You’ll sacrifice some basic amenities, though, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before you pull the trigger.Here, we break down everything you need to know about basic economy on international flights from the US.
On some airlines, you’ll have to use the airline credit card to buy the tickets to get the perk, while on others the perk is tied to your frequent flyer number and you can pay for the ticket however you like and still get the free checked bag.
Most airlines have similar offerings when it comes to basic economy, but there are some differences so here’s a rundown of the major carries so you know exactly what to expect.
With a growing number of fare options available on international flights, it can be hard to determine what’s the best deal—and which option, ultimately, is best for you.
If you’re a frugal traveler who doesn’t need perks, basic economy might be all you need on your international flight.
Most basic economy tickets include a carry-on bag; however, some routes on United only include a personal item and no full-size carry-on you’re a Mileage Plus Premier member or companion on the same reservation.
These routes tend to be within North America (including flights to Hawaii or Alaska from other states), the Caribbean and Central America.For example, most regular economy fares include early seat selection and allow for flight changes (for a fee), but basic economy fares typically don’t follow those rules.Basic economy often doesn’t allow for upgrades or frequent flyer mile accrual, either.Sometimes the difference is minimal, or it might even be cheaper to upgrade than to pay for your bags a la carte. For most airlines, you won’t be able to select your seats until check-in, and often, they are assigned to you.You can still check a bag with a basic economy ticket; however, it will cost you, and the total depends on your destination and airline.While it’s always important to read the fine print before you book a ticket, it’s even more so with basic economy as what’s included—and not—can vary widely by airline and route.Basic economy first began as a pushback by major airlines against the eye-catching ticket prices of ultra-low-cost carriers like Spirit Airlines, Allegiant, Norwegian, Frontier and the now-defunct WOW Air.Basic economy, also called light or saver economy, is a restrictive class of fares that offers maximum savings to customers in exchange for a no-frills travel experience.You’ll sit in the same economy section of the plane as travelers who’ve purchased “main” economy seats, but you’ll miss out on a few benefits (or pay extra for them).Some only include a small personal item or have lower weight limits on your carry-on than main economy.You’ll want to compare the cost of adding the bag to the cost of upgrading to main economy before booking. Some carriers allow basic economy passengers to pre-select seats for an additional fee while others, such as Alaska’s new “saver” fare, have a limited number of seats at the back of the plane you are able to reserve ahead of time on most routes.