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At the beginning of the year, Alaska Airlines announced that it was jumping on the basic economy bandwagon, planning to launch its own product by the end of the year. While launch details were pretty scarce as far as what Alaska’s basic economy fare would entail, now we know more about what travelers can expect.
As SF Gate reports, Alaska’s detailed what its Saver Fares will look like. One of the most detested aspects of basic economy is the lack of a carry-on bag — at least for United. Good news: Alaska’s basic economy will allow passengers to bring both a carry-on bag and a personal item. While Delta has always had that baggage policy in place for BE ticket holders, American recently announced it would also start allowing BE passengers a carryon bag. On the other side, in the carrier’s Q3 earnings call, United’s Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Nocella said United has no plans to change its BE policy, which restricts BE passengers to only a personal item.
Unlike other basic economy fares out there, Alaska’s will also allow passengers to buy up to Premium Class or a better class if they so please — a feature that’s expected to roll out in Q1 2019. Delta, American and United don’t allow BE passengers to buy up. In addition, Alaska’s going to allow its Mileage Plan members to earn elite-qualifying miles as part of its BE fare — a positive for those looking to pursue elite status.
Keep in mind that while many of these are great for passengers, as like all basic economy fares, there are some drawbacks. For example, BE passengers won’t be able to make same-day changes, and there will be no standing by for earlier or later flights. Not even elite members will be able to bypass this policy. In addition, all seats will be assigned at check-in — not when purchasing a ticket.
Basic economy passengers with Alaska will also board last, meaning overhead bin space could be limited. However, Mileage Plan elite members are exempt from this restriction and can board with their applicable group. Elites will also want to know that they won’t be eligible for complimentary upgrades, and no shows will be required to forfeit their itinerary.
Alaska is reportedly telling travel agents that it plans to begin selling the Saver Fares in November 2018 for travel beginning in January 2019. As the carrier slowly rolls out the new fare class, the airline is telling travel agents that first flights with a Saver Fares option might begin as early as December.
In September, JetBlue announced it would soon be adding its version of basic economy. With the inclusion of Alaska and JetBlue as airlines that offer a BE product, now all major US carriers with the exception of Southwest offer a saver fare option.
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