Delta currently sells basic economy fares. They award full redeemable miles and elite qualifying miles on those fares. But they aren’t eligible for seat assignments, economy comfort, flight upgrades, changes, cancellations, or standby. If you need to make a voluntary change you have to throw away your ticket and start again.
In November, United announced that they will start selling Basic Economy fares in Q1 2017. United added more restrictions to the ones above. Their fares won’t earn elite qualifying miles or lifetime miles. United also won’t allow large carry-ons unless you have elite status, a United credit card, or are traveling with a United elite member or cardholder.
American has announced that they will start selling basic economy fares on 2/10/17. It will be nearly identical to United’s version except that American will award 1/2 of the normal elite qualifying miles and will allow you to pay to choose a seat, but only within 48 hours of your flight.
These fares are intended to allow the network carriers to compete with Allegiant, Frontier, and Spirit. People that want no-frills will be able to fly on a network carrier and still be able to earn miles, have access to roomier seats, free drinks, and more frequent flights in case of irregular operations.
The real question is will they just drive more people to fly on Alaska, JetBlue, Southwest, and Virgin America?
In other news, American took the crown for the worst US airline in the WSJs annual ranking for the 2nd year running:
That’s not much of a surprise. American is notoriously bad at cancelled flights and mishandling luggage, hence our London fiasco. My longest tarmac delays have also all been on American.
Delta runs a very good airline with a subpar mileage program
United runs a mediocre, but improving, airline with a good mileage program.
American runs a subpar airline with a mileage program that could be called a ScAAm these days.
Last year I compiled 23 bullet points asking “What exactly is American’s AAdvantage?” I don’t think the USAirways folks running American could answer that even if they tried.