Airfare 101 business woman works on her laptop during a flight

Published on March 21st, 2018 | by Emese Graham


Business Travel Tips: Basic Economy Fares 101

To compete with Ultra-Low-Cost-Carriers (ULCCs), many major domestic and international airlines have introduced basic economy fares on select domestic and international routes. Basic economy fares provide more options for budget-conscious travellers, but they’re not the right fit for everyone.

If you’re interested in saving money on your company’s business travel expenses (and who wouldn’t be?), there are a number of limitations and considerations you should be aware of before you consider booking a basic economy flight for your next business trip.

What are Basic Economy Fares?

While cutting costs is the obvious advantage of this restricted airfare, it should be noted that complimentary options found with standard economy would be an additional cost with basic economy. Coupled with the last-minute changes and cancellations that can occur with regular travel, a basic economy flight could end up being more expensive for your business compared to a standard or premium economy fare.

Entrepreneurs and travel managers for small to medium businesses should be well-informed about the inflexibility and restrictions of basic economy fares.

How Does Basic Economy Differ from Standard Economy?


It’s just one tier below Standard Economy, what’s the big deal? To help you make an informed decision, here is a list of the main limitations of Basic Economy fares across most airlines. 

  •  Flight changes are not permitted. 
  •  Cancellations are not permitted. If your travel plans change, there is no refund or credit value.
  •  Upgrades are not applicable.
  •  Same-day airport changes are not possible.
  •  Advance seat selection may not be possible or may be subject to a higher fee, depending on the route.
  •  Zero or reduced eligibility for reward miles or frequent flyer points.
  •  Access to Maple Leaf Lounge or other airport lounges is not included with fare and not available for purchase.
  •  Basic Economy ticket-holders are the last to board. Among the disadvantages of this would be no remaining overhead bin space, in which case you would be required to check your carry-on luggage.
  •  Full-sized carry-on luggage is not permitted on select routes.
  •  Checked luggage may be subject to a higher fee compared to standard economy fares.  

While budget considerations are important, when these important factors are highlighted, the basic economy fare may not be a suitable choice for your business trip.

Is Basic Economy the Right Choice for Your Business Trip?

The answer is YES if:

  • You’re certain that no flight changes or cancellations would need to be made
  • Your schedule allows for extra time to wait for checked luggage (even if you’ve only packed a carry-on. See above)
  • You do not require extra time to board
  • You do not have a seat preference
  • You do not collect reward miles or frequent flyer points
  • You can conduct your business effectively (or simply relax) in general airport seating
  • You are prepared to pay an additional fee for in-flight meals, or you plan to pack your own food

The answer is NO if:

  • There is a chance you may need to change or cancel your flight
  • You want an efficient travelling experience so you can make the most of your business trip
  • You require priority boarding
  • You want to select your seat in advance
  • You wish to access the Maple Leaf Lounge or other airport lounges
  • You collect reward miles or frequent flyer points
  • You travel only with a carry-on and you do not want to spend time waiting for your luggage at the baggage carousel OR You travel with checked luggage and do not want to pay an additional fee.

You don’t have to sacrifice time, convenience, and comfort to get the best value for your business travel. You deserve better. FCBT offers guaranteed maximum travel savings along with 24/7 travel support, a transparent fee structure, and exclusive perks thanks to our global buying power. 

At FCBT, your dedicated travel manager will always recommend the best product for your business. Call 1 866 940 0217 today for a free consultation.

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About the Author

Emese is an SEO Content Specialist at Flight Centre in Toronto. She's a huge fan of laidback, stress-free travel and enjoys tasting as much of the world's cuisine as she can.

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