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Basic economy fares gain traction but amenities will cost

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The major airline carriers are beginning to nip the budget carriers in the butt.

They are introducing basic economy fares in response to the ultra-low cost fares that carriers such as Allegiant, Spirit and Frontier are offering. These carriers offer a seat but little else. They charge extra for everything from carry-on luggage to food and beverage.

United announced fare plans in November to introduce basic economy fare service. The carrier made headlines in becoming the first major U.S. carrier to create a fare class that does not include use of the overhead bin.

Meanwhile, United announced the economy fares would debut on some Minneapolis routes this spring.

American Airlines started selling the budget fares last month and expects to offer the low-end fare on additional routes later this year but has no plans to offer it for all flights.

Like United Airlines, American will restrict purchasers from using the overhead storage bin. It is likely that American will offer the fares on flights where they are in direct competition with its ultra low-cost counterpart.


Economy flyers will be required to fit carry-on items beneath the seat in front of them. They will also be required to pay $25 for the first piece of checked luggage and $35 for the second.

Delta Expects to offer its basic fare on all domestic routes by the middle of this year.

Aside from the baggage rule, purchasers will trade lower costs for seats at the back of the plane, boarding in the last group and with no pre-assigned seats. Seats will only be given at check-in.

American said it would attempt to seat children 13 and younger with an adult, but it is not guaranteeing that families will be able to sit together.


American also will make some exceptions to its basic economy rules.

Specifically, AAdvantage Elite customers and eligible AAdvantage card members will be able to use their priority boarding privilege and take one roll-aboard bag on the plane.

In other words, be prepared to pay for all amenities in exchange for lower advertised fares.


Maryellen Iobst, proprietor of Travel by Iobst in Allentown, has owned and operated several offices the past several decades and was awarded a lifetime membership to the Institute of Certified Travel Agents. She can be reached at 610-391-0000 or maryellen@travelbyiobst.com.


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