Basic economy is the new lowest class you can fly

Sarah Carty

Flying economy may be the pits for many people but now a few airlines have decided to introduce even cheaper fares - called ‘Basic Economy’ class.

If you’re the type of person who prefers comfort over price, then you might want to give this fare a skip because it strips people from being able to upgrade, board the plane first and in some cases limits access to the overhead bins.

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United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta have all rolled out the ‘Basic Economy’ option, which is said to be about $20 cheaper than other fares - but it doesn’t come without any catches.

Here's everything you need to know about 'Basic Economy' fares. Photo: Getty Images

According to Bloomberg, the lower class is actually persuading people to pay more money to travel in economy class and upgrade to the higher level fare.

They report that half of peoples who flew with American Airlines decided to trade up from the basic fare and 60-70 per cent of customers paid more on United to upgrade.

The fare may be less expensive than others however many consumers are not impressed with the terms and conditions attached.

United have explained that the airline’s “Basic Economy” option includes a lot of the same things a "United Economy" ticket does, including "Wi-Fi and inflight entertainment,” however flyers who opt for the cheaper fair will lose the privilege of picking their seats and must board the plane last.

“You’re allowed to bring a small personal item on board, such as a shoulder bag, backpack, laptop bag or other small item that is 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches (22 cm x 25 cm x 43 cm) or less,” the website states.

With some airlines you won't have access to the overhead bins. Photo: Getty Images

“Full-size carry-on bags are not allowed unless you’re a Premier member, a primary card member of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card, or a Star Alliance Gold member.”

Passengers will essentially only be allowed to bring a small bag, which fits comfortably under the seat in front of them.

With Delta’s basic option, there’s the chance that families and passengers travelling together may not be seated right beside each other.

Flyers also aren’t eligible ticket cancelations after the Risk Free Cancelation Period or for paid or complimentary upgrades.

American Airlines claims on their website that they don’t give passengers access to the overhead bins when they purchase a basic fare.

You're also not eligible for upgrades and in some cases no refunds are allowed. Photo: Getty Images

Their seat will only be assigned at check-in and there will be a fee if they want to choose a specific seat.

The airlines aren’t the first carrier to think up innovative ways of offering cheaper flights to customers.

In July 2010, Ryanair introduced plans to charge passengers for standing-room-only seats, however it never came to fruition.

They also proposed a plan to charge overweight passengers more to fly on their planes however it was decided the process would cause too many delays.

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