Basic Economy Fares
The three largest carriers: American, Delta and United have announced that they will be rolling out “basic economy” fares through 2017 in an effort to compete with the ultra-low cost carriers like Spirit, Allegiant and Frontier. While this may APPEAR to be an excellent value, this is another time when travelers must really do some research before hitting the PURCHASE button. What will you get? Essentially you’ll get a seat on the plane, and you’ll be allowed one personal item to put under the seat in front of you-that’s all. Sounds good? Saves you money? You’ll be comfortable? “It’s only a short flight… I pack light….It will be ok….” Let’s dig a little deeper and see what, exactly “basic economy” means. Aside from only being allowed to take a small personal item (Delta will allow a carry on to go into the overhead) you will not be able to select a seat until you check in (some carriers may permit this, for an additional fee), which means that you’ll likely be stuck in the middle; and, if you’re a family traveling together, chances are good that you will NOT be able to sit together. You will not be able to change or cancel your ticket, you will board with the last group of passengers and you will not be eligible for either paid or free upgrades as a frequent flyer. If you’re an elite-level member, you may or may not earn additional bonus miles. Elite level frequent flyers should check the rules of their specific program as some carriers may continue to extend some of your elite privileges. Next time you book an airline ticket, pay special attention to the fare you’re buying and the rules that pertain to the fare. Shop around and calculate how much your “basic economy” seat will cost. Not being able to pre-select seats, paying for carry-on baggage and being in the last boarding group may not be beneficial to you. Those who are trying to achieve or maintain elite status in your favorite frequent flyer program will probably not earn your miles or qualifying dollars spent as quickly. What seems like an awesome deal on its face, may actually end up costing more in the long run. As the saying goes, Caveat Emptor – let the buyer beware.