When booking flights around the United States, you’ll probably notice that the major US airlines now offer “Basic Economy” fares. Basic Economy tickets are a relatively new concept and are designed to help the likes of American Airlines, Delta and United to compete better against ultra-low-cost carriers on price.
Basic Economy tickets are generally the cheapest option on US domestic flights. But they do come with various restrictions that make them unattractive. With American Airlines Basic Economy, for example, you’ll be the last to board, can’t choose a seat in advance, can’t make changes to the booking and are ineligible to upgrade. If you have elite status with American Airlines AAdvantage or a partner airline, such as Qantas, you do still get to use priority boarding and get a free checked bag – but that’s all.
If you’re a Qantas Frequent Flyer member, there’s another restriction of American Airlines Basic Economy to be aware of… these fares do not earn any Qantas points or status credits! American Airlines Basic Economy books into the “B” fare class. According to the Qantas Frequent Flyer airline earning tables, “B” class on American Airlines is not eligible to earn anything.
Are you flying Basic Economy on American Airlines? You can still credit the flight to the American Airlines AAdvantage, British Airways Executive Club, Iberia Plus or Finnair Plus programs and earn some miles – albeit at a reduced rate.
American Airlines doesn’t offer Basic Economy on flights to Australia. But the product is sold on flights within North and Central America, as well as between the United States and Europe.
This is not the only case where you won’t earn any Qantas points or status credits for a flight on a partner airline. Qantas points can only be earned when flying in an eligible fare class, which often catches out frequent flyers when travelling with Cathay Pacific or Qatar Airways. The same is also true in reverse; for example, discounted Qantas Economy fares booked in “E” class do not earn any American Airlines AAdvantage miles.
Alaska Airlines, another Qantas Frequent Flyer partner, also recently introduced its own version of Basic Economy. Alaska Airlines markets these as “Saver” tickets, which book into “X” fare class. These also do not earn any Qantas points.
Delta Air Lines, a partner of Virgin Australia, also sells Basic Economy tickets. Delta Basic Economy fares are eligible to earn Velocity points and status credits at “Discount Economy” rates.
Flying “coach” in the United States is already unpleasant enough without Basic Economy. But with even Alaska Airlines now launching Basic Economy, it seems it’s here to stay. Interestingly enough, airlines are measuring the success of the product by the number of people that don’t buy it. They want to make the product so unattractive that customers choose to pay more for a regular Economy ticket. So far, the strategy seems to be working for the American carriers. But let’s hope it doesn’t catch on here in Australia!
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Qantas Status Credits for ‘Basic Economy’ on American Airlines?