Avianca will introduce basic economy in North America

Feb 26, 2020

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. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

North America is about to get one more airline that sells basic economy tickets to destinations abroad.

On Wednesday, March 4, Avianca will introduce “branded fares” on its flights to the U.S and Canada.

The Bogota-based Star Alliance carrier first introduced basic economy tickets on flights within Ecuador in September 2019, and expanded the offerings to its flights in Colombia in October 2019. European flights were added earlier this month, and Mexico, Central America and Avianca’s other South American markets will see the new fare structure beginning April 15.

Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more airline news.

The fares are branded as “XS” — as in “extra small” — through “XXL,” and will be more inclusive the “larger” they get. Like many other basic economy options, Avianca’s most restrictive will prohibit checked baggage and seat pre-selection. No matter the fare class, Avianca said the onboard service will remain the same for all passengers.

In 2012, Delta Air Lines was the first U.S. carrier to introduce a basic economy fare, and other major carriers including American and United followed suit in the years after as the legacy airlines tried to compete more directly on price with discount carriers like Spirit.

Those restrictive cheap tickets were first available on domestic flights, but most airlines have since expanded the offerings to cover the majority of their routes.

Michael Swiatek, Avianca’s chief planning officer, said branded fares give passengers more flexibility by allowing those who don’t care about checking a bag or selecting their seat in advance to travel for less money.

He also acknowledged at an event in New York celebrating the airline’s 100th anniversary that basic economy fares give Avianca another way to respond to discount airlines in competitive markets.

For example, Spirit Airlines has been growing its network between the U.S. and Latin America. Swiatek said Avianca doesn’t plan to follow Spirit into every new city it’s adding, but the basic economy fares allow Avianca to defend its turf against the discounter on routes where the two airlines compete directly.

Related: Spirit Airlines grows in Florida, serving more Latin American destinations

“We have to be careful of overexposing ourselves on point-to-point,” Swiatek said, explaining that Avianca remains generally committed to the hub-and-spoke model, and doesn’t plan to change that in the foreseeable future.

As the airline looks to overhaul itself in the coming year, other changes will be coming to Avianca. For the North American market, the two most notable are the airline’s plans to start service between Bogota and Toronto or Montreal, pending regulatory approval. And, Avianca’s three daily flights from New York-JFK to Bogota will all be operated by widebodies beginning March 29.

Currently, the airline serves the route with a mix of widebody and narrowbody aircraft, so the move will be an upgrade — especially for premium passengers, who will benefit from more predictable, lie-flat service on every flight.

Featured photo courtesy of Avianca.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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.