Airlines Are Now Offering A Cheaper ‘Basic Economy’ Fare—But Here’s What You’ll Have To Give Up

Is this no-frills fare class right for you?

Air travel is definitely not cheap, and with all of the extra charges many airlines tack on for food and drinks, checking a bag, a seat assignment or priority boarding, things can really add up before you see the final cost of your ticket. When shopping for flights, budget travelers often opt for the cheapest option, even if that means carrying on, lining up for seats and bringing their own food. But what if the cheapest tickets took no frills to the next level, even eliminating a traveler’s ability to bring a carry-on bag?

American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines are all introducing a new class of “Basic Economy” tickets and there are definitely no perks to be had here. Although the seats are the same as you would get with a regular economy ticket, these tickets don’t allow you to select a seat, stow a carry-on in the overhead compartments or make any changes to your ticket. You’ll also have to board last when it’s time to get on the plane. The upside: The ticket will come at a cheaper cost.

Customers will still have the option to place a bag underneath their seat, but if they plan to check a bag, they’ll incur the typical baggage fee, usually around $25. They will also still receive the same level of service as the regular economy passengers, with snack and drink services, access to WiFi, and more.

These practices are already common on budget airlines such as Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines, but are newer for these larger, major carriers. United and Delta already offer their “Basic Economy Tickets,” with American Airlines announcing that they will soon be following suit. 

If you love to save a few bucks when you travel, even when it’s at the expense of some comfort and convenience, this “Basic Economy” class could be for you. But if your travel plans aren’t set in stone, and you like to carry your suitcase on the plane with you or wish to sit next to a family member, you’ll probably want to stick with a regular ticket.