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**

 DeltaAmerican UnitedAir CanadaWestJet
Changes/CancelationsNo flight changes, no cancellations.No flight changes, no cancellations.No flight changes, no cancellations.No flight changes, no cancellations.No flight changes, no cancellations
RefundsNo 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 AllowanceOne 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 SelectionNo 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 - $100 CAD
No option to pre-select seats. Auto assigned at check-in.
Miles EarnedYesYesYesNo Aeroplan MilesWill not earn WestJet dollars
Earning Elite Miles/$YesYes (earned at a reduced rate of 0.5 per mile/flight segment flown)NoNo Altitude Qualifying MilesNot eligible towards qualifying flight spend
UpgradeNo AccessNo AccessNo AccessNo accessNo 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!