Travel and Booking Tips
Basic economy is an airfare class that was introduced by major airlines to compete with the lower prices of ultra-low-cost carriers. These fares come with various restrictions that result in the reduced price of tickets. The fare class didn't become popular until early 2017, when American Airlines and United Airlines both introduced routes flying basic economy. International basic economy routes were then introduced in 2018.
Basic Economy Restrictions
The restrictions that most airlines place on this cheaper class include removing a checked baggage allowance, not allowing seat selection, changes, upgrades, and cancellations are not allowed, rewards miles are reduced on some airlines, and some flights do not allow overhead bin access, meaning you will can bring a personal item that will fit under the seat in front of you, but you will not be able to bring a full sized carry-on. These restrictions vary between airlines.
- American Airlines allows seat choice for an additional fee, a full sized carry-on, a checked bag for an additional fee or with elite status, and reduces the amount of miles you earn. For more information on American Airline's basic economy, click here.
- Delta Airlines does not allow seat selection, does allow a full sized carry-on, checked baggage for an additional fee, and earning of miles at a normal rate. For more information on Delta Airline's basic economy, click here.
- United Airlines allows seat choice with a fee, does not allow a full sized carry-on on some flights, checked baggage is available for an additional fee, and reduces rewards miles. For more information on United Airline's basic economy, click here.
Tips For Flying Basic Economy
One way to reduce the negative effects of flying on basic economy is through airline credit cards. Airline credit cards usually have some benefits that outweigh the cost of the card if you fly more than once a year. These benefits usually include free checked baggage, priority boarding, and a reduced cost of in-flight food and drinks. The credit cards linked with the big three airlines in the United States are the American Express Delta card, the Chase United Mileage Plus card, and the Citi AAdvantage American Airlines card.
- The American Express Gold Delta SkyMiles card is $95 annually. For every Delta flight booked on the card, it includes one free checked bag, priority boarding, and 20% statement credit on eligible in-flight purchases. For more information, click here.
- The Chase United Explorer Mileage plus card is $95 annually. For every United flight booked through the card, you receive a free bag for you and one companion booked on the same reservation, priority boarding, and 25% statement credit on in-flight food, beverages, and Wi-fi. Additionally, with this card you receive 2 United lounge passes every card anniversary and you can get up to a $100 statement credit on the purchase of either Global entry or TSA Precheck every 4 years. For more information, click here.
- The Citi AAdvantage American Airlines Platinum Select card is $99 annually. For every American Airlines flight booked using this card, you get a free checked bag for you and up to 4 travel companions on the same reservation (Domestic flights only), priority boarding, and 25% statement credit on in-flight food and beverages. For more information, click here.
While looking through flights on Google Flights, you see an amazing price to Madrid, Spain- Only $379! You click through the deal, pick the dates you want, choose the layovers that will work best for you for your departure flight, look through a few return flights and decide on one that looks good, but then you are met with a pricing page that says the $379 flight you chose is actually $794. So you change your return flight and see if that was booked or priced wrong, yet the price still shows $794. You try changing the departure flight, the flight dates, everything you can think of, but nothing is giving you the $379 flight that you expected. You check on the major airline's website, and to your disappointment, the flight shows $794.
This is what we call "Phantom Fares" or "Ghost Fares" when Google Flights shows the wrong price for a certain city, route, or airline. This is a disappointing glitch in Google's system, which is generally caused by either Google Flights using cached data that is rapidly changing which becomes incorrect once the final price is updated, Google Flight reporting the wrong information because of factors that can throw off the data it uses, such as an Online Travel Agency advertising a lower price for the sale, or the airline providing faulty information, which is usually the case when the price you expected shows up requiring you to call the airline- which generally will not honor the great deal you expected.
Often times, when we begin to run into phantom fares, we will start to see them to a variety of destinations, usually on a specific airline. If this occurs, we find it best to search either search a different region for a while and try again later or to remove the airline or airline alliance that the phantom fare is appearing from. Sadly, most phantom fares won't come to fruition, but we have seen some that with enough patience, changing the dates and flights multiple times can result in finding a bookable deal price similar to the phantom fare you were seeing.