Is Basic Economy for the naive?

Old Jul 4, 16, 1:18 am
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Is Basic Economy for the naive?

I have often wondered if Basic Economy is an elusive booking class as I have not seen them on any bookings that I have made. I am not saying that it does not exist but perhaps its one of those hidden gems out there. I would love to hear people get upset when they found out they booked this Basic Economy without seat assignments and can't pay for Comfort+ or First Class etc. So far I have a SJC-YVR-SJC trip, SJC-LAX-SJC trip in September and one in Nov SJC-LAX-SJC to connect with a flight at LAX. All of them are booked in Comfort +.

My question is are you really saving money in Basic Economy with no seat assignment, no possible way to pay for an upgrade to W+ etc. For instance I was booked with my Father in Comfort Plus as part of a Voucher as the original trip that we were delayed on was booked in Comfort Plus and by the time we used the voucher the agent put us in Comfort + going by the original class we were booked in when it was Economy Comfort.

So we booked my Mother in regular Economy and about two weeks later Comfort+ was only a $5 difference. Had we booked in Basic Economy we would all perhaps be stuck in different rows. Luckily the RJ's only have 2x2 seats.

So if Basic Economy was only $10-$20 less I would much rather book into regular Economy and even into Comfort+. On a SJC-LAX-SJC flight the $20 difference between regular Economy and Comfort+ is not that bad. So if paying $175 vs $155 is not bad as sometimes I paid $176 on the same routing in regular Y.

To me it seems like Basic Economy is for the cheapest of the cheapest traveler who does not understand the restrictions and who is not part of FlyerTalk. If a flight from SFO-JFK was $190 in Basic Economy vs $290 in regular Y then of course I would book Basic Economy if my goal was to save $$$ and did not need Comfort Plus. But if Basic Economy was $202 and regular Y was $220 or $250 I would go with the regular Economy and if Comfort Plus was $300 I would consider it or even take the First Class offer.

My point is how do people really decide to book Basic Economy.I'll admit I have never seen this as a fare in my dealings with Delta. I can see Delta offloading this Basic Economy to punish those booking on third party websites and to only let those booking with Delta to get assigned seats, upgrade to Comfort+ and First/Business Class.

Honestly I think it would be great to punish those people using third party websites with a lower booking code, lower MQMs no upgrades etc. Sorry life is not fare if you wanted to pay the extra $$$ to book on Delta then welcome to those benefits for booking direct and with no agent fee using Delta's 1800 number won't cost you a dime. I would love to see airlines charge a booking fee for those using a third party website.

What are your thoughts?
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Old Jul 4, 16, 3:15 am
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Basic Economy is for price-elastic customers who would pick another airline if it were even $5 cheaper.
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Old Jul 4, 16, 5:37 am
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Even though I had YCA fare but since I lost my status with Delta a while back, I got the Basic Economy fare. So it is not what you pay sometimes but also if you do not have status, you may be stuck in the back of the bus.
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Old Jul 4, 16, 6:15 am
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Originally Posted by ACC2008 View Post
Even though I had YCA fare but since I lost my status with Delta a while back, I got the Basic Economy fare. So it is not what you pay sometimes but also if you do not have status, you may be stuck in the back of the bus.
You're confusing bad seat assignments with Basic Economy fares: no upgrades, no changes, no refunds, no advance seat assignments.
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Old Jul 4, 16, 7:19 am
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Basic economy is for people that search on kayak/travelocity/whatever and sort by price.

Helps DL compete with the "low cost" airlines like Spirit, who otherwise would win at the pricing game every time (though they often still do, even if they turn out more costly once you add in all their "fees" for normal things that DL offers for free).

What I don't get is why DL won't let people that purchased E fares pay more after the fact for a seat assignment/upgrade privileges/etc. seems they could price it higher than the next availible fare bucket and make more $$!
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Old Jul 4, 16, 7:46 am
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Originally Posted by Widgets View Post
Basic Economy is for price-elastic customers who would pick another airline if it were even $5 cheaper.
This.

I see E fares quite a bit on my routes, I assume because I'm based in ATL and fly to lots of places where WN, F9, and NK also have service.

There are many people who are unwilling to spend the extra $20 or whatever that OP is, as well as people who will accept any level of limited service to gain any cost savings. Same reason that Motel 6, Travelodge, etc. stay in business.

