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For travelers on a budget like me, Basic Economy airline tickets are appealing. They’re for travelers who don’t need fancy add-on’s like a carry-on luggage or extra leg room. They are the cheapest tickets available on most domestic flights through United, Delta, Alaska Airlines, and other popular airlines.
When air travel is expensive, it makes sense to save whenever you can. As appealing as a Basic Economy ticket may be, it may not be for everyone and sometimes when traveling with kids especially or even alone, you may be better of purchasing a regular economy ticket.
I personally always purchase basic economy tickets. It’s cheap and fits my travel style and budget. By doing so I have to take careful note of the restrictions below. It is important to make sure that if you decide to purchase basic economy, you know exactly what you are getting yourself into. Here are a few reasons why sometimes it’s better to spend more for a regular ticket.
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1. Basic Economy is Usually Non-Refundable
Once you book your flight, you’re stuck with it. Flight changes usually aren’t included; neither are opportunities for refunds. If you get sick or miss your flight, you sacrifice hundreds of dollars. Anything can happen after you book your flight, so it’s better to buy ticket with more travel protections. Or even better, make sure you have travel insurance.
2. Checked Bags Usually Aren’t Included
If you’re flying Basic Economy, you’re expected to travel with a personal item ONLY. There are typically no allowances for checked bags, which means you’d have to pay extra for even one suitcase. If you’re taking a long trip or going to an event where you can’t pack light, Basic Economy isn’t ideal. My favorite personal item is a backpack. The kids also love to travel with their backpacks.
3. You Can’t Pick Your Seat
If you want a window seat with a Basic Economy ticket, you’ll just have to get lucky. That’s because you usually can’t pick your seats with the cheapest ticket class. This is especially inconvenient for families, who will almost certainly be separated on their flight. If you don’t want your child to sit in between two strangers ten rows behind you, you need to purchase a ticket that allows seat selection.
While you won’t be able to pick your seat ahead of time, rest assured that if you receive a confirmation number from your airline, a seat will be reserved for you. If you need to fly Basic Economy and you’re still concerned about a seat being unavailable after your purchase, call your airline before you book your flight and ask a representative to explain their seating policy.
4. You’ll Probably Board Last
Unless you declare yourself as having a disability or you’re a military veteran, you’ll likely be the last to board your flight. This isn’t the end of the world, but the plane will be crowded by the time you board. No one likes squeezing through people and dipping into empty seats to allow others to pass you. You can avoid this hassle by choosing a higher class ticket.
5. You’re Probably Not Saving That Much
Compare the Basic Economy ticket prices for your flight to the next highest class (typically, Economy). You probably won’t see a huge difference in the price. While there are some exceptions, Basic Economy offers less incentives and protections, sometimes at a savings of less than $200. Especially after paying for your checked bags and flight protection, a basic economy ticket usually isn’t worth it.
Avoiding travel mishaps will make your vacation run much more smoothly. You and your family can avoid the hassle by purchasing an Economy ticket instead of Basic Economy. You may not save money, but you’ll have peace of mind.
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- Purchase must have travel insurance through Allianz