Basic fares are coming to some destinations that are anything but basic. United Airlines and American Airlines are expanding their ultra-cheap economy cabins to be offered on routes to and from Hawaii, Latin America and Canada. Is this good news for travelers? Find out if having more options for rock-bottom rates in the lowest cabin tier would really give you a reason to celebrate.
United Airlines Boosts Number of Routes with Basic Economy Cabins
United Airlines is about to offer Basic Economy tickets for flights to Hawaii and Latin America. This officially means that Basic Economy fares will soon be offered on all domestic flights and some international flights. The exact locations that these new fares will be available for will be unveiled later in the year.
These tickets may be attractive to people looking for rates that can compete with the budget carriers that are so popular today. Unfortunately, the flying experience won't be much cushier than using a budget carrier if you opt to go with a United Airlines Basic Economy ticket.
The reality is that most passengers can expect to save between $15 and $20 when booking a one-way ticket in Basic Economy instead of booking a seat one tier up. This could make or break vacation plans for some travelers. The cheap fares may not be worth the inconvenience for others as passengers in United's Basic Economy cabins are only allowed one small bag. They aren't able to choose a seat in advance or be guaranteed a seat next to a travel companion.
Even being a member of United's loyalty program won't do much for you if you book a Basic Economy ticket because these seats are not eligible for upgrades. The one upgrade that United MileagePlus members can get is a larger bag to carry onboard.
American Airlines Nearly Doubles Number of Flights With Basic Economy Cabins
American Airlines customers now have a total of 69 routes to choose from when booking bare-bones seats. The big news is that four Canadian cities have been added to the roster. You can now look forward to booking cheaper tickets when traveling to and from the following Canadian cities:
- Calgary (YYC)
- Montreal (YUL)
- Toronto (YYZ)
- Vancouver (YVR)
While the addition of cheaper tickets to a new batch of cities is exciting, it's not a guarantee of a better flying experience. Booking a rock-bottom rate in American's lowest cabin tier means giving up the perk of being able to put a bag in any of your plane's overhead bins.
In addition, you'll board last and you won't be given a seat assignment until you show up. Members of the AAdvantage loyalty program face the disappointment of not being able to earn elite-qualifying miles and not being eligible for upgrades or flight changes.
Will You Be Booking Basic Economy Tickets for Hawaii, Canada and Latin America Travels?
The bare-bones economy fares offered by United Airlines and American Airlines definitely have their perks. They can work out just fine for travelers who don't mind doing without large carry-on bags or sitting next to a travel companion. In fact, the new low fares being rolled out highlight the benefits of joining an airline's loyalty program instead of simply scrambling for cheap tickets at the last minute.
It's always worth seeing if using your bonus points or credit card perks to get a better deal in a higher cabin tier is possible when booking flights with your preferred carrier. You may find that a better seat costs the same or even less than an ultra-low economy fare if you have the right combination of perks and points waiting for you in your account.