The major airlines’ basic economy fares, which offer rock-bottom prices with a lot of restrictions, are spreading to international markets.
After American last week said it would start selling basic economy tickets for flights to Europe, starting in April, Delta said it is also expanding its basic economy on U.S.-Mexico flights. The carrier says it is already selling the cut-rate tickets on half of its flights between the countries, and will now expand it to more flights to Mexico City, Guadalajara, as well as leisure destinations like Cancun and Puerto Vallarta.
The move is timed to coincide with a similar move by Delta's joint venture partner Aeromexico.
Delta is already selling these fares on over 50 percent of its flights to Canada and Europe, also to stay consistent with its partners Air France-KLM and Alitalia, which have come out with their own me-too versions.
As with the domestic version of these fares, basic economy customers cannot reserve a seat in advance or make ticket changes. They will also have to pay a fee for checking a bag, although they can bring a carry-on without charge. In addition, making any changes to a basic economy ticket is extremely difficult once it is issued, even for a fee.
While the airlines have touted the low fares as customer-friendly and a way to even the playing field with budget carriers like Spirit, this new breed of air fare has not gone over so well with travel agents or with many of their clients. Some agents have reported that consumers do not fully understand the drawbacks of these fares until they arrive at the airport — and they are concerned to the point that a number of agencies are reportedly blocking these fares on their GDSs.