Life Imitates the Onion: Basic Economy Fares

Two years ago The Onion ran a piece about Basic Economy “Airlines Installing Uncomfortable Bumps In Seatbacks Because It Pleases Them”

They had the scoop on a new less comfortable coach product.

According to sources throughout the commercial aviation sector, the nation’s airlines will begin installing awkwardly placed bumps in every airplane seatback this week because it reportedly brings great pleasure to them.

…[United’s CEO said] “Let me make clear that these seats will be incredibly uncomfortable, and there is nothing more gratifying than making the experience of simply sitting during one’s flight an excruciating ordeal.”

This wasn’t just a story about new uncomfortable coach seats. This was a story about a new coach product that you could buy your way out of by spending a little more each way, just like Basic Economy fares,

for an additional fee, customers would be allowed to purchase seats with only a single, pointed protrusion in the lower back.

I’ve got to give The Onion credit for the best investigative reporting.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. I don’t know what airline or airplane (787?) is in the picture, but just look at the first two guys. Clearly neither one fits in their seats – and they are not overly large people. They are in for a long uncomfortable flight. Ugh.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *