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**
|Changes/Cancelations||No flight changes, no cancellations.||No flight changes, no cancellations.||No flight changes, no cancellations.||No flight changes, no cancellations.||No flight changes, no cancellations|
|Refunds||No refund after 24 hours.||No refunds.||No refunds.||No refund after 24 hours, no credit for future travel.||Not Eligible for refunds, no credit for future travel.|
|Baggage Allowance||One piece of carry-on and a personal item.||1 item that fits under the seat in front of you (no access to overhead bins)||One personal item, except for Elite members.||One piece of carry-on and a personal item.|
1st bag: $25 CAD,
2nd bag: $35 CAD
|One piece of carry-on and a personal item.
1st bag: $25 CAD
2nd bag: $35 CAD
|Seat Selection||No advanced seat assignment. Choose your seat at check-in.||Seats assigned at check-in. Fees to choose a specific seat.||Seats assigned at check-in. Advance seat selection for purchase.||Paid Advance Seat Selection|
$20 - $100 CAD
|No option to pre-select seats. Auto assigned at check-in.|
|Miles Earned||Yes||Yes||Yes||No Aeroplan Miles||Will not earn WestJet dollars|
|Earning Elite Miles/$||Yes||Yes (earned at a reduced rate of 0.5 per mile/flight segment flown)||No||No Altitude Qualifying Miles||Not eligible towards qualifying flight spend|
|Upgrade||No Access||No Access||No Access||No access||No access|
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!