The Best Out of Basic Economy Fares

Posted by Holly Hou on 8/21/20 12:24 PM

Traveling doesn’t always have to be luxurious, especially if you’re making a short trip and just need to get from Point A to Point B. If this is the case, basic economy may be the fare you’re looking for! Basic economy is the most affordable option airlines offer travelers, in exchange for giving up some of the benefits of a standard economy ticket, which varies depending on your airline.

Basic economy fares are generally the most restrictive. However, due to the pandemic, airlines have been more flexible with flight changes across all ticket types. Changes are now allowed by most airlines offering basic economy fares. During this time, you don’t have to worry about being locked in if you have a basic economy fare. If you’re ready to travel, you can take advantage of this flexibility and fly with peace of mind at the most affordable price!


What are the benefits of basic economy?

Affordable fares. Purchasing a basic economy fare can help you save expenses on your trip. Basic economy fares are generally the cheapest option and you’ll still be able to go where you need to. You can use the saved money to get yourself a spa treatment instead of buying a regular economy ticket!


Amenities. You can still take advantage of some of the basic airline amenities, such as free snacks, movies, TV, music, and games, as well as get seated in the same section as you would with a standard economy fare. Pay less, get the same amenities!


Less hassle. Since you can’t bring a carry-on bag, you won’t need to worry about looking for overhead bin space. Just go straight to your seat, lay back and relax!


What restrictions are there?

Changes/cancellations. Since basic economy is the most affordable fare, it comes with high restrictions. This type of fare generally cannot be changed or canceled. However, during this pandemic, airlines have been more flexible with changes due to the unique circumstances. We are here to help you cancel it free-of-charge within 24 hours from the time of booking.


Seat assignments. Unlike other fares, you are generally not able to select your seats when booking in advance unless you pay an additional fee. However, some airlines will let you select seats as early as 48 hours before departure, but still only in the last section of the aircraft.


Pack light! Depending on your airline, you may be allowed only one personal item (such as a backpack or shoulder bag) so you won’t have access to the overhead bin to bring a carry-on bag. You’ll need to pack light since your bag must fit under the seat in front of you. If you bring a carry-on bag to the gate, you will have to check the bag and pay a fee.

Last to board. Passengers who booked a seat in basic economy will be in the last boarding group. This does not mean that you’re in the waitlist as your seat is still booked.


What are some of the restrictions of each major airlines’ basic economy fare?

Alaska Airlines’s Saver fare allows its passengers to pre-select their seats for a fee, though there are fewer options than their standard economy or Main fare. Also, you are able to bring one carry-on and a personal item; however, the overhead bin is on a first-come, first-served basis. You are also not allowed to change your flight.



American Airlines’s Basic Economy lets you choose a specific seat at any time for a fee. Otherwise, seats will be automatically assigned for free at check-in. If you’re traveling with a child under 15, AA’s system will search for seats together before the departure. You can also board with 1 carry-on and 1 personal item. If you’re traveling within North America, you are not allowed to make changes to your flight. 



Delta Airlines’s Basic Economy lets you enjoy the lowest fare when you book a Basic Economy, but seats will be assigned after check-in and you will not be able to change or refund your ticket after the Risk Free Cancellation Period. You will have access to the overhead bin, so you can bring a carry-on bag.


United Airlines’s Basic Economy allows you to bring a personal item; however full-sized carry-on bags are required to be checked in for a fee on all routes other than trans-Atlantic flights. Complimentary seat selection is not available, so you must pay an additional fee if you choose to do so. Please note that if you’re traveling in a group, you may need to purchase a seat if you want to be seated next to each other.



Air Canada’s Economy Basic does not allow changes, upgrades or cancellations. Also, you must pay a fee to select your seat on the flight, otherwise you can wait to be assigned free-of-charge at check-in (please note that for Air Canada’s standard economy fare, you still have to pay a fee to select your seat, but the fee is lower). You also won’t be earning miles for flights within North America. You are allowed a carry-on bag.



Can I cancel a basic economy ticket? 

Before you reach the “use it or lose it” stage, you can cancel your nonrefundable ticket within 24 hours from the time of booking. Outside of this window, you are unable to cancel your ticket and receive a refund or credit.


Is it really the cheapest option? 

Basic economy is the cheapest option, so long as you do not use any amenities that are excluded from the fare. You should compare the differences in amenities between basic economy and standard economy fares. Since basic economy fares would charge a fee for some amenities that are included with standard economy, determine which amenities you would use (e.g. carry-on bag, seat selection) and calculate the total ticket cost for basic economy with these additional fees. The basic economy may end up being more expensive than the standard economy when you add these amenities a la carte. If this is the case, you may as well buy the standard economy fare!

Booking a basic economy class isn’t a waste if you’re cost-savvy. We hope this blog helps you be aware of its inclusions and restrictions. No more surprises on your next booking! As always, if you need any assistance on your booking (be it basic economy or not), we are here for you!


Topics: Air Travel, COVID-19

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