Airlines’ Bare-Bones ‘Basic Economy’ Fares Could Mean New Headaches for Travel Agents
American and United recently joined Delta in rolling out a rock-bottom “Basic Economy” fare product — similar to the Spirit Airlines pricing model — in dozens of new markets. And while the airlines have claimed publicly that the introduction is going well, early tests of the fares have revealed drawbacks, especially for travel sellers.
Among other things, agents could be put in the uncomfortable position of having to explain a product that’s at odds with what most consumers expect from a traditional airline.
“Basic Economy fares take the lowest fare being offered by an airline, and work to give customers less,” travel expert Gary Leff recently wrote on his blog.
Terry Regan, owner of Berkeley’s Northside Travel, in Berkeley, CA, agrees. “It’s the lowest fare but with fewer amenities than what you got for the lowest fare in the past. That means your customer will be in for a great surprise when they go to the airport. And you do not want the customer to be surprised when they go to the airport.”