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‘Basic economy’ airfare costs more for less, Bill Nelson says

That cheap-o plane ticket might be costing travellers more than they realize once add-ons are factored in according to a new report released by U.S. Sen Bill Nelson, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee.

“While these basic economy fares may seem to the average traveler to be a good deal, in reality they may end up costing you more. The airlines need to play it straight and let consumers know upfront what they’re really getting,” Nelson said.

The report shows major airlines have cut the fares by removing some of the most basic amenities, and when they’re added back into the mix consumers might as well have sprung for more expensive tix.

Of course, those who snagged a good deal expect to board the plane last, and most have grown accustomed to not getting a checked bag for free, but American, Delta and United also don’t allow flight changes, seat changes, or cancellations – of the three, only American allows families to get seats together or individual flyers to pick their seat, but they tack on a fee for the privilege.

Likewise, Delta is the only one of the three majors to include a carry-on in their no-frills fares.

That all boils down to consumers being forced to pay the same price for a stripped-down product – or pay more to receive the same basic benefits that were previously included for the same price, the report said.

A consumer, without an elite-level airline status or credit card that offers travel benefits, who purchases a “basic economy fare” for domestic travel will face the following restrictions:

Chart: Basic Economy Restrictions

Written By

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

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