Here’s The Breakdown Of The Changes In Basic Economy For 2019

It’s January so you know what that means…it’s time to look at what changes airlines have made in the rules for basic economy tickets over the last year. In 2018, every airline tweaked their offerings and Alaska Airlines introduced their version of a basic economy ticket, called Saver Fares. In 2019, it shouldn’t, be a surprise that they’ve all made changes, yet again, when it comes to the rules for basic economy.

Here’s the breakdown for each airline when flying a domestic U.S. route as of January 2019. Rules can be different for international flights booked in Basic Economy and can be found on each airline’s website.

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United Has Changed Their Basic Economy Fare Rules, Again

Basic Economy. If there is one thing about airfares that airlines are constantly changing, the rules for basic economy fares would have to be at the top of the list. It’s understandable why management keeps changing the rules. These fares were entirely new and they didn’t know how customers would react. You’re trying to be Goldilocks and not have the porridge too hot or too cold but the odds are that you’re going to overshoot one way or the other when setting the rules up on your first try.

However, I think United is up to their fourth or fifth try to get their Basic Economy rules “just right.” The most recent change to the rules involves how many elite miles you’ll earn when flying Basic Economy with United, and took effect on December 11, 2018.

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A Conversation With A Passenger Who Unknowingly Had A Basic Economy Ticket On United

Our last flight on United was when we flew to Chicago. I wrote about how when purchasing the ticket I paid the ransom the extra $15 for the right to choose our seats and bring on a roll-aboard carry on bag. I booked an aisle seat and a window seat, leaving an open middle seat. I often do this, hoping that we’ll end up on a flight that will be partially empty and no one would willingly pick a middle seat. At worst, we always offer the person with the middle seat the aisle or window (they are usually thrilled to be out of the middle seat anyway and we’ve never had anyone refuse).


As a reminder, this is how United describes a Basic Economy ticket (bold for emphasis):

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Please Tell Me This Won’t Be The Future Of Basic Economy

We all know that Basic Economy is the airline class where they nickel and dime you to death. Every since the airlines’ versions of Basic Economy have started, if you’ve wanted virtually anything – overhead space, an aisle or widow seat, etc., you have to pay for that privilege. Whereas some of the major airlines are realizing that Basic Economy may not be all that it’s cracked up to be and are easing some of their restrictions, others are digging their heels into the ground and, I would bet, are thinking of other ways they can charge their customers.

This video was released nearly a decade before the term “Basic Economy” began rearing its ugly head everywhere, but I wonder if, despite it being a humorous piece on low cost airlines, it’s foreshadowing of what may yet to be in some sectors of the airline industry. After all, if some airlines are willing to subject their passengers to the likes of this and this, who’s to say the things portrayed in the video won’t become a reality someday? 😉

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Buyer Beware: Do Your Homework Before Booking a Flight With A “Basic” Fare

I’ve been doing some serious planning for our upcoming domestic travels. Since I’ve booked most of our recent flights on Southwest or JetBlue, two of our favorite airlines, I haven’t been paying much attention to changes the major airlines like American, Delta and United have made to their basic economy fares. I know they started to offer bare bone, or basic airfares, claiming that this will help them remain competitive with low cost airlines.

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