China Eastern Joins the Pack and Adds Basic Economy

Jul 7, 2019

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The growing trend of basic economy flights — which promise lower fares in exchange for no checked bags, no seat selection and nonrefundable tickets — has officially reached Asia. You can now book basic economy flights on China Eastern, but only available for international flights within Asia. trans-Pacific, intra-China and other long-haul options are not yet affected, though as the trend continues to grow, it’s likely we’ll be seeing them sometime soon.

Basic economy base fares are cheaper, though not by much. It’s possible that other flights will offer larger discounts for basic economy vs standard, but on this route it’s just $25 more for the opportunity to change, refund, or upgrade your ticket, in addition to a free checked bag.

Let’s take a look at the differences in amenities for the different fare classes:

This move mimics many of Asia’s ultra low-cost carriers, such as Air Asia, which offers deeply discounted tickets in an unbundled format, charging additional fees for seat selection, checked bags and even food.

As China Eastern is a full-service airline, I don’t expect them to begin charging you for a meal anytime soon, but the move to basic economy reflects current industry trend, with US carriers (Delta, United, American Airlines) leading the pack, and European carriers racing along just behind (British Airways, KLM, Air France).

I’m not a particular fan of basic economy, but if you’re really desperate to save a few dollars, this could be something you’d use. In the meantime, let’s hope other carriers are a bit slow to follow suit.

H/T: One Mile At a Time

Feature photo courtesy of Fabrizio Gandolfo/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

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