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When Basic Economy Isn’t Worth the Discount

by Angelique Platas

Jul 24, 2020

© Pavel Losevsky | Dreamstime.com

Tips / Budget

The allure of lower airfare with basic economy options can be too tempting to pass up, but sometimes you should.


To each their own, but here are a few instances when the basic-economy fare isn’t worth the trouble:


Flights Longer Than Three Hours
Three hours may even be pushing it, but for those with an affection for comfort, basic economy can be a tough squeeze for too long. The seats will have less room and with no option to choose in advance, you could be stuck in one of the least-desirable seats on the plane. While not an issue for all, those who need more legroom should steer clear of basic economy on flights longer than three hours.


Without TSA PreCheck and in a Rush
Sure, we don’t always know when flights will be delayed, run late or push up against other plans and put travelers in a time crunch, so those without TSA PreCheck or time on their side should probably skip basic economy. Typically, basic-economy travelers have to check in at the airport, print boarding passes and check luggage (even carry-ons), which adds time and hassle to the entire experience.


When Traveling With a Large Group
If you’re traveling with a group of friends, family or coworkers, basic economy might be an added stressor. Yes, the lower rates are appealing, but if you’re splitting costs later with a large group, it may not actually be worth putting yourself in the middle seat for a few hours —sandwiched between those you’re about to spend a lot of time with … think about it.


When the Discounts Aren’t That Great
Yes, every dollar counts, but if you’re saving $20–55 on a ticket price as compared to a higher-level ticket, you may just end up paying the difference checking your carry-on bag on the way home (when it’s somehow larger and heavier than when you arrived), making the discount essentially nonexistent.


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