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At the beginning of March British Airways and its transatlantic alliance partners announced that they would be introducing Basic Economy fares on routes between Europe and the US. A few days later it became clear that British Airways would also start offer these fares on other parts of its network and now, a little over month later, these fares are finally bookable.
What Are Basic Economy Fares?
I’ve already written in detail about what these fares will offer but, as a recap, here’s what passengers can expect when booking British Airways Basic Economy fares:
- No checked baggage allowance (even for elites)
- Allocated seating only when check-in opens (elites keep their seat selection privileges)
- No refunds
- Boarding in the final boarding group (i.e where overheard bins are already full) unless you have elite status.
- No change in tier point earnings
- No change in Avios earnings
- Elites keep premium check-in and lounge privileges
Which Routes Currently Offer Basic Economy Fares?
Eventually British Airways (and its partners) will roll out Basic Economy fares across all routes but, for now, these are the routes on which you can book Basic Economy long-haul fares.
For fares originating in the UK/EU:
- Hong Kong
- Punta Cana (Dom.Rep.)
- Dallas Ft. Worth
- Helsinki to New York
- France to USA/Canada
- Italy to USA/Canada
- Netherlands to USA/Canada
- Malta to USA/Canada
For fares originating in the US:
- Boston – London
- Boston – Madrid
- Chicago – Madrid
- Dallas Ft. Worth – London
- Dallas Ft. Worth – Madrid
- New York – Helsinki
- Oakland – London
- Philadelphia – London
- Phoenix – London
Image – British Airways
What Are The Fares Like?
British Airways says that the fares will cost “up to £60 less than the standard return fare” and start from £143 each way based on a roundtrip fare.
Examples of one-way fares (based on a roundtrip fare) provided by the airline for travel from London include:
- Austin from £246
- Boston from £175
- Delhi from £210
- Denver from £191
- Dubai from £143
- Hong Kong from £228
- Oakland from £185
- Philadelphia from £234
- Punta Cana from £240
- Singapore from £230
I can’t say I’m impressed.
I’ve booked roundtrip Standard Economy Class fares between London and Los Angeles for less than the price being quoted for Basic Economy to Austin and I’ve seen Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific sale fares that are cheaper than the prices quoted for Hong Kong and Singapore….and Singapore Airlines Economy class is a LOT better than what you’ll find on board BA.
Things BA Would Like You To Keep In Mind
- British Airways’ hand baggage allowance is one handbag/laptop bag (max. 23kg / 51lb and up to 40 x 30 x 15cm / 16 x 12 x 6in) plus one additional cabin bag (max. 23kg / 51lb and up to 56 x 45 x 25cm / 22 x 18 x 10in)
- Changes to the booking can be made for a fee, plus any difference in fare
- Basic fares can be combined with other fare types e.g. basic fare outbound and a standard fare return
- British Airways will endeavour to seat families together several days ahead of travel, however they may be split across aisles or rows. Children under 12 will always be seated with an adult on the same booking
The fares being quoted by BA just reinforce the general feeling that the introduction of Basic Economy fares is less to do with “providing value and choice” and more to do with nickel-and-diming passengers to try to boost the airline’s bottom line.
If this was a real effort to bring prices down (which we all know it never was) the savings would be better than £60 on a roundtrip fare.
Some of the cheaper fares may be attractive to those who may otherwise consider booking with the likes of Norwegian because these fares still offer Avios and Tier Point earnings and you still get food and drink onboard (with Norwegian they’re extra)….but there aren’t exactly great saving to be made here.
An interesting thing to look out for will be how American Airlines chooses to price it’s transatlantic Basic Economy fares. Presumably the BA and AA fares will have to be pretty similar but American Airlines elites have a lot more to lose by booking American’s Basic Economy fares than their counterparts over at the BAEC.
As well as the losses BA elite will face, American Airlines elites will see reduced elite status earnings and will have no chance of upgrades when they book Basic Economy TATL fares and that’s a lot to give up if the savings are only going to be £60/$84 for a roundtrip fare.
Would I give up that much for $84? Not in a million years 🙂