Basic Economy Survival 101

No one said flying to your destination was going to be easy — especially if you want those cheap flight tickets!

There’s nothing more tempting than cheap airfare. However, no one fully thinks about the inconvenience they’re taking on when they book basic economy flights. We totally get it — we love a great deal, too! What we don’t love, however, is a bunch of extra fees. Don’t sweat it. We got you covered with our basic economy survival guide for the next time you want to fly cheap.

  • Seat Assignments

    If you’re the type of person who loves a window seat, fuhgettaboutit! While you won’t be able to select a complimentary seat in most cases, you may be able to purchase your seat selection during booking or upon check-in time. Also, if you book basic economy for you and travel companions, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll sit together unless you pay for it. The airline has the right to split you up. Yes, there’s no guarantee you’ll sit next to your bae for the duration of your flight.

    Survival Tips: If you are split up from your travel companions, see it as a positive thing. You’ll likely spend your entire vacation together. A few hours apart on a flight won’t kill you. And it’s a good idea to have something to distract you such as a book, an audiobook, a killer playlist or a movie. If you have enough flight activities to get you through the time (especially if your seat isn’t the best) you’ll be at your destination in no time!

  • Food & Drinks

    Some airlines will offer complimentary snacks and beverages, but it’s not guaranteed. You may be required to purchase food and drinks on board. It’s best to check the airline’s basic economy guidelines. For example, the basic economy guidelines for United Airlines state that they offer complimentary soft drinks, juices, tea, and coffee as well as complimentary snacks (cookies, pretzels, etc.) for flights within North America, the Caribbean and most of Latin America. They also offer meal and alcoholic drink options that you can purchase from their menu shop on board.

    Survival Tips: Pack a snack pack and bring it with you! Something lightweight and that you can easily whip out in case you get the munchies. And if you want to save money on a water bottle, make sure to bring an empty water bottle with you to the airport and fill it up at a water fountain after you go through the TSA security line. Please note that federal law prohibits the consumption of alcohol that passengers bring on board. Flight attendants are the only ones who can directly serve you alcoholic beverages. Your best bet is to have a drink before your flight at the airport bar or purchase a drink during your flight.

  • Last To Board

    If you’ve paid the lowest fare, chances are that you’ll be the last to board. You’ll likely be group 4 or 5 (and in some cases 8 or 9!). If you’re a passenger or traveling with a passenger with mobility problems or are traveling kids, you’ll be able to board ahead of everyone regardless of your boarding group number (for your benefit, request this ahead of time).

    Survival Tips: Be patient. Sure, it can be frustrating to wait until your group number is called but there’s nothing you can do to speed up the process. Just hang out and read a book, check emails or take a pre-flight selfie.

  • Luggage Restrictions

    Carry on luggage limitations are a major caveat when it comes to basic economy flights, unfortunately. In many cases, you’re only allowed a personal item (purse, backpack, etc) that fits under the seat in front of you. You’re not allowed to use the overhead bins either. Depending on the airline, you may be able to bring on a carry-on to store overhead. For example, American Airlines will allow you to bring a carry-on that is no larger than 22 x 14 x 9 inches in addition to your personal item. Other airlines will charge you (up to $100!!) if you turn up at the gate with something bigger than a personal item! If you’re flying Spirit Airlines, only a personal item is allowed with your ticket.

    Survival Tips: You can pack really light and pack your stuff all into a personal item (because that’s always fun).You can also pay extra for luggage check-in or a carry on (depending on airline rules). Or you can use our amazing service, LugLess! We will ship your luggage directly to your destination starting at only $15! This option allows you to NOT overpay for la carte services or deal with the hassle of lugging your stuff with you to and from the airport. Let us do the work for you at a fraction of the price!

While there may be a lot you don’t get with basic economy, sometimes the price is just too good to pass up. Just go on the flight with the right mindset, know what you’re allowed to do and not do, and you’ll be good! Enjoy your flight and don’t let the little things disappoint you. Just remember, you’re getting a killer price!

Have you flown basic economy before? Do you love it or hate it? Share with us in the comments!


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