Delta Air Lines last week added a new bottom rung to its
fare ladder with the launch of Basic Economy, which comprises the carrier's
"lowest-priced fares" and does not allow refunds, changes or advance
Basic Economy fares initially are available to customers
traveling between Detroit and Orlando, Ft. Myers, Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa, but
"may be expanded to other markets in the future as determined by Delta,"
the carrier noted on its website.
The main difference between Basic Economy and other
advance-purchase, nonrefundable economy fares is that ticketholders cannot
select their own seats. Instead, Delta indicated that seats "will be
auto-assigned for Basic Economy fare holders during check in." That goes
for elite frequent flyers as well, according to Delta, which called the fare
"ideal for travelers who seek the lowest fare option, do not intend to
make changes and do not consider seat choice an important part of their travel
The new fare is available through GDS channels and Delta
noted that they likely would land at the top of fare search results, especially
for travel agencies and self-booking tools that default to the lowest available
Delta would not disclose the average cost difference between
Basic Economy and the next step up on the ladder.
While its price may be appealing to cost-sensitive
travelers, the fare requires some new disclosures to would-be buyers, given its
restrictions. Delta on its website for travel agents noted, "If the Basic
Economy fare is selected, the customer must be notified of all the fare rules.
In addition, expectations of the travel experience must be clearly
For Basic Economy ticketholders, add-on amenities are to be
found only through the carrier's direct channels and for a discrete fee, Delta
noted. Its new "Trip Extras," for example, is a suite of services that
includes priority boarding in certain markets, frequent flyer mile bundles and
inflight Wi-Fi access. Additionally, Basic Economy ticketholders "may
purchase any available Preferred Seat," but only at check-in, Delta noted.
Delta added that the new fare class would be identifiable to
agencies "with an E as the first letter of the fare
basis code or E class of service in schedules and availability displays."
The fares are not combinable with other fares, Delta noted,
claiming an "itinerary must be all E class segments or no E class