¨For all the jokes and complaints about the aches of air travel, it’s pretty marvelous if you think about it¨. 
Ish Oxenreide

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).

Basic Economy

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. 

Economy Plus

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).

Premium

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.

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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.

Paul Heller has been a lifelong avid traveler and language learner and teacher, Even as a child, he told Santa Claus that he wanted to visit all the children worldwide. At seven years old, Paul wanted to retire to Mexico. At eight, he memorized the name, capital, location, and some facts about every country worldwide. At twelve, he found a book "Lonely Planet: Southeast Asia on a Shoestring" and started developing his own itinerary for a future round-the-world trip. He remained obsessed with travel; after getting a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California and working as an administrator, He spent his vacations going to different countries around the globe studying language, touring, and volunteering. In 1994, he quit his job and lived in Russia as a volunteer English instructor. He discovered that he loved teaching languages. In 2004, he decided to make a living out of his travels and founded a community of people who love to travel just like him. He developed 5 three-hour classes about living and traveling long-term worldwide which he taught in over 50 adult education programs throughout the US. After his parents passed, he realized his dream of traveling around the world; cruising and touring some of the most remote places like the North Atlantic, Patagonia, and Oceania; and learning new languages (he knows Spanish, Italian, French, and Russian). Paul encourages everyone to learn foreign languages. He knows that it can be frustrating and slow but that anyone can learn a language if they put in the work and, most importantly, learning a language is well worth the time and effort because it opens up a whole new set of people, ideas, and cultures. He is currently spending the next chapter of his life in Mérida, México. He is excited about using this blog and his classes and workshops to inspire and equip fellow Fifty Plus Nomads with the language, cultural, and psychological skills necessary to be successful and happy long-term travelers and expats over 50.

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