Is it just us, or did booking and picking the right kind of plane ticket just get way more complicated? Whatever happened to the regular economy, premium economy and business? These days, even economy tickets have many breakdowns and variations – and some of them come with so many restrictions, they’re likely not the best option, despite the cheaper price.
Here’s the breakdown of economy tickets, and the one you probably want to avoid.
Each airline will have slightly tweaked terminology for their ticket pricing. Basic, Standard, Flex, Comfort, Latitude (as Air Canada, for example, calls them)… these are just some of the phrases you’ll come across – and all of them clock in at different price ranges, offer different levels of flexibility and ability to collect loyalty points or miles.
The ticket just below Premium Economy or Business ($$$)
This ticket will give you the best flexibility when it comes to an economy seat. You’ll have options of collecting bonus points or miles usually (depending on the loyalty program), and often options of selecting preferred seating at no extra charge. You’ll also get added perks like changes for no additional fee (other than the difference in airfare), the ability to upgrade your ticket, and free cancellation. If you’re still considering flight options or your schedule may change, this type of economy ticket will give you the ease to make changes.
The mid-range economy ticket ($$)
Some airlines will have a couple of mid-range options, but in general these options can offer you some flexibility, but not a lot of wiggle room. These middle tickets (sometimes called Standard or Flex) are often the second cheapest in price, offer a percentage of loyalty points or miles (25 – 50 per cent; some Flex fares might offer !00 per cent), Standard seat selection for a fee, a possibility to upgrade to Premium Economy (but probably not to Business) and changes, both for a fee. They also usually come with a no-refund policy, but sometimes you can cancel for an additional fee.
The lowest fare ticket ($) – and the one you’ll probably want to avoid
This is really a ‘you get what you pay for’ ticket – and quite honestly, the one you want to avoid if you can. The lowest fare ticket (usually called Basic) is the most restricted, but often the most appealing because of its low cost. Chances are if you book this ticket you will get zero loyalty points or miles, no option to make any changes, cancellations or obtain refunds, and no option to select your seat until the time of check-in (and then you’ll likely have to pay). If you have any doubts at all about needing to make changes, or if you’re concerned about seat selection or loyalty programs, this is not the ticket for you. In general, this is the one type of ticket you should avoid booking, because in the long run, if you need or want to make any kind of change, you’ll end up paying much more.