Do You Know What Basic Economy Class Entails?


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After the three major U.S. legacy airlines have introduced basic economy fare classes in order to attract more fliers by offering less expensive tickets, a great confusion among American economy class travellers has arisen.

Although „basic economy“ is the term that has already entered the daily lexicon of air travellers, this concept still seems to remain covered by a fog of mystery and misinformation.

Acquiring a basic economy ticket does not imply that a passenger will be seated somewhere in a cargo area without a possibility to enjoy the view through the plane‘s window.

Correspondingly, basic economy is a discount fare class that exists within an airline‘s economy cabin.

It means that basic economy travellers as well as those who paid more money for a main cabin economy ticket are offered exactly the same in-flight services. Nevertheless, there are several essential differences that make basic economy distinct from other fare classes.


Passengers willing to spend the least amount of money on air travelling are greatly restricted, especially in terms of carry-on luggage. For example, American Airlines and United allow to board with a small handback fitting under the seat and give no access to overhead bins, while Delta permits to use overhead bin space.

Generally, basic economy passengers are not allowed to travel with larger carry-on bags that must be checked at ticket counters. However, the passengers of American Airlines and United who will take larger bags to the gate will pay an extra $25 gate service fee per item plus the applicable bag fee.


Basic economy passengers of Delta and United have no opportunity to pre-select seats when buying a ticket. They are automatically assigned prior to boarding and are not able to change the seat.

Meanwhile American Airlines provides their basic economy passengers with an opportunity to choose a specific seat within 48 hours of departure, although a fee is applied.


All the three U.S. airlines do not allow basic economy fare holders to receive any post-purchase refund or do any changes to a ticket.


Finally, regardless the airlines, basic economy passengers are the last to board the plane.

These are the main restrictions for basic economy travellers, although the level of their tightness obviously varies depending on the carrier.

Basic Economy is a value-fare option for customers who require less flexibility.

Whether basic economy proves to be a success for American, Delta, and United remains to be seen. It is up to the flying public to vote.