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4 Reasons I Never Fly Basic Economy

A smiling airplane passenger listening to music and looking out the window.

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I’m a fan of traveling and often find myself flying to my destinations. When I buy plane tickets, I avoid purchasing airfare classified as “basic economy.” While the rates offered may be more affordable, this ticket type has several restrictions. Because of this, I aim to buy regular economy tickets instead of basic economy airfare. Here are a few reasons I steer clear of basic economy.

1. I want to avoid paying for a carry-on bag

Some airlines allow travelers who purchase a basic economy ticket to bring a personal item and a carry-on bag at no extra cost. But that’s not the case with all airlines.

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United, for example, doesn’t include a carry-on bag with its basic economy fare. Since I rarely check a bag when flying, I purchase economy airfare instead of basic economy so I can bring a carry-on bag without paying more. Why? Extra costs like bag fees add up and impact my checking account.

2. I want to choose an aisle seat

When flying, I feel most comfortable sitting in an aisle seat. I feel slightly claustrophobic when in a window seat with two strangers in the way of aisle access, and as you might imagine, I prefer not to be in a middle seat. Plus, I feel more at ease knowing I can get up to go to the bathroom without disturbing my fellow seatmates.

Most major airlines in the United States don’t allow passengers traveling on a basic economy ticket to select their own seats when booking their flights. Instead, you’ll be assigned a seat at boarding. Booking an economy ticket gives me more control over what seat I end up with when flying.

3. I value flexibility

Many airlines also restrict cancellations when buying basic economy fares. You may be unable to make changes or be charged a fee to cancel your flight. It’s important to me to have the option to change my flight if needed, so I avoid booking basic economy fares.

4. I don’t want to board the plane last

Most airlines that offer basic economy assign passengers with this ticket type to board the plane in later boarding groups. While I don’t need to board the plane early, I prefer to have room left in an overhead compartment for my carry-on bag, so I’m not forced to check it.

There’s no guarantee that the overhead bins near my seat won’t be full, but purchasing a regular economy ticket allows me to get on the plane a little sooner and increases the odds of having room for my bag.

Do this before booking basic economy tickets

For some travelers, the price of a basic economy ticket may be the best option for their budgets. A good deal is a win for your wallet! If you need to book basic economy fare, here’s what to do:

  • Review all the terms and conditions, so you know what to expect. This way, there are no costly surprises on travel day. It’s also wise to compare ticket options across multiple carriers to choose the ideal airline and ticket type for your needs.
  • You won’t likely be able to change your ticket after booking. Because of this, you may want to wait until closer to your intended departure date to book your tickets.
  • If you feel confident the trip will happen regardless of life or schedule changes, you may prefer to book earlier to secure a lower price. Free tools like Google Flights allow you to compare prices across many carriers quickly.

Keep your finances in mind

If a basic economy price is the best option for your budget, you should go for it. You should only buy a pricier ticket if it’s within your budget to do so, or you could rack up expensive credit card debt. When reviewing airfare prices, consider your personal finances to choose the best ticket for your needs.

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