Basic Economy Spreading Like the Plague

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Virgin Atlantic Economy Light

Basic Economy Spreading Like the Plague

Virgin Atlantic has become the latest airline to jump on the Basic Economy bandwagon. The British carrier announced on Wednesday that it will soon begin offering three types of economy fares, each coming with a different set of perks, or lack thereof. At the lower end of the spectrum will be Virgin Atlantic Economy Light, its version of Basic Economy. The move will offer cheaper tickets but also for the first time in 34 years, some Virgin Atlantic fares will not include a checked bag or seat assignment.

The new Virgin Atlantic Economy Light is a push back against expanding ultra low cost airlines and a way to harmonize its offerings with partner Delta.

New Virgin Atlantic Fares

Come Spring 2019, Virgin Atlantic will offer three different fares in Economy class, besides its Premium Economy seats that will be called simply “Premium.”

Economy Light

These will be the cheapest economy fares similar to Basic Economy fares now in place at the three big U.S. airlines. Economy Light fares will not have advance seat assignment and they’ll be slotted into seats with the least amount of legroom. Checked luggage will not be included in the price of the ticker, but can be purchased separately. Economy Light passengers will at least continue to receive meal and drink selections.

Economy Classic

One step above we have Economy Classic. It includes the basics you would expect to come alone with a plane ticket. Ability to select a seat and sit close to family and friends in your group, and checked luggage of up to 50lbs. Economy Classic passengers will still be restricted to Virgin Atlantic’s tighter seats that have a 31” seat pitch.

Economy Delight

This will be the most expensive new offering. It comes with the “perks” of Economy Class but customers will also be able to choose Virgin Atlantic’s roomiest coach seats. This will make a difference as you can have 3 extra inches of legroom at a pitch of 34″. These tickets will also include priority check-in and boarding.


We have seen these Basic Economy or Economy Light fares appear on many airlines now. Clearly there’s a market for these types of fares. If you’re traveling alone and have no luggage then you might want the option to pay less. On the other side we are seeing major airlines watering down their product in an attempt to compete with budget airlines such as WOW or Norwegian. And probably the worst part of these new luggage-less fares is the fact that many casual flyers don’t really know what they’re buying. Many might be tricked by the lower price but end up paying more if they’re looking to sit together or check in a bag.

What’s your opinion on Basic Economy fares?

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  1. The reality is that most people always look for the cheapest flight on Priceline or Orbitz and then complain when they don’t get all the perks. Perfect example, everyone wants more legroom but no one is willing to pay the money for the seats with the extra legroom.

    I personally have no problem with basic economy fares, we can’t help it if too many stupid people can’t figure out what is and isn’t included in a basic economy fare. It very clearly describes them on the airline website and on priceline and orbitz. They also stopped reaching basic arithmetic in schools around 15 years ago by making every kid get a calculator (thank you Texas Instruments) so yes, there is a good segment of the population which can’t figure out how to add the bag fees and seat assignments on to the fare price.


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