What is basic economy?
Basic economy is a class below regular economy, offering cheaper prices to travelers because fewer amenities are on offer. The experience will vary from one airline to the next, often meaning that passengers forego a carry-on bag, receive a seat after check-in, and lack the ability to change tickets or perform an upgrade.
This class of ticket was introduced by Delta Air Lines in 2012, with competing airlines following suit over the years.
How much cheaper is basic economy?
The price of these flights will vary depending on the airline and the route, but passengers could find that they can save up to 50% when compared to a regular economy tickets. Of course, the savings can often make basic economy a poor choice; if the traveler saves just $10 it might not be worth it.
Calculating the viability of this class is often complex, and the outcome depends on the priorities and preferences of each individual traveler.
When does it make sense to fly basic economy?
If a traveler has a co-brand credit card that grants them free checked baggage, basic economy could be a good choice given that one of the key disadvantages are resolved. Basic economy also makes sense for solo travelers, given that they do not need to sit alongside fellow travelers.
How can passengers improve their basic economy experience?
If a passenger opts for basic economy, there are a few tricks that they can use to make their experience a more pleasant one. This includes packing light to avoid the large surcharges and checked bag fees.
Checking-in earlier can also boost the probability of receiving a window or aisle seat, so this should be a priority for basic economy passengers. Entertainment and snacks are often not included, so travelers might want to think ahead by packing some food and something to do on the plane.
Some travelers might find that they want to use the money they have saved to pay for other perks, too. A passenger might decide to visit the airport lounge before their flight, for example, and enjoy the amenities there rather than on their flight.
Are international routes covered by basic economy?
Currently, international routes are not available. Delta and AA are rumored to be planning for basic economy on international routes, however, which could see increased global adoption by a range of other airlines.