Basic Economy Comparison Chart for major North American carriers

by Anshul
a row of blue seats in an airplane

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Now that major Canadian airlines (Air Canada and WestJet) have joined the basic economy bandwagon, I thought it would be best to put them in a comparison chart with the other major US carriers. My basic economy comparison chart serves to be a one-stop resource for folks that want to compare their plight if they choose these fares 😉

My thoughts on basic economy fares are simple, I don’t mind them on short haul rides (1-2 hour flight time). On longer flights, if I have to fly economy, am happy to spend a few more bucks to fly regular economy with hopes of an upgrade or at the very least pick an exit row seat (poor man’s business class).

Basic Economy Comparison Chart

**scroll hotizontally to view complete chart**

[table id=62 /]

A quick glance at the comparison tells me that Air Canada and WestJet are almost identical in their restrictions. Among US carriers, Delta is a better option (in this race to the bottom) since they allow a  regular sized carry-on bag and let us choose our own seats at check-in.

Although basic economy fares are not for everyone, they are worth a consideration on short haul flights or regional jets that offer a 2-2 configuration in economy (no risk of being in a middle seat). Its best to calculate the fare difference between basic economy and the next fare bucket up.

As a Canadian resident, I am following the development of Basic Economy fares in Canada closely. While they have been introduced on select routes for now, expanding these fares across the network is always a dreaded possibility, in the future.

Drop me a line if you find any mistakes in the chart above, happy to update – cheers!


Kerry March 5, 2018 - 7:03 pm

In my home airport, I can’t choose my seats at check-in with Delta;s basic economy. They are assigned at the gate. This morning AT LEAST HALF the passengers were called up to the desk at the gate as the agent booked seats for 2 or 3 at a time. The result of that was that we boarded really late, then had another little electrical issue after we were all finally onboard, and got off the gate very late, to go be de-iced. I’m sure the other flights (3 in a row out of HLN starting at 5:45 am) were late also. I’ve tried to book on-line at check in and it isn’t possible. Maybe Delta will stop this annoying practice when their “on time departure” record sinks out of sight.

cx882 March 5, 2018 - 12:26 am

– I believe both American and United allow free cancellation within 24 hours for basic economy. This is required by US law (with some conditions).
– It’s probably worth noting that with American, you earn 50% elite qualifying segments, etc.

Points Miles and Bling March 5, 2018 - 8:19 pm

I left the 24 hr period out since American and United don’t explicitly mention that for basic economy fares –
Updated EQM/EQS info, thanks!

DJ Owens March 4, 2018 - 12:27 pm

I can’t read the entire chart article because an annoying Air Canada google ad pops-up over the content! Otherwise – good information!

Points Miles and Bling March 4, 2018 - 12:44 pm

Hey DJ, sorry for the pesky ad pop up. Seems specific to your exp, I cant replicate it at my end. Usually there is a ‘x’ on top right of any ad to close it. Can you go back and check if that helps? Are you reading on mobile or desktop?
Either way, Thanks for letting me know – always good to know what readers see at their end.

Mike B March 4, 2018 - 1:28 pm

I also can’t see the rightmost part of the table. It’s nit just advertisements blocking the view, there is a column with “recent posts” and “our bloggers” with an ad or two in between that blocks the view.

Points Miles and Bling March 4, 2018 - 1:35 pm

Added the horizontal scroll feature, should be good now. Please confirm. Thanks for the heads up guys, much appreciated!


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