June 14, 2017
Six Reasons Why I WON’T Book BASIC Economy

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Basic Economy gets you an economy class seat with a host of restrictions. Delta, United, and American all offer Basic Economy fares, and they’re expanding to more and more routes. What do you get in exchange for six huge restrictions? You save about $25. While the exact details of what comes with basic economy vary by airline, here are the six basic restrictions:

Restrictive Seat Assignments

Seats assignments are given at check-in. American and United will assign you a seat at check-in, while Delta will let you choose a seat at that time. This means you’re one of the last people to get a seat on the airplane-so there’s a good chance you’re the one getting the middle seat.

Ticket Change Restrictions

When you purchase a normal economy, business, or first class ticket, you typically have 24 hours to change or cancel without a penalty. With Basic Economy fares on legacy carriers, you can’t make any changes or cancel the ticket.

Carry-on Restrictions

American and United will not allow you to bring a carry-on onboard. You can still bring personal items. They do make an exception if you have frequent flyer status with the airline or have one of their cobranded credit cards.

NO Upgrades

Perhaps the biggest rub is that you’re not eligible for upgrades if you purchase a Basic Economy ticket. While this doesn’t matter to a casual leisure flyer, it spits in the face of frequent flyers who go out of their way to attain airline status. One of the best perks about status is receiving upgrades when there’s space available. You’re a loyal customer who gives us a lot of business? We won’t give you anything in return.

Reduced/No Elite Qualifying Credit

In order to attain elite status with airlines, you need to fly a certain amount of elite qualifying miles or segments, and spend a certain amount of dollars-depending on the level of status. With Basic Economy, you’ll typically earn less or no elite qualifying miles & dollars than a regular Economy ticket.

Last to Board

And finally, you get to be the last group to board the plane-which means you won’t be getting overhead bin space. If you have an airline co-branded credit card, you can typically avoid this restriction and be one of the first few groups to board.

The concept of basic economy was introduced by low-cost carriers like Spirit, Norwegian, and WOW as a way to offer customers the cheapest price possible to get them to their destinations-and that business model works well for budget airlines. If all you want is a seat on a plane, and literally nothing else, basic economy is for you. You can find Economy tickets from the US to Europe for $100 thanks to budget airlines-and that’s a terrific option to have!


That being said, Basic Economy on Delta, United, and American doesn’t actually get you the lowest possible price like it does on traditional low-cost carriers. The US3 are charging the same price for Basic Economy that they used to charge for Economy while increasing the price of an Economy ticket. That means you’re getting a bare-bones stripped down product for the price you used to pay. If you want to maintain the same Economy experience you used to have, you’ll have to pay extra for it.


There’s really no good solution if you’re a frequent flyer and want to maintain the benefits of airline status. Basic Economy is pointless if you have status, as most of your status perks are useless if you’re flying Basic Economy and you get reduced or no elite qualifying credit for your flights. This means that frequent flyers now have to pay about an extra $25 each way for a regular economy ticket for the privilege of utilizing their elite status. Way to penalize your most loyal customers. Are the benefits of airline status even worth the hassle at this point? You could just fly JetBlue-which doesn’t overbook flights and doesn’t drag doctors off their planes.


Featured Image Courtesy of Getty Images