Basic Economy: When Misery Doesn’t Love Company

Travelers may have noticed that airlines have introduced a new class of service. Basic Economy, aka “Misery Class” is the new and unimproved class of service providing passengers seats… only if they’re lucky. Delta has been offering this “service” and now, American and United are following suit. Not everyone is happy about it. 

Airline pricing tactics are complicated and airlines have historically struggled to turn demand into profit. Basic Economy presents a false sense of savings for travelers. The fares are not in every market; however, availability is growing and here are a few points travelers need to know.

  • Basic Economy passengers will board last.
  • Basic Economy seats will be assigned at the airport. More times than not, the seats will be middle seats and in the back of the plane.
  • Basic Economy passengers play “airplane seat roulette” and typically sit next to complete strangers. This may not be a concern for solo travelers, however, those with children need to take note.
  • American and United will not allow Basic Economy passengers to use the overhead bin. Basic Economy passengers are permitted to stow one personal item under the seat in front of them.
  • Basic Economy tickets bought from Delta, United or American cannot be changed. If a traveler accidentally purchases a plane ticket to Indianapolis instead of Minneapolis, guess what…? A brand new ticket must be purchased.
  • Frequent Flyer Miles may not be earned when flying Basic Economy on certain airlines.

Even if the fares are $30 less expensive, it’s important to know that Basic Economy may not be the best value. The difference is usually made up with extra fees and charges. Whether traveling for business or pleasure, consumers can no longer simply focus on obtaining the lowest price. Purchasing Basic Economy fares can lead to a miserable travel experience. Know the full story before sharing your credit card information.


July 2017 Compass

About Michelle Stiles

Michelle Stiles, Director of Technology and Operational Excellence for Aladdin Travel, has been in the travel industry since 1997. Prior to joining Aladdin Travel, she worked in the Corporate Travel Department for a major retailer. She enjoys traveling with her husband and 3 boys.

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