Caveat Emptor (Basic Economy)

Steven and I are planning a trip to New York that coincidentally turned into our honeymoon. We got Springsteen on Broadway tickets before we got engaged, but now the trip is the weekend after the wedding, perfect timing–I get to marry Steven and see Bruce.

Image result for bruce springsteen
Gratuitous Bruce pic

We started hunting for hotels and airfare in earnest yesterday. We went to Expedia, which seems to have slightly different hotels than Travelocity or Orbitz (which are really the same thing). All excited, we picked a hotel in Tribeca. We went for neighborhood, not luxury so it’s the Hilton Garden Inn for us. Then we picked flights. Nothing is cheap when you’re talking about NY, but we thought we did well.

I don’t like sitting in the back of the plane. I feel airsick back there, so I immediately went to pick seats. Now, I realize that I fly cattle class and I won’t be anywhere near the front of the plane, but as I went to the Delta and United web sites, I came to the sinking realization that I had purchased tickets that did not allow me to choose a seat or even bring a full-size carry-on onto the plane.

“Steven,” I shrieked in horror. “You’re not going to believe this!!”

“Are they BASIC ECONOMY????” he shrieked back. “Cancel them NOW. I’m not going to fly basic economy!!!”

Luckily, I am obsessed with seat selection and we had 24 hours to cancel. I did so within 24 minutes. Hotel reservation intact, we went back and found flights that allowed us to pick from the minimal free choices left (two middle seats one behind the other on the way out and an aisle for Steven and a middle seat a few rows back on the return). Universe aligned again.

I noticed afterwards that Expedia does say what type of fare you are purchasing right underneath the flight listings. The airline sites I checked allow you to choose whether to list basic economy fares or not. Sometimes that choice is under advanced options, sometimes it’s elsewhere. Be careful unless you are so budget conscious that you are flying without anything but a backpack and don’t mind sitting in the last few rows of the plane. The basic economy fares from O’Hare to LaGuardia were about $50 cheaper, but then checking a bag costs $25. I get that for some people it might be worth $25 to choose basic economy. I’m not one of them and certainly not for my “honeymoon.”