American Airlines announced last week that the rollout of its “basic economy” fares will debut in early 2017, instead of originally planned, in late 2016. And while the airline has said it's decided to delay the debut until 2017 so as not to disrupt holiday travel, others have suggested that the airline may be buying itself more time while thenew rules surrounding competitive pricing are put into action.
American is not alone. United is also set to introduce its equivalent class next year,according to Skift’s Brian Sumers, and Delta rolled out its own “basic economy” pricing in 2012. While the specifics vary by airlines, these “basic economy” ratesoffer a simple trade-off: cheaper airfare (priced to be competitive with low-cost carriers) in exchange for fewer amenities and more restrictions. Delta’s, for example, doesn’t allow for ticket changes, seats aren’t assigned until after check-in, and frequent-flier benefits are limited. On the plus side, however, basic-economy travelers still have access to Wi-Fi, onboard entertainment, and—yes—snacks. Thus far, the fare class has proved a popular option with U.S. fliers, just as low-cost, low-thrill airfare has in Europe, where it took off with easyJet and Ryanair.
by Zach Everson