I Should Have Stuck With Basic Economy — Reader Mistake Story

Sep 19, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Arik, who paid extra to get a flight benefit he didn’t need. Here’s what he had to say:

I recently booked a Delta flight and paid for a Main Cabin ticket. I don’t have Delta status and decided this was a better option than Basic Economy so I could avoid sitting in the middle. However, after booking the flight I looked at the seating chart and realized the plane only has two seats on either side. All the seats are window or aisle and I don’t have a preference between the two, so in this situation Basic Economy would have been fine.

I should have just booked the cheaper fare since I would still earn miles, I just wouldn’t be eligible for an upgrade (if I had status) or be able to choose my seat. In the future I’ll be sure to check the layout to see whether there’s a middle seat. Thanks, and I hope this helps other travelers!

Basic economy fares cost less, but they come laden with restrictions on seat selection, baggage allowance, ticket changes and more. That tradeoff may be worthwhile for price-conscious passengers who pack light and don’t care where they sit; as with any fare, the key is to know precisely what you’re getting (and not getting). Arik didn’t need the trimmings of a Main Cabin fare, and the flight experience in basic economy is the same if you have no shot at getting upgraded, so in his case it would have made sense to buy the cheaper ticket. Basic economy is also more palatable if you have a co-branded airline credit card, since your card benefits may compensate for those not included in your fare.

As a general rule, I recommend checking your aircraft layout and in-flight amenities before you buy a ticket. That will help you avoid mistakes like this one, and may also help you steer clear of seats with undesirable features (like limited recline or proximity to lavatories). You can view equipment and seating options during the checkout process, and visit Seatguru for photos and specifications of individual seats. The information there is sometimes outdated, but overall still helpful. If you want the full scoop, track down a flight review for even more details about what you can expect onboard.

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. To thank Arik for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to info@thepointsguy.com, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.

Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.