Senate Report Finds "Basic Economy" Airfares Could Cost Consumers More

January 26, 2018

WASHINGTON - A report released today by U.S. Sen Bill Nelson (D-FL) found that in recent years the three largest U.S. airlines – American, Delta and United – have all begun offering so-called “basic economy fares” that lead consumers into believing they are getting the cheapest fare available – but, according to the report, these fares may end up costing consumers more.  

That’s because the new basic economy fares come with a variety of restrictions, including preventing consumers from cancelling or changing their ticket, getting a seat assignment or bringing carry-on luggage on board.  While the airlines have presented these new fares as a lower-cost alternative to their customers, the report found that they aren’t actually any cheaper than the fares these same airlines used to charge passengers without all the restrictions. In other words, consumers are now being forced to pay the same price for a stripped-down product – or pay more to receive basic benefits that were previously included for the same price.

“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,"  said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee which oversees the airline industry.  "The  airlines need to play it straight and let consumers know upfront what they’re really getting.”

To view the report, click here.

To watch an NBC Nightly News segment on the report, click here.