Is it Worth Booking Basic Economy Airfares?

Business travel program

Although basic economy fares have been around for a while, some travel programs haven’t yet addressed them in their travel policies. Not doing so could adversely affect your travelers and your savings goals. So, should you allow your travelers to book these low-cost, no-frills fares?

First, let’s look at what the typical restrictions of a basic economy fare are. While the restrictions can vary from carrier to carrier, the following list contains some of the more common ones:

  • Non-refundable
  • No seat choice
  • No carry-on
  • Receive seat assignment after check-in
  • No access to overhead bins

Does your current travel policy state that your travelers must choose the lowest cost flight? If so, they could end up booking a basic economy fare, which doesn’t give them a seat assignment until after check-in. You need to ask if in the name of savings it’s worth putting those limitations on your travelers. What if they get bumped from their flight because they don’t have a seat assignment and they were on their way to visit an important client? Also, some travelers will inevitably feel like their company is being too stringent in trying to drive cost savings if they encourage booking these fares and it could affect the company’s ability to retain road warrior talent.

Another important thing to consider is these fares being non-refundable – you use it or lose it. Plus, if your travel management company employs technology such as Continuous Rate Check to rebook a ticket that drops in price and captures the savings, you forfeit that advantage with a basic economy airfare.

There may be a select few times when booking basic economy could make sense, so take all things into consideration, including your company culture. For assistance with crafting policy around basic economy fares, reach out to the Travel Leaders / Destinations Unlimited Corporate Department.