Ultra-low fares, once unique to low-cost carriers, are starting to creep into legacy carriers’ offerings.
American Airlines and United have announced they will be launching “basic economy” class later this year. Full details on the new fare class have not been revealed yet but the airline’s president Scott Kirby has confirmed that the product will be “competitive on price with ultra-low-cost carriers” and feature “less frills” than those available in standard economy.
This follows the launch of Delta Air Lines’ basic economy back in 2012. Priced significantly lower than standard coach fares, Delta’s offering comes with reduced flexibility and limited frills, including lack of advance seat assignments, a no-refund policy and no upgrade privileges.
Other possible changes that American and United may institute include reducing the seat pitch to cram in more capacity in coach, charging customers for meals and entertainment, and also restricting checked baggage.
“Over time, we’d like to give customers greater ability to choose fares that offer a varied set of amenities, whether they be fares that include multiple options or deeply discounted fares that would simply include the ticket,” said United spokesman Jonathan Guerin to Fortune.
“This would better permit our customers to choose their own mix of fares and frills and better enable us to compete with carriers that offer no-frills service.”