Everything you need to know about Basic Economy fares

One of the game changers in the travel industry this year is that the three largest legacy carriers in the United States (American, Delta, and United) will now offer Basic Economy fares to appeal to very cost-conscious travelers.

What is a Basic Economy fare? Think main cabin economy, and then take away the perks. These fares present challenges for business travelers in terms of choice, convenience, and flexibility. This is why we want to say up front that Egencia does not offer Basic Economy fares for sale.

Given that travel managers are increasingly concerned about the traveler experience and traveler satisfaction, we wanted to help you better understand these fares so you can educate your company. (For more on traveler satisfaction, read the Egencia joint whitepaper with Sabre highlighting several great ways to make 2017 The Year of the Business Traveler.)

Basic Economy fares may not be what business travelers are used to, as they do not include several privileges that have become staples of business and leisure travel. With a few nuances, the fares in this category generally prevent travelers from:

  • Choosing a specific seat (American allows it, but a fee applies)
  • Making a change or getting a refund (Delta and United allow refunds within a short time frame)
  • Using the overhead carry-on bin (Delta allows it, but you board last)

The picture changes slightly for those with status memberships or for holders of certain types of credit cards. In addition to the traveler experience, the limitations on refunds and exchanges are an important financial consideration for companies.

Egencia supports most fares from these and other airlines, but we view Basic Economy as particularly business-unfriendly.  For most corporate travelers, the experience of flying on a Basic Economy fare is unlikely to be a positive one unless he or she is well aware of the limitations.

As the industry absorbs the implications of Basic Economy fares, we will keep you up to speed. We will also continue to keep our eye on how to best serve our corporate customers and travelers with inventory curated for you.

Read more about Basic Economy