Basic Economy has been expanding rapidly over the past few years as airlines try to compete with the ultra-low-cost carriers. Below are the fees and restrictions associated with the lowest economy booking for several different airlines.
Domestic Basic Economy
Carry On Fee Checked Fee Advanced Seat Selection Ticket Change Fee Credit Card Perks American Free $25 Not Allowed Not Allowed Free Checked bag; Group 5 Boarding Alaska Free $25 Free Not Allowed Free checked bag Delta Free $25 Not Allowed Not Allowed Free Checked bag; Group 1 Boarding Frontier $35 $30 $11 $99 plus fare difference Zone 2 Boarding JetBlue Free $25 Free $75 (plus fare difference) Free checked bag Spirit $35 $30 $22 $90 Preferred Boarding Southwest Free Free (2 bags) Open-Seating Free (fare difference) 4 Priority Boarding Vouchers (SW Priority Card) United Not Allowed $25 $10 Not allowed. Free Checked bag; Group 2 Boarding (can bring carry on)
Notes: Seat selection fees vary based on routes, so I averaged the fees on a few different bookings. Frontier’s bag fees are discounted by $5 for 2.5 months out of the year ($30 for a carry-on bag and $25 for a checked bag). To use the credit card perks on United, you must buy your ticket with the United card. You can still cancel your flight for a basic economy fare if it is within 24 hours of booking and at least 7 days in advance of departure.
International Basic Economy
Carry On Fee Checked Fee Advanced Seat Selection Free Food and Drinks American Free $60 $12 Yes British Airways Free $55 $36+ Yes Delta Free Free Not Allowed Yes Icelandair Free $55+ Free No (free soft drinks and coffee) LEVEL Free $44 $17 No Norwegian Free $45 $30 No Primera Free $45 $40 No United Free Free Free Yes WOW $50 $70 $10 No
- Both WOW and Icelandair charge bag fees by segment, so you may be paying a much higher price for your bag.
- Delta charges $25 for a checked bag to Mexico, Caribbean, and Central America.
- Delta and American only have basic economy on transatlantic routes, not transpacific.