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Buyer Beware - Airline Edition

April 13, 2018

Raise your hand if you have ever heard of an Economy fare on an airline? Most of you probably have your hands in the air, because many people take advantage of those fares when they fly. We know the drill - many times the fare is non-refundable, and for those flying on the so-called "legacy" airlines (so named because they were part of the pre-deregulation of the airline industry in 1978), it also means that you will be charged a fee to change your flight. OK. But you still get a seat assignment, snacks, drinks, use of the carry-on space above your seat, etc.

 

(A quick aside - I am not specifically addressing baggage on this blog post - that will come later).

 

But how many of you are aware that most of the "legacy" airlines are now offering a Basic Economy fare? It is worth knowing the difference so you don't have a nasty surprise when you get to the airport.

 

Restrictions are different, depending on the airline, but as an example, I recently quoted a client a Basic Economy fare on Delta so she would be able to see the difference in service and flight cost, and decide for herself if it was worth the cost savings:

  • No seat assignment until after check-in

  • No refunds

  • No ticket changes

  • No same-day confirmed or same-day standby travel changes

  • No paid or complimentary upgrades to Delta One™, First Class, Business Class, Delta Comfort+™ or Preferred Seats

  • No Priority Boarding for purchase

 

Some of the airlines also don't allow use of the overhead bin, force you to board last, and some might even charge you for snacks.

 

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal puts forth a theory on the rise of Basic Economy fares, that they exist to force business travelers to pay more (much like the long-ago Saturday night stay). 

 

Whatever the reason, Basic Economy fares have their place in the market. But you always want to be sure you know what you are buying!

 

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