Basic Economy: The New Cheapest Way to Fly

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Delta airplain in the sky

Want to save money on your next flight?

It will mean doing without some luxuries like the use of the overhead storage bins, but hey, it might be worth it just to get from Point A to Point B.

American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta are offering passengers a lower-priced option to fly: basic economy.

What do you get for Basic Economy?

Well, a cheaper flight in exchange for some sacrifices, but it might not be so bad for price-sensitive travelers if it means being able to afford a dream vacation.

The options vary slightly from carrier to carrier and are outlined below.

Economy Fare with Deltafloor level view of under the seats in an airplane

Delta domestic flights now offer the following four fare classes:

  • basic economy (still in the main cabin)
  • main cabin economy
  • comfort+
  • and first class

Details of Delta’s Basic Economy include:

  • Receive seat assignment after check-in or at the gate.
  • Passengers traveling together, including families, may not be seated together.
  • You will not be eligible for same-day changes or ticket refunds after the Risk Free Cancellation Period.
  • You will board in the last zone
  • Not eligible for paid or complimentary upgrades or preferred seats (even with Medallion® Status)

Despite this, Delta reports that roughly half of its customers who look at the restrictions of basic economy opt to pay more.

Economy Fare with American AirlinesAmerican airlines plane flying

American Airlines’ economy fare is in the main cabin and includes free snacks, soft drinks and inflight entertainment.

The restrictions include:

  • One item (purse or small handbag) that fits under the seat in front of you
  • no access to overhead bins
  • Seats assigned at check-in
  • Fees to choose a specific seat
  • Not eligible for upgrades
  • No flight changes or refunds
  • Board in last group

Economy Fare with United Airlinesunited airlines aiplane

The information on United Airlines website for economy fare is very similar to American Airlines:

  • Seat selection and upgrades are not available
  • Group and family seating is not available
  • Full-sized carry-on bags are not permitted
  • One personal item is allowed
  • Flight changes and refunds are not allowed
  • Certain MileagePlus and Premier member benefits are not available

Don’t Dismiss Economy Fare Seats for Short Domestic Flights

Many people reported that the “last to board” policy for economy flights was a deal breaker for them. Maybe you are someone who is always running late anyway–so it wouldn’t matter. Either way, check out the rates when you book your next flight, you might save some money.

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