This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Between tightening its generous change fee policy and slashing its customer-friendly price guarantee, it’s been a big year for Alaska Airlines on the customer experience side. Among the number of updates announced this year was the introduction of a basic economy product. Although it was reported that Alaska Airlines would begin selling basic economy, or Saver Fares as Alaska calls it, in November 2018 for travel beginning in January 2019, the carrier has begun rolling out the new fare class for travel this year.

Saver fares can now be booked for travel between San Diego (SAN) and Baltimore (BWI), Salt Lake City (SLC) and Puerto Vallarta (PVR). Right now, the new fares are only being offered for travel between December 6-16, but it’s a safe bet to assume they’ll be loaded into the rest of the calendar soon. Saver fares appear to be between $15-$30 lower than standard economy, each way, though that gap will likely increase as longer and more expensive routes are added.

Keeping in line with Delta and American Airlines, Alaska’s basic economy allows passengers to bring both a carry-on bag and a personal item. But unlike other basic economy fares out there, Alaska’s also allows passengers to select some seats at time of booking and buy up to a better class if they so please. Regardless of status level, it seems that the only seats saver passengers can select without upgrading are in the very back of the plane. If none are left then a seat will be assigned at check-in.

Other drawbacks of the new fare include no changes (including same-day changes) and no standing by for earlier or later flights — regardless of your status level. Elites won’t be eligible for complimentary upgrades, but they’ll still get early boarding and two free checked bags. Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card holders also get one checked bag for free. On the bright side, Mileage Plan members will continue to earn award and elite-qualifying miles based on the number of miles flown (rather than amount spent).

These new fares use the “X” booking code, so if you want all the benefits of a regular economy fare, “X” is the one to avoid. Alaska does a great job of indicating saver fares on its website, though that may not always be the case when booking through online travel agencies.

Alaska’s Chief Commercial Officer, Andrew Harrison, told investors in April that the new Saver Fare is expected to add $100 million in annual revenue in 2019. The airline also estimates another $50 million to come in from ancillary fees, elimination of fee waivers and other pricing shifts.

The inclusion of Alaska and soon-to-be JetBlue leaves Southwest as the only major US carrier not to offer a saver fare option.

H/T: Cranky Flier.

Featured photo by Nick Ellis / The Points Guy.

Know before you go.

News and deals straight to your inbox every day.

2018 TPG Award Winner: Mid-Tier Card of the Year
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.