It gets worse. Airlines have been adding tiers to classes over the last years to further spread out buying options for customers. There’s still the base coach or economy grade and the top first class, but we’ve seen the likes of business and economy plus added in to allow for more perks at a higher price.
The bottom of the rung, though, remained unmoved. Coach was coach, and that was that.
Not any more. Delta was the first to introduce it, and now United and American have announced that it’s coming. This is basic economy, or, as the write-up in The Economist quips, “last class.”
The airlines have added a class that essentially does what some budget ticket sites like CheapOAir have already done. You can buy a ticket, but the actual seat selection and preferences are all left up to the airline. You might be sitting in the middle seat in the very last row without the option to lean back.
You won’t be able to sit with friends or family, and you lose the ability to upgrade your seats should the option be available a day before the flight.
Welcome to basic economy.
The Economist notes that critics of the new class offer that Delta, United and American are trying to force their base customers to cough up more cash in order to have some seat preference. The airlines say they’re just trying to add an extra layer of flexibility to ticket buying. I’ll leave the parsing out up to you.
I know I wouldn’t be able to deal with bad seats for a cross country flight. No thanks, basic economy.