Everything you need to know about Basic Economy fares – now offered in Canada


(Updated on 4/20/2018)

Basic Economic fares has been one of the game changers in the travel industry for three legacy carriers in the United States (American, Delta, and United). Basic economy is now spreading beyond the US and is offered in Canada with WestJet and Air Canada.

What is a Basic Economy fare? Think main cabin economy, and then take away the perks – Basic Economy fares usually appeal to very cost-conscious travelers. These fares present challenges for business travelers in terms of choice, convenience, and flexibility. Therefore, 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.

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, WestJet and Air Canada allows it, but a fee applies)
  • Making a change or getting a refund (Delta, WestJet and United allow refunds within a short time frame)
  • Using the overhead bin (Delta, WestJet and Air Canada allow it, but space might be limited. Delta will check your bag at the gate free of charge.)

The experience 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 economy airfares on multiple airlines, but we view Basic Economy as particularly unfriendly to business travel. 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 aware of the limitations. Remember, it is important to listen to your travelers to keep them happy and satisfied in the corporate world of travel.

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 access to relevant airfare content suitable for business travel.

Want to know more specifics around Basic Economy? See chart below on more information around Basic Economy limitations.

Basic Economy graphic

Read more about Basic Economy