They're just other options for those who want them - nothing wrong with it. And if you think about it, folks with no status are losing fewer perks when buying an E fare, too, to the value difference is smaller. I do wish people would read the fare description more carefully...
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Old Jul 4, 16, 8:14 am
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Basic economy is a way for Delta to fleece its otherwise loyal customers into paying $30 more to not have to fly Southwest.
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Old Jul 4, 16, 8:20 am
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Originally Posted by gooselee View Post
There are many people who are unwilling to spend the extra $20 or whatever that OP is, as well as people who will accept any level of limited service to gain any cost savings. Same reason that Motel 6, Travelodge, etc. stay in business.

They're just other options for those who want them - nothing wrong with it. And if you think about it, folks with no status are losing fewer perks when buying an E fare, too, to the value difference is smaller. I do wish people would read the fare description more carefully...
"caveat emptor" -- "let the buyer beware"

how do the airlines inform you of the price? in larger bolder more visible typeface, well publicized / marketed / advertised

how do the airlines inform you of the fare details? in tiny typeface, buried in indecipherable incomprehensible travel-expert-speak, in many cases difficult or impossible to locate after purchase

if you make a purchase decision solely on the basis of the price, and don't (or don't take time to, or don't seek assistance to) fully read or understand the details, you really have no one to blame but yourself -- it sure seems that the airlines like it that way, though
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Old Jul 4, 16, 9:01 am
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Originally Posted by jrl767 View Post
"caveat emptor" -- "let the buyer beware"

how do the airlines inform you of the price? in larger bolder more visible typeface, well publicized / marketed / advertised

how do the airlines inform you of the fare details? in tiny typeface, buried in indecipherable incomprehensible travel-expert-speak, in many cases difficult or impossible to locate after purchase

if you make a purchase decision solely on the basis of the price, and don't (or don't take time to, or don't seek assistance to) fully read or understand the details, you really have no one to blame but yourself -- it sure seems that the airlines like it that way, though
Actually, in this case, both Delta and NK are pretty clear about what the E fare or no-frills fare include. Delta makes you click through two disclaimers stating that you understand the limitations of the fare you are buying. Spirit's business model is splashed on the front page of their website-- "No free bag, no free drink".
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Old Jul 4, 16, 9:23 am
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do those disclaimers show up on third-party sites? and if so, how clearly?
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Old Jul 4, 16, 9:39 am
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Originally Posted by Widgets View Post
Basic Economy is for price-elastic customers who would pick another airline if it were even $5 cheaper.
That's true. However, I'd also say any flyer that is price-elastic to that extreme probably is a naive infrequent traveler.

To another of the OP's points: There is no need for airlines to "punish" customers who book on an OTA. The OTA's themselves do a pretty good job of punishing their customers when they want to make a change in their travel plans.
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Old Jul 4, 16, 9:39 am
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Originally Posted by danielonn View Post
To me it seems like Basic Economy is for the cheapest of the cheapest traveler who does not understand the restrictions and who is not part of FlyerTalk
You realize this describes at least 95% of all flyers?
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Old Jul 4, 16, 9:52 am
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Originally Posted by publicmsu View Post
Basic economy is a way for Delta to fleece its otherwise loyal customers into paying $30 more to not have to fly Southwest.
That's a true, if cynical way of putting it. Another way is to say "Delta is worth $30 more than Southwest."

In terms of free seat assignments and better IRROP's handling/less IRROP's, it might be true even for some infrequent flyers.

Nothing prevents an infrequent traveler from looking deeper and comparing seat pitch, seat configuration, IFE or no IFE, and change fees. (I think Southwest doesn't have the last one.)
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Old Jul 4, 16, 10:07 am
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Originally Posted by Bowgie View Post

Nothing prevents an infrequent traveler from looking deeper and comparing seat pitch, seat configuration, IFE or no IFE, and change fees. (I think Southwest doesn't have the last one.)
WN doesn't have change fees, but there are certainly a few times I've had to explain what a fare difference is, and why it must be paid, to friends/colleagues who don't travel often.

Every airline, and every business, will try to highlight the positives of their product and minimize the display of the limitations/negatives.
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Old Jul 4, 16, 11:50 am
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Originally Posted by publicmsu View Post
Basic economy is a way for Delta to fleece its otherwise loyal customers into paying $30 more to not have to fly Southwest.
I'm often paying $30+ *less* not to have to fly Southwest.
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