How to Avoid Getting Burned by ‘Basic Economy’ This Summer
Overhead bin space? Forget about it.
Summer travel season has begun, and airlines have a surprise waiting for unsuspecting vacationers: Basic economy.
The new fare class, which airlines claim offers consumers more choice, has many passengers confused as to what exactly is included. United Airlines’ new “basic economy” tickets, for example, come with major restrictions.
As Business Insider reported, customers who book basic economy are only allowed to bring one small personal item on the plane without having to pay extra. Overhead bin space? Forget about it.
Additionally, basic economy passengers cannot choose, change, or upgrade their seats — and must board the plane last.
The company first tested the new fare in February and rolled it out nationwide just a few weeks ago. Many passengers who weren't aware of all of the restrictions are taking out their frustrations on social media.
However, as Business Insider noted, in order to book the ticket, customers must click through a pop-up which explains the lack of amenities. Additionally, United outlines the total abandonment of any bells or whistles for basic economy on its site.
The airline might ignore the complaints, considering it is poised to make an extra $3.1 billion off basic fares by 2018. And the airline isn’t alone: Delta Air Lines and American are in on basic fares, too. Although restrictions that come with the fare on each airline vary.
While the basic flight experience doesn’t sound all that thrilling, it can be a way to save a few bucks — so long as you are prepared. (Although, as Bloomberg reported, the fare is basically designed to make you pay more.)
As Travel+Leisure previously explained, simply answer these questions before you decide to book basic: Do I really, really, need a window or aisle seat? Can I travel extremely light? Like extremely? Can I wait to board last?
If you answered yes to all three questions, then go ahead and try your hand at this stripped-down travel experience. Just don’t say we — or the airlines — didn’t warn you.