Delta adds checked bag fee to lowest fares to Europe


Delta is adding a first checked bag fee for its lowest-priced seats on flights to Europe and North Africa, sold under the “basic economy” label.

The new checked baggage fee takes effect for trans-Atlantic basic economy tickets purchased starting Dec. 6 for flights April 10, 2018 or later.

The first checked bag fee for basic economy fares on trans-Atlantic flights is $60, while the second checked bag fee is $100.

Those who buy Main Cabin or Comfort+ seats will still get a first checked bag free.

The new checked bag fee comes as Delta announced an expansion of basic economy fares to more than half of its trans-Atlantic flights. The airline also said its partners Air France-KLM and Alitalia will also charge the first checked bag fee.

Delta’s chief marketing officer Tim Mapes said in a written statement that basic economy is “a great solution for price-conscious customers flying across the Atlantic who still want the high quality cabin experience Delta has to offer.”

Basic economy fares do not come with advance seat assignments or the ability to make any ticket changes, even for a fee. That means basic economy passengers board last, and families may not be seated together. The fares are also not eligible for upgrades, even for a fee.

Delta introduced basic economy in 2012 on some of its domestic flights and says the fares are “for price-conscious customers looking for great seat value who don’t mind where they sit.” The airline has since expanded to many of its international flights as well.

Bare-bones fares like basic economy have spread on airlines to compete with ultra low-cost carriers like Spirit and Frontier. Delta’s executives have emphasized their interest in “upselling” customers to main cabin fares or other fares from basic economy.

In October, Delta president Glen Hauenstein told investors on an earnings conference call that “the success of [basic economy] isn’t how many people buy it, in our mind, but how many people don’t buy it and choose another product, and that’s really where we’re focused.”

U.S. Department of Transportation officials plan to monitor complaints related to basic economy fares to see if consumers experience issues, according to a U.S. Government Accountability report.

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