ on select flights for months.
With thatÂ expansion in early September, three of the big four U.S. airlines âÂ American, United and Delta âÂ now offer basic economy fares throughout the country. (Southwest Airlines does not offer them.) Shop for a Phoenix-Chicago flight on Expedia and the cheapest flights that pop up areÂ in basic economy. Ditto on airline websites if you search by price.
Basic economy is not a specific section on the plane like those premium economy seatsÂ some airlines sell with extra legroom and other perks. It’s simply a cheaper fareÂ that comes with so many restrictions that critics call it third class or steerage.Â Southwest’s CEO has called it second class.Â
What you don’t â and do â get
Travelers with basic economy tickets don’t get to chooseÂ their seats when they book, even for a fee;Â can’t stow a carry-on in the overhead bin on American and United (Delta allows it);Â board last; and can’t make flight changes or request refunds.
They do get the same in-flight servicesÂ and frequent-flier miles as other passengers and are allowed to check bags for the usual fees.
FIRST-HAND ACCOUNT:Â Basic economy: What it’s like in airlines’ cheapest seats
Basic economy fares were created to compete with bargain fares offered by rapidly growing no-frills carriers Spirit, Frontier and Allegiant airlines. On those airlines, passengers have come to expect a slew of restrictions, no perks and a pile of fees.
But bare-bones faresÂ are new on major airlines so it’s buyer beware,…