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
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 decided you want these extras at the time of check-in, they either may not be available 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 both the weight of both the carry-on and checked baggage together to derive the baggage fee.
Also, keep in mind that you cannot change or cancel most Basic Fare tickets.
I often select the Economy Plus options, especially if it includes free baggage and seat selection. (Particularly if I am traveling with someone else and want to make sure 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. On business-oriented flights, the premium bundles are often too expensive for me. (Often two to three times more than Economy Plus).
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 additional cost to me. The seats are not any wider (and sometimes seem narrower) than regular economy seats. However, this could be a benefit for 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.
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