The stripped-down ‘basic economy’ airfares introduced by some large US airlines to compete with their low-fare rivals have received a chilly reception from business travellers.
A survey of corporate travel programmes found that 69 per cent ban bookings into basic economy class outright, and 79 per cent configure their booking tools so that basic economy fares don’t appear as an option for unauthorized travellers, according to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and Airlines Reporting Corporation.
By contrast, 89 per cent of programmes allow employees to travel in business class in at least some scenarios, such as on lengthy international flights, and 58 per cent of companies permit bookings into premium economy seats, which offer additional leg room and other minor perks.
“It’s not surprising to see many business travel programs shying away from basic economy fares,” said Michael W. McCormick, GBTA executive director and COO.
“These fares pose a challenge for travel programmes, creating difficulty for spend visibility and comparison shopping when add-ons are factored in.
“Additionally, travel buyers are increasingly factoring in traveller preference and convenience as they recognize the importance of their role in employee retention and recruitment in a strong economy with low unemployment.”