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Can Coach Class Get Worse? Ask Delta

Get ready for “basic economy” on Delta. The carrier is test marketing the new option on flights linking Detroit with Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers, Orlando, and Tampa. In exchange for paying the lowest fare, you get a ticket that you cannot change or refund, and you can’t select your seat in advance. That’s an almost sure guarantee of being stuck in a middle seat and having your travel party split among different rows.

According to a spokesperson from Delta, all you give up with this fare is any sort of ticket changes as well as seat selection. You still earn frequent-flyer miles, and elite members still qualify for their level of upgrade options and other perks.

Of course, noted Delta, you can do better if you buy an additional “trip extras” package to get a few bonus amenities with your basic economy ticket. But, as usual, it’ll cost you.

Delta says its new fare will beat other airlines’ prices, but it should come as no surprise that on a test trip from Detroit to Orlando, AirTran was matching Delta’s fare to the dollar. Over the years, this has been the case: Although an airline might try to retain a price advantage with an inferior product, other airlines always match the fare levels. And, unfortunately, those other airlines usually wind up matching the inferior product, as well.

This move will generate some interesting competitive responses, which we will track. Stay tuned.

Would you pay less to fly basic economy?

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