Are “Basic Economy” tickets really worth it and let’s be honest, are they discriminating against families?
We were recently planning a small family vacation for four months out. Google Flights informed us that our ticket prices were going up so we got onto Google Flights to purchase our tickets because we wanted very specific tickets. We found our flights and went to check out on Delta and were shocked that we had to agree to “Basic Economy” or “Main Cabin” traveling. Somehow on our last vacation where we flew we had not had to deal with this choice.
The problem with these Basic Economy tickets on Delta is that you do not get to choose seats. In fact, you won’t get your seats until you check in. There are other cons to Basic Economy but not being able to choose seats is a big deal when we travel together as a family.
If I was flying alone or if it was all adults flying … maybe even if my kids were older, it wouldn’t be a big deal. I’d love to save some money on flight tickets. But I don’t really want my 5 year-old sitting by himself on an airplane, by who knows who, and maybe not with good access to him. For example, what if he sits in the middle of the plan next to the window but it’s a 6-seat per row plane? So I have to have him climb over 2 other people each time he gets scared to come to me? And if there’s turbulence and he’s scared? He can’t sit with me so he sits alone terrified? I could obviously go on and on about this sad seating arrangement but I won’t. The point is, I don’t want my 5 year-old possibly sitting by himself.
There is another option, however. I can check in as soon as possible (24 hours in advance, typically, online) and get to the airport, wait for the person at the desk and start begging for better seats, or at least seats closer. Or at least seats on the aisle. Or if there’s a possibility of moving anyone else who hasn’t checked in yet so my husband and I can sit by 1 of of our children but it’s all up to luck. The plane may be overfilled and is actually over packed with people checking in. The person could be grumpy and not help. The person could really just have no good options for us. It could be bad.
I did read one article about a single man who flew Basic Economy. He had a great experience. He asked for a seat upgrade and got one. He flew American which meant that he was only allowed 1 carry on that could fit under the seat but 1 of the flight attendants had him put his carry ons in the overhead compartments – the flight attendant never checked to see if he was Basic versus Main Cabin which was great for him.
So that’s the question. Do we buy the Basic Economy and hope for the best? Do we buy Basic Economy and hope that our family can sit together?
Legally, the airlines could not stop parents from sitting next to their children. Actually, I don’t think they could make it so that you would have to pay more for families to sit together. However, it seems that this is the case. If you know something I don’t, please leave a comment. I would love to hear your opinion.
Well, after realizing that flying on Delta would mean an extra $15 per person each way and American would be an extra $50 or $60, we decided to take Alaskan Airlines. They had no such silly rule where we couldn’t sit together unless we paid more plus we saved money! It was the cheapest flight! So we will be flying out in a few months, at a crazy early time, but we still saved money and the 4 of us will be sitting in pairs right next to each other (on different rows). To sit as a family of 4 round-trip would have added an additional $120 on Delta!
Delta Basic Economy:
- Seat assigned at gate or after check-in
- Seat assignment may not be together with traveling companions
- Not eligible for refunds
- No same-day confirmed or standby travel changes
- Not eligible for paid or complimentary access or upgrades to premium seats or products