¨For all the jokes and complaints about the aches of air travel, it’s pretty marvelous if you think about it¨.
Airfare Bundle: An Introduction
This blog was written before the COVID Pandemic. The COVID epidemics played havoc on the travel business. In 2022, Fifty Plus Nomad decided to focus on traveling and living in Mexico and language learning posts. We will only update these long-term travel-related posts on a time-permitting basis. We would appreciate your comments and updates on these posts.
I think airfare bundle tickets can be something that Fifty Plus Nomads should consider.
In the last couple of years, all the airlines have started to provide two to four different airfare bundles (bundles of services) for each flight. The names for each of these bundles vary from airline to airline. However, most airlines offer three airfare bundles, usually divided as follows:
- The first bundle is something like Basic Economy.
- The name of the second is something like Economy Plus.
- And a third is Premium (sometimes called Business or First Class).
While it is tempting for Fifty Plus Nomads to select basic fare airfare bundles, I usually recommend choosing a slightly higher-cost airfare bundle.
The Basic Fare is usually no-frills (small seats and minimal legroom) and includes many additional fees. Most basic domestic tickets do not include a charge for seat selection and checked baggage (called hold baggage in some countries). You will also be the last to board and may have trouble finding anywhere to put your carry-on baggage (if it is allowed at all). If you decide you want these extras at check-in, they may be unavailable or come at a high cost.
However, many other expenses can come with basic economy depending on the airline. Some additional charges include fees for:
- On-board snack/non-alcoholic drinks.
- In-seat entertainment.
- Carry-on bags (mainly if you want to carry-on something heavier and/or larger than a small backpack).
- Printing out boarding passes.
- Baggage by weight. The airlines add the carry-on and checked baggage weight together to derive the baggage fee.
Also, remember that you cannot change or cancel most Basic Fare tickets.
I often select the Economy Plus options, mainly if it includes free baggage and seat selection. (Particularly if I am traveling with someone else and want to ensure that we sit together). It usually costs about the same as paying the fees separately but comes with a few additional ¨free perks¨. (Generally, Economy Plus costs $50 to $100 more than Basic Economy). My favorite advantage is that you can sometimes cancel or change the flights for a reduced fee. (Usually, it costs $50-100, instead of $200 plus, to modify a ticket).
One of the most common benefits of the Premium airfare bundles is better seats. (Often two to three times more than Economy Plus). On business-(often two to three times more than Economy Plus) oriented flights, the premium bundles are often too expensive for me.
Sometimes, the Premium bundles are not as expensive as an economy plus ticket, particularly on leisure flights. I will pay $50-$100 for first or business class seats. I am a big man, and the additional width makes a lot of difference.
Seats with additional legroom are usually not worth the extra cost because the seats are not wider (and sometimes seem narrower) than regular economy seats. However, this could benefit many Fifty-Plus Nomads, particularly on a long flight.
A Final Note
Unfortunately, these bundles are still new and confusing to consumers. It can take a while to figure out what the fee includes. Even if you carefully read all the rules, do not be shocked if you end up paying a small, unexpected fee.
Also, understand that the bundles of services will probably change frequently over the next couple of years. Airlines will either work out the bugs or decide to abandon the idea altogether.
Want to Learn More About Airfare Bundle Tickets?
Check out this post from Tourism Teacher.