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 seat assignments.
Basic Economy fares initially are available to customers traveling between Detroit and Orlando, Fort Myers, Fort 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 also goes for elite frequent flyers, 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 experience."
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 fare.
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 explained."
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 segments." Source: Business Travel News