If you love the film “Catch Me If You Can” or hold fond memories from the “golden age” of flying, you almost certainly despise basic economy fares. Though airlines tout them as “customization”, allowing you to take control of your journey, they’re really just a way to force you into buying more expensive tickets while advertising prices as low or lower than their competitors.

The good news is that there’s a really easy work around basic economy restrictions, if you live in the USA. It all starts with a piece of plastic that gets your bags and priority boarding back…

a screen on a wall

Get Your Most Frequented Airline’s Credit Card (U.S.)…

The U.S. credit card market is more cutthroat than the catwalks of high fashion.

Each U.S. airline offers significant benefits to holders of their credit card, and most offer something along the lines of…

  • Zone 1 Priority Boarding
  • A free checked bag for everyone on your reservation
  • Discounts on food and beverage purchases on board.

The good news is that a credit card company or airline can’t take these benefits away from you, so you can book the cheaper basic economy fares, and still enjoy a checked bag, early boarding and any other benefits you’d be entitled to via the credit card.

rows of seats on an airplane

Because Credit Card Benefits Can’t Be Taken Away…

Basic economy fares mean paying for luggage, boarding last and being restricted with carry on luggage. Due to consumer protection in the US, all those devaluations go straight out the window, even if you buy one of these fares, since you’re still entitled to your card benefits.

This means if you look into Delta Amex Cards, Chase United Cards, Citi American Airlines Cards and so forth, you’ll likely be saving yourself some money and hassle down the line.

a window with a curved roof

And You Can Save Money By Booking Basic Economy Fares And Still Board First And Check A Free Bag…

Basic economy fares are generally reaching new lows, so if you have your most frequented airline’s credit card you can book their cheapest “basic economy” ticket without worry, knowing that all the things they’d like to take away from you cannot be taken away. The only thing you’ll potentially miss out on is full elite status qualifying miles, though that varies by airline.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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